Reading week is a great time to take a breather after a flurry of midterms in the weeks prior. I’ve heard from friends who joined one of the multiple organized trips to Montréal, and even those who flew back home for the week. For the laz — er, I mean, studious members of the community, staying around may have been the more appealing choice. At the end of the day, for whatever reasons may have come about, we’re still in downtown Toronto, so we might as well make the most of it…right?
Wow, this semester has flown by! I turned around twice and *poof*, February is almost over. University years are the fastest and wildest, after all.
What university students do is not easy. We have all taken some blows to make it through. That being said, I know from my experience that there is a tremendous amount of hope on this campus.
I always say it starts with your own balance. Work hard on your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self and you’ll find your university work will flourish, as well as your personal and extra-curricular life.
I’m in my third year, so I’m already starting to look at my next steps. This search reminds me of the big journey towards university which began in my late high school years. Those were crazy times! The decisions high-schoolers have to make are so big, and yet they are so young.
Choose the programs which best fulfill your passions! I could not work as hard as I do to fight for every single mark if I did not have an infallible connection to my interest areas. What I do is a part of me, and what you do should be a part of you too!
U of T also has a Transitional Year Program for university applicants who don’t have the full high school requirements and an Academic Bridging Program for applicants over 20 years of age. Miizwe Biik also offers a high school-level diploma program to help applicants get their GED!
The next key piece of the puzzle is the community you connect with. Always remember, you are not alone. First Nations House is a great place to start and from there I guarantee you will make many new friends, get academic support and connect with other Indigenous organizations on campus (ABS, IEN, SAGE, NSA, ALSA, UTSCISA to name a few) and beyond! There’s also a ton of excellent events put on by these groups year-round, so keep your eyes open!
FNH is even sending 2 Indigenous students for an exchange program atthe International Institute for Sustainable Studies in Belize this year!
I must also share a little secret which has helped me greatly. Here’s my special healthy, quick, and cheap recipe for rye biscuits whenever a tasty boost is needed!
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup rye flour
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp half-and-half cream
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
- Grease a regular casserole or baking sheet
- In large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together
- Cut butter into dry mix and use whisk to mash and mix butter until it resembles coarse crumbs
- In separate bowl, mix egg and cream
- Pour egg mixture into dry mixture and mix with fork just until all dry ingredients are moistened
- Split the batter into 4 equal blobs, place in casserole or on baking sheet
- Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown
I often find that I have the need to be on the grid to be able to keep up with the fast paced student lifestyle. Getting a smartphone was a complete game-changer because it allowed me to be productive while on the go. Over the last few years, I’ve grown attached to a few applications, which make my life as a student SO. MUCH. EASIER.
Some of these do use Internet, so they might not be as accessible for an authentic “on-the-go” experience. But they’ve still been really useful to have because I can complete some of the tasks I need to do, without actually having to physically be at a computer!
So without further ado, here are some of my favourite student-friendly smartphone apps:
For commuters who take buses or streetcars on the TTC, this app is a godsend. It has a real time map of where all the buses or streetcars on any given route are located. This app specifically is for iOS devices, but there are dozen of other TTC apps with similar functions that are available for both Android and iOS.
I love this app for those days when I forget to print out my lecture slides and I’m too lazy to bring my computer to school. If you go to your phone browser and open .pdf files with the app, then you can highlight, add text, underline, draw and even add notes to the file!
I only recently found out about the Google Drive app but it’s been so helpful, especially for some of the student groups I’ve been involved in! It’s great to be able to pull up files while on the go, and if you download the corresponding Google Docs/Sheets apps, then you can even edit files!
4) Any Calendar App
My calendar app of choice is the default one that’s on my phone and it is my number one organizational tool. My entire schedule is at my fingertips so I’m constantly aware of deadlines. I once thought it was a Wednesday (it was Thursday) and I didn’t finish my Thursday blog post, so yeah, calendars are my best friend.
You had to have known this was coming. I love food, and having Urbanspoon lets me look for different varieties of food at different price ranges in whatever area of the city I happen to be in. GOD BLESS.
Maybe one day, humanity is doomed because technology will turn on us and the robot uprising will wipe us out completely. But until that day, I will still trust my smartphone to be a fairly reliable companion in my life. So remember all: be app-y.
After seeing my first post in writing, I felt I needed to get out more – out of my own head, out of my own room, and into the wider U of T community. It was no good to claim difficulties in meeting others and getting “out there” if I could instead develop solutions.
Having returned this year to U of T after a two-year absence, I observed that the biggest adjustment was eating by myself. I had the good fortune of two years of family dinners, so this was the most obvious difficulty. Now back at school, it has again become much easier to take food out in a takeout container – I thought I’d feel more isolated and look silly by being alone in a room full of people eating as groups, and I could catch up on CBC Radio or This American Life podcasts in my room. Practically speaking, takeout containers slung over one’s arm in a shopping bag are just easier to manage than a cafeteria tray. But the alone meal time made me feel worse; I knew something had to change.
Please don’t misunderstand me, U of T, I do have friends. But a couple of years away means that those closest to me in residence with me are long gone – having moved off-campus, graduated, or having left the city altogether .
So a solution to my loneliness problem became obvious: I couldn’t eat alone in my room anymore. This became a week-long experiment, the results of which I present to you now.
The first thing, in any experiment, is to lay out the hypothesis for that experiment. For me, it went something like: “I will feel more connected to my residence and to U of T in general if I eat in the cafeteria every day for a week.”
Then, all variables but one must be fixed, so that the researcher (me, in this case) knows how the changes in one variable alone affect the hypothesis without being affected by other variables. For me, the variables in question were as follows:
- My residence building and room remained unchanged (I wasn’t going to live differently.)
- The food would be the same (I wasn’t going to change how I ate.)
- The staff would also be the same (this was obviously beyond my control, anyway.)
- The environment in which I consumed it would be different (in our Hogwarts-esque dining hall rather than in my room.)
- I didn’t necessarily have to eat with others if I couldn’t find them, but I did have to eat in the cafeteria for every meal.
- If given a takeout container (by awesome staff who remember my usual preferences) I had to eat in my residence common area.
- I could not have my phone with me when eating (what’s the point of eating in public if my mind was elsewhere? I’m also really afraid of damaging my phone with food.)
- I had to use a tray when ordering and carrying food.
The experiment itself was uneventful – I got food “for here” on a tray, and was often helped (very kindly) to a free seat by cafeteria staff. What surprised me was the almost instantaneous effects.
I felt more at home than I have all term, possibly my entire university experience. Something about eating on a real plate at a table with silverware, and not out of a cardboard container on my bed with plastic cutlery made me feel more welcome. I was never able to meet up with others to eat (I kept missing my new neighbours), but this didn’t bother me. I wasn’t joined by others, but I didn’t feel so alone. Perhaps because I chose this experiment: I wasn’t left alone by my peers, I was among them and alone voluntarily. Of course, I would have preferred company sometimes, but perhaps the thought that I was making more effort to be with my peers was comfort enough for now. Self-isolation due to fears of regressing back to a lonelier, more anxious incarnation of myself, and worries of looking weird eating alone kept me away, but a willingness to show up and be visible gave me confidence I could never have imagined.
Another interesting effect was how I ate. I didn’t wolf down food as though it were a necessary but inconvenient interruption in my day – I slowed down and took the time to enjoy my meals. I let my mind go blank. I confess that this often meant that I eavesdropped on my fellow diners. I have no shame in this: I figure if others people-watch, I’m entitled to entertainment of my own. 😉
There was only one uncomfortable moment when I sat down directly across from a group of friends. I felt I was too physically close not to be intruding on their lunch.
Overall, this experiment was a greater success than I could have ever imagined. I took it on doubtfully, but now am a full supporter of public, voluntarily solo eating.
The next logical step is to make more efforts to find people to eat with and reconnect with existing friends in Toronto. But I’m headed in the right direction towards socialization, however slowly I’m getting there.
Food can be the best part of the day. I’m easily distracted by good eats. If you’re like me an ugly pile of tasty stuff can brighten up life instantly. But fancy meals are also fun, especially with friends.
First Nations House holds all kinds of fun feasts in addition to hosting lunches every Friday in the kitchen. The first major one is the Fall Feast on October 10th. Friends, food and fun all in one? I think that kitchen and I are going to get along very well indeed…
I’ve lost a lot of weight since the summer of 2012, and I now know eating well is vital. It starts with treating food like fuel. What goes into your body can give you power, but can also gunk things up. You wouldn’t use diesel in a gasoline engine right? If it ain’t good for my system, I ain’t interested.
Also, how much is on your plate is just as important as what is on your plate. I follow a simple rule: half the plate should always be vegetables or fruit. Always. Add in some daily exercise and poof, just like that, I lost over eighty pounds. No fancy program, just good habits.
I’ve noticed university students have a hard time eating well. I think it’s the huge workload combined with cafeterias filled with sugar and fat. It’s very easy to say to yourself, “I’ve got no time. I’ll just grab some convenient comfort food and chow down real quick.” To avoid the freshman fifteen, I always found the tastiest, healthiest things in the cafeteria and proved to myself that it’s actually very easy to eat properly in university. What works for me: recognizing that greasy or sugary stuff will not fuel you properly and actually make things harder. Brains need the good stuff!
I’ve also found home cooking to be a source of salvation. In my apartment, I exercise complete control over the foods that surround me. Thus, I have a kitchen stocked full of my favourite grub, and there are no bad fuels in my cupboards or refrigerator. It’s a win-win.
I’ve spent a lot of time exploring new recipes. Cooking is one of my favourite hobbies. I’ve got a repertoire of healthy, funky recipes, and no longer need the fatty, sugary junk. These recipes are super easy and provide a lot of leftovers. My favourites are the simplest ones, like rye biscuits or stroganoff.
I love sharing what I cook with others, and I enjoy having meals with friends. It’s a great time for connecting. If you’re like me, then you’d enjoy Friday lunches (or even just stopping by for coffee) at First Nations House. It’s great for socializing, trying good foods and sharing your favourites. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and the dinner table can be the heart of friendships. Now enough talk, let’s eat!
What’s your staple go-to meal for busy times?
What’s your favourite food to share?
To be completely honest, I don’t even know what the exact definition of a foodie is, although you’ll often find me claiming to be one. Urban dictionary had way too many varying explanations, so that didn’t help much either. I do know that the real star is the food. Which is why I recently wrote a post about making your own food, or trying some of the great food that U of T has to offer. What I like to keep in mind though, is that I’m here for about 4 years. I don’t plan on making couscous every day when some of the best places to eat are just off campus.
Being in the heart of downtown Toronto, I always like to try out what our amazing city has to offer! It’s all a part of the student experience, right? I’ve spent many a study session abandoning my books and going for walks around the outskirts of our campus, and I’ve found some really great places. Here are a few of my favorite eateries so far!
Millie Creperie near Spadina and College – This one was a fairly recent find. A friend and I decided to walk around the area and we found this place tucked away in Kensington. The crepes are served in this little cone, which doesn’t make it any easier to eat, but makes it cuter to look at!
Banh Mi Boys near Queen and Spadina – I found Banh Mi Boys during my Toronto staycation and although it’s probably the furthest spot from U of T, it’s definitely worth the walk! I never realized my love for Vietnamese food until I came across this place!
Fresh near Bloor and Spadina – If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you have to try this place out! They have amazing smoothies and a fairly large menu with vegan/vegetarian versions of your favorite foods! Must-try: Sweet Potato fries! They were good enough that I didn’t even have time to take a picture
Dlish Cupcakes near Yonge and Bloor – Dlish does amazing cupcakes. There are so many flavours to choose from, and it’s conveniently close by to campus in Yorkville. #classy.
Sakura Sushi near Bloor and Spadina – Even if you aren’t a fan of sushi, this place has plenty to offer in terms of udon, grilled meats, desserts and more. Also, did I mention it was all you can eat? *Cheers*
So that was my foodie adventure (so far). So tell me U of T, what are your favourite off-campus places to eat?
I’d like to consider myself a borderline foodie, and as a result, I refuse to let the quality of my meals slip just because of a few trivial things like ‘exams’ or ‘homework.’ I have a few go-to methods and recipes to make sure that even when heading to Robarts at 8AM for a 12 hour study session during midterms, I’ll still be able to have a healthy and preferably home-cooked meal to eat. Apparently cake pops and Frappucinos are not part of a balanced meal.
I’ve come to the realization that the problems with being healthy while busy (for me at least) can be narrowed down to a few issues:
Sometimes, it may just be easier to grab a cheesy poutine from the food truck, but I still try to make myself decent food despite these issues. After many failed attempts with expensive veggies, bland food and simply just sleeping in too late to cook anything, I’ve finally figured out a system that works for me. So here is one of my favourite recipes, along with some of my useful shortcuts to go along with it!
Let me take a minute to express my outright love for couscous. All you have to do is add boiling water, and it cooks in 5 minutes. Even if a 5-minute cooking time isn’t short enough, this is the perfect food to make in big batches on a Sunday night, for a daily grab-and-go during the week. It’s also super customizable. So if kale or celery isn’t your thing, you can add whatever vegetables you love (or whatever vegetables are cheapest to buy!). I have a flyer app on my phone called Reebee that gets me all the grocery store flyers, so I scan it to stock up on fruits, veggies, and anything else I might need thats on sale.
Recipe: Amounts can vary depending on how much you want to make but here are the general ingredients! Enjoy!
Instructions: Sauté ginger, carrots and zucchini and kale in a large pan. When cooked to your desire, add salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, mix together the tomatoes and onions with a little lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Once everything has cooled down, mix together in a large bowl and store in the fridge! This will save cooking time in the morning so you can be more relaxed. Or, you can always sleep in longer and rush out the door, but either way, you have a meal ready to go!
To make it extra special (this is where the flavor comes in), invest in some flavourful ingredients such as sriracha sauce, balsamic vinegar, sesame oil or fresh coriander (or other herbs). Most of these don’t go bad very easily and last in the pantry or fridge for a long time. It’s comforting to know that the $4 I spent on sriracha was well worth it.
Sometimes, even despite our best efforts, life can get too hectic to even make time for cooking (see: Finals week). If you ever need to find somewhere to eat on campus, there’s a app for iPhone and Android with the UeaT Campus Food Map! You’ll have all of the campus restaurants and cafés at your fingertips!
So tell me U of T, what are your go-to healthy recipes? Let me know down below in the comments or tweet me your suggestions at @Api_UofT on Twitter!
I really wanted to go on vacation this year. Like really, really wanted to go. Earlier this year I had my sights set on trying delicacies in Europe, touring ancient architecture in India, or having a breathtaking stay in Nepal.
But, alas, as summer rolled around, I knew it wouldn’t be possible this year, because of the summer grind. Vacations are hard enough to plan without jobs, school, student budgetary restraints (that’s a nice way of saying I’m a broke college student) and other summer commitments getting in the way. I’ve accepted that my cool vacation in a country I’ve never been to still awaits me (in the near future hopefully), but I didn’t want to spend my summer without ANY vacation time at all.
To solve my vacation blues, I decided to go on some mini-adventures to fulfill my vacation needs right here in the city- a staycation!
Things Api would like during a staycation:
- Somewhere to relax!
- Exotic food I’ve never tried before
- Pretty, historical architecture
- Nice Views
My first stop of the week was to relax out at the Waterfront. It’s a quick subway ride to union station and a short walk to the ferries and the boardwalk. I decided to bring a book and have a seat at one of the benches, and it was probably the most relaxed I’ve been in a while. I returned to reality feeling a little better about my upcoming finals.
Vacation spot number two was yummier than I expected. Toronto has endless possibilities when it comes to food from other cultures, but I wanted to try something something I’ve never had before. I ended up trying Kimchi fries for the first time and it was SO good! Kimchi fries are hand-cut fries with pulled pork, Kimchi (pickled cabbages), fresh leeks and a little bit of mayonnaise:
As U of T students, it’s fairly common to encounter pretty architecture, but I felt compelled to add it to my vacation list just because I need to see what else is out there (It’s not you Knox College, its me.) Therefore, spot number three was the Distillery District! This was probably the furthest spot from U of T, but its not so far out of the downtown core that it’s a difficult to get to. Truth be told, I’ve been to the Distillery before, but I just can’t get enough of it. I will use any excuse to take selfies with the twinkling lights at night time.
My final vacation spot was…*Drumroll please*… The CN Tower! For one awesome view of Toronto, the ticket is totally worth it. If you look really closely you might be able to point out places on campus like UC, Convocation Hall and Varsity Stadium!
Overall, my week has been awesome. It was nice to take a break from the regularly scheduled school programming. As the summer goes on, I plan to keep up my mini-staycations and visit somewhere different each week. So check out my shenanigans on Twitter @Api_UofT!
Until next time, U of T!
I used to snowboard a lot in the winter. Ever since I was about six years old, I was out on the snow-hills and riding chairlifts. But once I came to university, I stopped. I guess I got busy. Always finding myself, all of a sudden, at this same moment: The end of term.
Feeling rushed. Stressed. Panicked. Less than a week left of classes. Then exams. It’s especially hard because I can smell the winter break like it’s a warm, cinnamon-sugared beavertail at the bottom of the hill and I just want to bomb the course to reach it. But school and snowboarding, unfortunately, are two dissimilar things.
I can’t bomb school. I have to work hard. I have to do well. I have one final project this term (it’s true, but it’s my fifth year, so don’t hate me). I probably could rush it. But I know that if I take my time it will be better, more interesting, more enjoyable, and altogether more worthwhile.
The tricky part is committing, staying focused, and seeing the project through to the end. Whether it was my first end of term, or now my ninth, finding the energy and concentration is a challenge. Not to mention finding the time to eat, and to take healthy breaks.
And that’s where I bet most of us are right now. I’m assuming that everyone is busy, stressed, and resenting the day they ever chose to attend U of T. So I’ve decided to forgo regaling you with a tale of my own academic sufferings, and just get on with my schoolwork.
Yep, that’s right, I am going to study. I can do that, no problem. I’m going to take my time and do an excellent job. It’s not like I’ll slowly drift away to amuse myself with strange, funny, stupid, and generally pointless distractions . . .
Okay, that was fun! But I should probably get back to work.
Ha, I love that! All right, I really need to study for that in-class exam on Monday.
Wow! Just wow! But that’s enough. Time to destroy this essay!
You know, I kind of want to see that. No! Stop! I need to focus!
Maybe I could become an extra once I graduate. THAT’S IT! No more! I have to finish my schoolwork!
What just happened? How long was I watching that stuff? I guess it doesn’t really matter. It’s the end of term. Needing some kind of break from studying is inevitable. I’m not going to stress, or panic, or run away. I’m going to recognize that distractions and procrastination are normal. Good studying and good work require a break now and then.
Next time, though, I think I’ll go out for a walk. Get some fresh air. Call a friend. Eat some soup. And let my tired little brain actually rest, until it has to get back to work.
Good luck out there, U of T!
“50% less fat!” states the box of cookies on the shelf of my local supermarket.
“High fiber” says the box next to it.
While another box asserts “Made with goji berries!”
Have you ever paid attention to the bold claims splashed on the labels of food packaging in a blatant attempt to persuade us to buy them? And how often we purchase these items with little deliberation because we think we are choosing a healthier option?
Society’s increasing preoccupation with health and wellness has created a heightened awareness of sensible and healthy eating ideals. When people shop, they may now focus more on foods that are perceived as having reduced fat, sugar and sodium, as well as on foods that are organic or gluten-free. Food companies are aware of this and market their products through “healthy” food labeling to cater to these ideals in the hopes of making them more attractive and competitive. Ironically, “healthy” food labeling can actually lead to unhealthy eating habits, such as excessive caloric intake of up to 35%1!
Let’s look at some common food labeling and how psychological mechanisms can produce paradoxical eating behaviors.
1. The “low fat/low calorie” label
When people see this label, the first assumption is that there’s a low probability of overeating the particular food product. This assumption combined with the social acceptability of eating low fat/low calorie food triggers two psychological processes that lead to excessive intake. Firstly, cognitive dis-inhibition occurs—meaning that our mind feels less restricted about eating the food because we feel that it’s “okay.” Secondly, the perception of the food product’s low fat/low calorie characteristic leads to lower subjective feelings of satiation—leaving us wanting to consume more2.
So the next time you’re tempted to buy a pack of 100 calorie cookies, remember that you’re probably going to feel like you have to eat another five packs just to feel full.
2. The “organic” label
Studies show that people perceive food products labeled organic as having less calories, having a better nutritional profile than non-organic products, and tasting lower in fat and higher in fiber3. This is a common misperception, however, as “organic” describes the method of food production, not its nutritional profile. An organic muffin could have just as many, if not more calories than a non-organic muffin!
3. The “reduced sodium” label
Ever since research has shown that high sodium intake can lead to hypertension, many people have taken precautions to lower their salt intake4 . Food manufacturers have indeed responded to the demand for low sodium goods and market them as such in hopes of higher profits. However, the “reduced sodium” label has a negative effect on taste perception, so people end up adding their own salt upon consumption5, in turn defeating the health enhancing purpose of the product!
So how do we make healthy food choices given the paradoxical psychological effects of “healthy” food labeling?
Read the Nutrition Facts on packaged foods. Pay more attention to the nutritional information on food packages than just the marketing labels at the front, as they reveal a lot more about the contents of the product. Compare the information with that of similar products – you might be surprised at what you discover. For example, cereals that market themselves as low fat and high fiber may seem healthy, but they may still be packed with lots of sugar!
Better yet, as Lesley Stoyan of Daily Apple stated at the Live Well to Learn Well conference at Hart House last week, “eat without a label.” In other words, choose whole foods such as meat, chicken, fish and fruits and vegetables that have more complete nutritional profiles more often than processed foods.
So what’s been your experience in trying to eat healthier?