Coming Home to Caffiends

When I got back on campus at the end of Orientation, the first thing I did was visit Caffiends, Victoria College’s student-run fair-trade café, located on the first floor of Old Vic, the college’s castle-like building. As always, stepping into the cozy room felt like going home in a way that no other place on campus quite managed to rival.

Coffee cup on a table in Caffiends

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Halfway Through..Now What?

Hello U of T!

I’m Liana and I’m writing for the Community Crew this year as the CTSI (Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation) Blogger. I’m a born and raised Torontonian, a first generation student, and in my third year double majoring in English and Book & Media Studies. You’ll come to learn throughout the year that I really love writing and reading..if that weren’t obvious from my choice of majors.

A photograph of Liana posing in front of a ferris wheel

Me on a trip to Seattle last year!

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Top 189 types of Instagram posts using the #UofT hashtag

Just kidding. I mean top ten. Can you imagine 189???

Happy birthday week to UofT! 189 is a ripe old age and our academic institution has seen lots of growth and development over the duration of its existence. Danielle’s recent posts on major historical moments at UofT give a great outline of what we’ve been through to arrive at this point. The present-day lifestyle of a UofT student is rather different than what it used to be, on account of there being significantly more glass buildings, less trees, a lot more online presence, and a lot more hashtags.

UofT logo with birthday hat edit.

In celebration of our university’s 189th birthday, I took the liberty of perusing through the ever-so-reliable information forum popular amongst us millennials (Instagram) to bring you the top ten types of Insta posts that use the #UofT hashtag, to see whether this is indicative of a current student’s UofT experience. One takeaway from this week’s blog: UofT students are AMAZING photographers. 

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Braving Times Square: The Introvert Gets Involved

A whorl of chaotic colours, blacks and indigos, fluorescent yellows and oranges, pulsating at the edges of your eyes. A cacophony of shouts and honks drowning out the sound of your own breathing. The smell of greasy hotdogs, sunscreen, and cologne suffocating you. Arms and elbows and hands tangled with others as people nudge past you to get to one of the many fast food restaurants, shops, or stores stretching along either side.

Times Square, a force with which to be reckoned in all its sights, scents, sounds, and touch. While some people can handle the hustle and bustle of this chaotic mass, others are overwhelmed by the amount of people, scents, and sounds crushing them and have to leave the vicinity from time to time to catch their breath.

Similarly, after socializing with other people for a period of time, introverts need some “alone time” to recharge because they get drained from the activity. Some get drained after a couple of hours, others after several hours.

But, what is an introvert?

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Sports and Recreation at UofT: A Second Look

Like most U of T students, I’m proud to be one. People like to call us pretentious and I like to argue there’s a big difference between being pretentious and being justifiably proud. We boast top 20 spots on lists of the world’s best universities and I’m “sorry I’m not sorry” that gives me the warm fuzzies.

While we excel as an institution overall, according to (contributor to the Huffington Post), our sports and recreation programs are less well known.

Clearly something’s wrong here. We have a wealth of sport and recreational facilities, services, activities — there’s a lot going on here! We have FOUR athletic centres (if you count Varsity Centre), FOURTY-FOUR men’s and women’s varsity teams, the ONLY Olympic-sized pool in the city, a wide variety of registered and free classes, drop-in recreation, a FANTASTIC, SUPER-AFFORDABLE sports clinic open to students, more playing fields than I’m aware of and SO, SO MUCH MORE.

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My #TryItUofT Experience

Last week I wrote about some personal strides I’ve been hoping to make academically. Another thing I want to do this semester, though, is to become more involved in the U of T community. Seeing as how it is still #TryItUofT month, I thought now would be a perfect time to change things up.

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Clubs to Get You Moving in 2016

Welcome back! I hope everyone’s well on their way to settling into a new semester. I can’t say I started it particularly enthusiastically; however, I feel I’m very much back in the groove. I start a circus silks class at the Athletic Centre soon (can’t wait to report back!) and Jiu Jitsu officially resumed today. I’ve dedicated this term to myself and my well-being above all else. I’ll let you know how that goes. So far… pretty good.

Tuesday was the annual winter Clubs and Summer Job Fair hosted by the UTSU at the Varsity Centre. I’ve never missed it — and for good reason. The fair isn’t a particularly popular event, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to chat with people (club executives and employers). It’s a very different environment compared to the fall Clubs Day at Hart House Circle. Even if you’ve never been, you must know what I mean…

How it looks... Source: UTSU Facebook Page

How it looks…
Source: UTSU Facebook Page

How it feels... (Also: name that movie!) Source:

How it feels…
(Also: name that movie!)

I seized the opportunity presented by the lack of stampede to interview a couple of sports/athletics-related clubs that were represented at the fair today. Without further ado…

The University of Toronto Ski & Snowboard Club (UTSSC)


UTSSC offers affordable ski and snowboard trips for students. The club welcomes skiers and boarders of all skill levels. Never tried your hand at either of these winter sports? No problem! Absolute beginners are 100 per cent welcome, and the club offers free lessons over the course of their first two weeks.

One club executive I spoke to explained that a large part of their membership consists of international students hitting the slopes for the first time (no doubt to find something to redeem this dreadfully cold, harsh season that is Canada’s winter). The club executive describes the club as a place where anyone who wants to ski and snowboard can come together, meet and make friends — within a totally non-competitive, recreational environment.

UTSSC runs weekly trips to local hill Mount St. Louis Moonstone. They also host a Quebec trip over reading week — this year to Mont Sainte Anne, which I’ve enjoyed more than once! Anyone interested in joining UTSSC should check out their Facebook group (if it motivates you: I found a rather unflattering photo myself conducting this very interview, yikes!) and/or their website for additional information and sign-up options.  I HIGHLY recommend seizing such an opportunity to anyone who hates winter (wait, isn’t that everyone?). I find solace in the fact that while it may be freezing… I CAN FINALLY GO SKIING AT LAST!

University of Toronto Dance Club


The main function of the University of Toronto Dance Club is to offer dance classes to U of T students and alumni. The club offers classes in a variety of styles, though the executive member I spoke to explained he personally got involved because he wanted to dance Salsa. Good choice, amigo. Latin dance makes me weak in the knees, it’s so, so impressive and, in my experience, a lot of fun. The club is a great place for anyone who wants to dance, try something new and meet some new people! My informant tells me lots of people find many friends within the community and greatly expand their social circles. The best part? Students pay only $40 for 10 hours of classes! Does this sound as awesome to you as it does to me?  Check out or join their Facebook group to start (or continue!) your dance education.

University of Toronto Jiu Jitsu Club


Confession: I’m President. Consolation confession: I did NOT interview myself.

The University of Toronto Jiu Jitsu Club is a Japanese Jiu Jitsu club (many, many styles of Jiu Jitsu exist, even within “Japanese”), which trains at Hart House. It is a registered club at U of T, but it’s also part of the Jitsu Canada and the Jitsu Foundation, which are national and international organizations respectively (friends all over the world — can’t beat that!). Someone who wants to get involved would either visit or the Facebook group and get in touch with one of the fantastic instructors. Why someone might want to try it? According to Arlo it’s good fitness, good self-defense and what’s most important for him is “it’s a lot of fun!” I swear, he said it. Direct quote, not a shameless plug.

Naturally, I’ll insert my two cents ever so subtly…

IT’S AWESOME. No, but seriously… for those who might want a little more info on what exactly Japanese Jiu Jitsu entails:

Japanese Jiu Jitsu dates back to the samurai. It’s a system of unarmed combat the samurai developed for use if ever they lost possession of their sword (this is my favourite thing to say). Our style involves striking, locking, throwing, groundwork and weapons defense. It’s very self-defense oriented and it’s rather comprehensive!

While I think they’re fabulous, these are just three of many athletic clubs on campus, so don’t be discouraged if they aren’t quite what you’re looking for. That’s okay! Check here for a full list of our campus clubs, which will allow you to browse by category and find your perfect fit!

A Doll’s Eye: To 2016 and Beyond

I pray I’ll be able to colour a doll’s eye by the end of the year—specifically, the eye of a Daruma doll. Last summer, when I went to Japan, I saw these dolls sitting on window sills everywhere, and when I asked my relative what they were, she called them Daruma dolls and explained that people used them as good luck talismans and goal motivators. You’d make a goal, colour one of the doll’s eyes in, complete your goal, then colour the other eye in.

A small Daruma doll on a table.

One of the smaller Daruma dolls!

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Getting Paper: A UTFOLD Origami Experience

A large origami structure of Hello Kitty, with more colourful folded pieces in the shelves in the background. The Hello Kitty structure is made up of many many smaller folded pieces of paper stuck together to create the larger model.

An origami modular of Hello Kitty made by last year’s UTFOLD team. Look how cute it is!! (please also note the Totoro model in the back). Photo source:

As mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I’ve been meaning to check out UTFOLD for some time. I thought that it’d be cool to advance my paper-folding skills beyond paper airplanes (is that even considered origami???).
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Keep Doing What You’re Doing U of T!

This year I’ve written about a lot of different events and initiatives on campus. I got to help host these with different groups on campus, such as the Healthy U Crew, the University of Toronto International Health Program and Juxtaposition Global Health Magazine. And even better, I got to share them with all of you amazing readers through the Community Crew!

What do all of these groups have in common though? They’re all under the Office of Student Life here at U of T! The Peer Teams and student groups on campus focus on community engagement, student involvement and building a healthier, happier campus.To appreciate the efforts of all these groups, The Office of Student Life held its first ever Recognition Event! Picture of projection at event reading "U of T recognizes"

Fellow blogger Peter and I had the pleasure of emceeing the event, so you can be sure that we sufficiently entertained the crowd with plenty of clever banter. It’s an insanely busy week for everyone, but I’m glad I decided to go to this event because it was actually a form of stress relief. We got to mingle with other leaders and all the amazing Student Life staff that make it possible for teams like ours to do the work we do.

Picture of community crew members who were present. From left to right: Api, Michael, Sarah, Peter

Community Crew candid!

It was held in the Great Hall at Hart House, and everyone was dressed in their best business casual attire. There were lots of hors d’oeuvres, and even a pianist to really set a nice ambiance.

Picture of Great Hall

~Fancy Ambiance

Once the speeches and awards were done, there was lots of opportunity for impromptu photoshoots! The already picturesque Great hall had a U of T backdrop set up, so naturally, we took a lot of pictures!

Photo of api and Ondiek standing back to back against the U of T backdrop

This was our “90s Sitcom Opening” pose

It was definitely a great feeling to be recognized for the work we do on campus, because it makes the effort we put in even more worthwhile. But what I really loved was seeing the diversity of all initiatives undertaken by students, and seeing all the impact it’s had on the campus and on the community. So whether you’re promoting healthy habits, completing the Blueprint Program or breaking the world record for most origami largest display of origami flowers (while raising money for cancer), remember that you’re involvement matters and is recognized! So as MC Peter and I said at the event: KEEP DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING!