The start of the ’gap’ between midterms and finals is definitely a good time to find more opportunities to de-stress where possible. As I’ve been emphasizing the importance I’ve placed on striking a balance between work and play, I’ve decided to find out where my fellow first-years have been going to relax on campus. Specifically, I’ve been looking for places to ‘unplug’ and unwind without keeping a constant eye on my phone.
Halloween is over, so we’re officially allowed to countdown to Christmas right?
I LOVE holidays, especially Christmas. I can’t wait to see the city all dressed up and to go gift shopping and skating in Nathan Phillips square.
This past month has undoubtedly been one of the more strenuous months of my life thus far, and that probably goes for a lot of my fellow freshmen. Midterms hit me hard and have left me feeling absolutely exhausted. Even though mental wellness month just ended, I still think it’s important to make sure sure that I head into the second half of this fall semester with a healthy mindset.
Anyone who knows even a little bit about me probably knows that I do Jiu Jitsu. I started practising Shorinji Kan Japanese Jiu Jitsu in September of 2013, when I began my undergraduate degree. I joined the Jiu Jitsu Club at UofT and I’ve now been the president of for about two years.
That decision was the best I’ve made over the course of my undergraduate career. Let me tell you why.
Last week, I ventured into Hart House to snap a few pics of Madelin. While there she mentioned that Hart House is one of her favourite places on campus, and how not enough students take advantage of everything it has to offer. I’m definitely one of those students. When I think of Hart House, two things come to mind: weddings and working out. Though Madelin and I weren’t there for long, it was definite that there was much there than I thought, and on one rainy afternoon this week I decided to explore the Hogwarts-esque halls of Hart House.
Before I even got the chance to go inside I made my first discovery: an adorable little vegetable garden. Upon further investigation I found that the veggies were planted and cared for by U of T Dig In, a group dedicated to small scale sustainable food production. Want to learn more? See Danielle’s post about U of T Dig In.
I decided to grab a coffee to help me warm up after being out in the rain, so I went into Sammy’s Student Cafe. The cafe has lots of vegetarian options, and serve healthy $5 lunches on Wednesdays. That’s a definite upgrade from my usual Tim Horton’s bagel.
getting lost wandering the lower halls for a while, I went upstairs and happened upon the Reading Room. They really need to rename this place to the “talking room” or “fun room”. It’s bright walls and cozy couches make it the perfect place to hang out and socialize.
And to add to the Reading Room’s fun eclectic nature, Get Crafty, a weekly free arts & crafts program is hosted here! (Read all about Get Crafty in Emaan’s blog post)
Just down the hall I found the Map Room. Named for the beautiful illustrated map of U of T that it’s home to, the ivy covered Map Room seemed like the perfect place to snuggle up with a good book. It also shares space with CIUT, the campus radio station, and hosts an array of intimate concerts.
Something I absolutely adored about Hart House was the abundance of art hung in the hallways. Sadly I didn’t get the chance to visit the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, but finding the little pieces sprinkled throughout the halls almost made up for it.
When I walked into the library I went from being 50% sure my dreams had finally come true and that I had been teleported to Hogwarts to 90% sure. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the walls covered in books, the giant window benches, and the ivy creeping in everywhere. The library has definitely become my go to study spot.
I finished off my afternoon exploring Hart House by venturing out into the rain and into the Quad. This gorgeous manicured courtyard has a tented area perfect for enjoying a coffee outside on a rainy day.
What’s your favourite part of Hart House? Let me know in the comments below.
Hello Internet! My name is Emma and I am a new member of the Community Crew this year, writing for CTSI (Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation). I am going into my fourth year (eek!) double majoring in Ethics, Society, and Law and Literature and Critical Theory, minoring in Philosophy, and flirting with various French courses on the side. I like dogs, Oxford commas, and wearing hats.
It’s nice to meet you all! At least, cyber-meet you. I guess I haven’t really met you at all yet, have I? At this point, I’m pushing buttons on a little silver box and hoping that someone might receive and decode the message on the other end. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. I mean, who are “you” anyway?
We seem to have a Schrödinger’s reader dilemma on our hands, assuming there is a “we” at all…
That got really uncomfortable really quickly, didn’t it? Bear with me; the point is that introductions are AWKWARD. Having established this, it’s time to take it up a level. This time, we’re tackling the ultimate awkward introduction. Never fear! Now that we’re so well acquainted, you can count on me to hold your hand throughout.
Brace yourself, for you are now on your way to… OFFICE HOURS! (Duh duh duhhhhh!)
(The following pep talk is most effective accompanied by Survivor’s 1982 pump-up anthem, “Eye of the Tiger”)
This is it. Today is the day that you forge a relationship with your academic superior. You want to learn from her, make a new connection on LinkedIn, and give yourself a better shot at that coveted A. You only have a two-hour window so you had better get going!
You dress for success and grab your things; don’t forget to pack any course readings, syllabi, or other course materials you might like to discuss. You’re feeling confident as you head outside. With each step, though, the doubts start creeping in.
You consider taking cover under that rock you just passed. I know what you’re thinking: What if I freeze up? What if I can’t think of anything intelligent to say? What if I waste the professor’s time?
Don’t worry! You trained for this. You did your readings, you went to lecture, maybe you even researched your professor’s areas of study or read some of her work. You have questions to ask and you have insights to share.
Even if you say something that isn’t quite on the mark, don’t sweat it; mistakes only facilitate intellectual dialogue. Your professor isn’t some fairy-tale troll who pushes people off the bridge when they get the wrong answer.
Professors are people, just like us; I know this because I saw one at the grocery store one time. We have to remember that they were undergrads once, too. They don’t encourage you to come to office hours because it’s some kind of trap. They want you to come because they want to help you. It’s all part of this grand academic tradition that we all belong to as members of the UofT community.
Besides, it would be super boring and disheartening to sit alone in an office for two hours, waiting on people who might not show up. Just look at this heartbreaking PSA video about empty office hours from CTSI.
I know that squirrel just gave you a menacing look (shudder) but shake it off and keep moving. Your professor, an expert in things that you signed up to study, is waiting. You have the opportunity to engage with her and pick her brains! Who knows? If you go introduce yourself, you might even get a chin wave on your way into the lecture hall next week. It all seems too good to pass up!
You’re so close now. Take a deep breath, climb those steps, march up to that door, and start with “Hi my name is…” Trust me, you’ll be glad you did. Afterwards, reward yourself with a cupcake or some other treat because by golly you earned it!
I hope you find this pep talk helpful. If I see someone walking purposefully across campus with “Eye of the Tiger” rattling out of their headphones, I’ll know that someone read it and put it to use. To that someone I say, nice to meet you! Maybe introductions aren’t that awkward after all, huh?
We made it! April has finally arrived! I just survived three essays and four exams all in the last two weeks and I don’t even want to know what percentage of my final grade all those tests and assignments were worth.
“Good thing I just had three final exams in the last three days, now my final exams can actually begin.” Unfortunately, this is not an April Fools joke.
Seeing as how April has arrived, this will be the last First Nations House blog for the 2014-2015 school year! Can you believe it? This has been the fastest, craziest, most exciting and ridiculous year of my life and I’m honored to have been able to share my experiences with you.
Last week, I attended a Ulead workshop which focused on legacy and transition in leadership. I had a great time and I really enjoyed all the people who attended and who facilitated the workshop. The topic of legacy was very intriguing and makes me think of what legacy I hope to leave with the First Nations House blog this year.
First, I’ll take some time to reflect on where I was when I started last September, and where I am now. Or rather, who I am now.
In September 2014, I had never written a blog before. I was also still new to the WordPress program. In September, I had never been to 98% of the events I went to this year either. I had only barely started learning Cree, and had never spoken or written a word in Anishnaabemowin. I had never been a co-chair in an Indigenous student association before either.
In September 2014, I had never given an on-air interview at a radio station before, and I had never had an Indian Taco from the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. I never made a snow-Zach on campus before, and I had never shared my secret rye biscuit recipe.
I had never mentored a Toronto Catholic high school class from an Indigenous perspective, and I had never really publicly talked or written about much of my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual journey. I had never made so many friends and spent so much time in one place like First Nations House. I had never felt so comfortable with who I am and I had never felt like I had a home away from home on this campus.
I also had never told the story of my cactus, Jose!
Now, because of First Nations House, the people I met there and the balance I have found within, all of this has changed. I can honestly say I am a better student and a better man because of First Nations House and this blog. For that I am grateful.
The primary message I wished to send this year is the importance of balance in university life. Take care of your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual self and I guarantee you will find a pathway through U of T into your life beyond.
I have also learned from my time in First Nations House this year what community and leadership truly means. Community means inclusivity. People from all backgrounds and walks of life have important experiences and talents to share, and should always be welcomed into the circle.
Leadership means respecting that circle and everyone in it. Leadership means taking all perspectives into account, and recognizing the effects of the group’s actions on others. Leadership means responsibility, accountability, transparency, and building balanced relationships which are mutually beneficial to all those who are involved.
Leaders cannot be followers and have the right and responsibility to protect their circle even from imbalances within the circle. When the circle is broken, true leaders stand up to defend the circle and the pursuit of balance. Sometimes, standing up for the sake of a balanced circle means leaving a broken circle behind and moving forward towards a better future.
Leadership means always striving to find and protect the circle though finding that circle can be a long journey. But once you find your circle and community, I can honestly say the long journey is worth every moment and every single step.
Finally, I can talk about legacy. It is my greatest hope that my blogging this year leaves a legacy which empowers you to engage with U of T and First Nations House and to balance your university life and a legacy which shines a light when there is only darkness on the path ahead. Be brave and be yourself. There is always hope and there is always a path worth exploring.
I’m not very good at goodbyes, I’ll admit. Writing this last sentence may or may not have made me a bit teary-eyed!
So for now I’ll just say niawen:gowa, mii-kwec, спасибо, and thanks!
This past Monday, I was in our Juxtaposition Global Health Magazine office at the Clubhouse (also known as 21 Sussex) for our weekly office hours. I was swamped with work, but the prospect of free pizza was enough to convince me to attend a Clubhouse meeting for all the student leaders of groups who have offices in 21 Sussex. Although I’m an active member of Juxtaposition, I had never attended one of these meetings and I didn’t know what to expect, but I got a renewed perspective on 21 Sussex, which I wanted to share with you all!
Community Engagement using the Clubhouse
When I first became acquainted with the Juxtaposition office, it just seemed like a nice area to chill out, and a place to store our group’s assets (as a print publication, we have A LOT of magazines in our office). As I started spending more time there, it became a second home.
After the meeting I realized it’s more than just OUR sanctuary. The clubhouse is available to the U of T community for a reason! The October open house was just one of the many ways that 21 Sussex promote community involvement and engagement.
You know how professors sometimes joke about being lonely during their office hours, since very little students actually come out? It’s a similar situation with our club’s office. The office hours are a great way to learn more about the club, what they do and how their membership works! I didn’t even know that the clubs held office hours, until I actually had to host them.
The roughly 700 clubs here at U of T can be difficult to navigate and learn about. Thankfully, ULife and UTSU have club directories, and there are countless ways to connect via social media. But, the 50 or so clubs at 21 Sussex got the privilege of office space. So maybe you want to see what Juxtaposition has in the works for the rest of the year. Or you want to find out how to go about writing for the Varsity. Or maybe you want to grab free condoms from the Sexual, Gender and Diversity office. Whatever it may be, stop by and say hi! At the absolute least, you’ll make a new friend J.
(Did I mention our office has coffee and snacks?)
So #TryItUofT, and let me know how it goes down in the comments or on Twitter at Api_UofT!
Hello friends! Reading Week has come to an end, but I hope everyone had a productive and/or fun week to catch up and/or relax!
As much as I would like to talk about my own Reading Week for this post, there are only so many words I can use to describe “Slept for 8+ hours a day, not including naps.” For some fun Reading Week shenanigans definitely check out what Amie, Rachael and Ondiek have been up to.
The first day of Reading Week was a holiday that many people have very strong opinions about: VALENTINE’S DAY!
Unfortunately my Valentine’s Day plans weren’t as great as I’d hoped, so for this week’s post, I am going to switch it up and share my feelings through an open letter to my (former) Valentine:
To be honest, I’ve never been into extravagant plans on Valentine ’s Day, but I’ve never been one to think of this holiday as a corporate, over-commercialized, capitalist holiday either. What I do like is the idea behind it. Celebrating love.
We both know that Valentine’s Day is not just about loving significant others but also about loving everyone in our lives. But, I feel like I don’t have the time to love. Because of you Netflix, I feel smothered. I feel like you’re taking over my life. I want to love other things. I want to love my studies, my student groups, and my job. I want my life back. I want to explore my own interests, not just what YOU recommend.
I think it’s time for us to see other people. It’s not you, it’s me.
I’m not going to go too much into my terrible relationship with Netflix. It had its flaws, but in hindsight, the relationship had a lot of great parts too. We had a good run, but it’s time to find new things to fall in love with. In my first year it was a program. Sometimes it was a job. This year, it was a conference. There’s still so much more to explore. The journey ends here for Netflix, because it was holding me back from doing what I truly wanted (like being productive), but it’s just the beginning of a whole new journey!
It’s all about finding the things that you love. Isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about? So I know I’m going to listen to Drake’s advice. Try to get out there and FIND YOUR LOVE.
Let me know what you’re finding down in the comments or on Twitter at @Api_UofT!
This is the first Reading Week I’ve spent in Toronto. In both my first two years I flew home to see my parents and my Alberta friends. Last year, Reading Week actually turned out to be more stressful than helpful. I’m making sure this year goes much better!
Many of my friends headed home for at least part of this break though. They are lucky ducks! If you live close to Toronto, the travelling might be easier and more restful especially at the height of the winter. I’ve heard some testimony from just outside the city about big snow and even bigger highway jams. I wouldn’t like to be on the road for too long in weather like this!
There’s so many ways to spend a week off. Plenty of events take place right after reading week too so we can keep ourselves entertained. On Valentine’s Day, for instance, I volunteered at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto’s craft sale. What a blast! It was great fun with lots of good crafts, good food, and good conversation.
I was also lucky enough to get invited to a birthday party at Nathan Phillips Square. We skated for a couple of hours out in the cold and had hot chocolate (with nutmeg and cinnamon I think) to keep us warm. Skating on good outdoor ice is always a great idea and I highly recommend it. I’ve only skated once per year at U of T so I suggest going more often!
I have a very interesting assignment due in March for one of my Aboriginal Studies courses. I have to write an essay about an Indigenous event in Toronto and I need to focus on the spiritual aspects of the experience. What a cool class eh? What other department would be nice enough to give us marks for connecting with Toronto’s Indigenous community?
I’m really excited for this project. There are plenty of events coming up that would be perfect for the essay. Next week, First Nations House is hosting a teaching by Elder Andrew Wesley on February 26th about traditional Omushkego Cree Walking Out Ceremonies. It’s a special topic focused on children’s first steps! I can’t wait to check it out. Listening to Andrew is always incredibly enlightening.
Anishnawbe Health is also having a youth Sweat Lodge on February 25th and you can request an invitation to their Sweat Lodge at any time. If you’ve never gone to a Sweat Lodge before, don’t be afraid to check one out!
Early March also has plenty of events coming up. The Aboriginal Students’ Association at York University is hosting their 13th Annual All Nations Pow Wow, which also will include movie screenings and a big gala! It’ll be awesome. I haven’t been to a pow wow in a long time so this event is really enticing despite it’s distance from downtown.
What event should I go to? Should I just go to them all so I don’t have to decide?