Getting Crafty at Hart House!

On Thursday Api and I dropped by Hart House Get Crafty to take a little break from essay writing and make some bath bombs and lip balms! Get Crafty runs every Thursday from 11-1 in the Hart House Reading Room and although it’s over for the semester I’m pretty sure they’ll be doing it again next semester! The event is totally free and provides all the materials plus tea and coffee.

It was the first time either me or Api went to Get Crafty and we had a lot of fun decorating our lip balms and attempting to wrap and decorate the bath bombs. Check out some pictures from the event below!

Hart House foyer looking into the Reading Room. A large blue banner is beside the doorway and says "Get Crafty" on it in large white and orange letters. Api with our bath bombs! Api holding two bath bombs wrapped in cellophane and tied up with purple and gold ribbons.   Some lip balms cool before they can be decorated. a purple container holds 3 lip blam tubes that have just had a lip balm mixture poured into them, they are cooling before they can be decorated. in the background are three little bottles that probably have scents or flavours in them. hands wrapping multi-coloured striped washi take around a grey lip balm tube api holds her decorated tube of lip balm up beside her face.Our finished lip balms, they smelt really really good. a hand holding a tube of lip balm in the palm. The tube has a geometric pattern on it from washi tape that has been applied to it. two tubes of lipbalm lie on a piece of paper that has instructions on how to make them. tubes of coloured cellophane (red and blue), two bags of scented herbs (rose and lavender) and two bath bombs wrapped in clear cellophane sit beside them.

All in all it was a really fun event and I’ll definitely be going to more next semester! Anyone else up to Get Crafty? 

It’s all about the free stuff: some resources to keep you going

If you’ve been tuning in this week, you’ll know that UofT has dedicated October to Mental Wellness Month, and we here at the Life@UofT blog are taking part by talking about our own experiences with stress and mental health. The hope being, that you can learn from our experiences and mistakes.

In my first few years, I thought I had to deal with things all on my own; and to a degree, I still feel that way—even though I know better. It’s not easy to ask for help, and sometimes you have to engage in some self-care. For some, that might just be sitting down with some soothing tea and watching television, get a massage, listen to some calming music, or even pop some balloons or some bubble wrap. For me, it’s always been a combination of these, but also a matter of learning to use the resources available to me.

It’s easy to think that resources are meant for other people: people who need them more. It’s just as easy to forget that sometimes we are the ones who need them. So here: let me lend a hand, and even if you think you don’t need it, please read on. Here are seven of the free resources that I use to keep on top of things during the school year:

Vintage photo of people looking at books, with an added speech bubble that says "Wowee, check out these awesome free resources, Mildred!"

1. Free Past Tests & Past Exams
I often have problems with my memory, so when it comes to midterms and exams, I can stress out a lot. Papers I can handle, but tests… tests are something else. Fortunately, the Arts and Sciences Students Union (ASSU) has filing cabinets full of past tests: literally. Just walk in with a T-Card and you can take a free peek at one of their many past tests, donated by students (find them in SS1068). (They also sell test packages around midterms). And, when it comes time for exams, you can always look at the past exam repository, to help you get a clue.

Photo of some of the files and past tests that ASSU has available.

From A(CT240) to Z(OO362), ASSU has you covered.

2. Free Essay Clinics
Essay clinics are run by professions, free of cost to you: professionals will look at drafts of your paper, and tell you how to make it better, and generally how to improve your writing, for free. And why not? You can only get better. Each college has a writing centre, and so do some departments. Find one to book a free appointment here.

3. Free Massages
Free massages, every Monday at Hart House. Enough said: click here for more details.

4. The Free Seed Library
It’s nice to take a break from studying every now and then, and I find planting relaxing (and science does say plants make you more creative). DG Ivey Library at New College has a seed library, part of the Toronto Seed Library. The idea is simple: you “check out” seeds, plant them, and when your produce is ready to harvest, you take some seeds from your yield and return them to the library for the next person to use. A nice, free way to relax and go green.

Photo of the Seed Library at New College, showing packets of seeds.

The New College Seed Library at Ivey Library

5. Free Math, Chemistry, Stats, & Eco help
Just like the writing centres: why not get free help from professionals? Get free tutoring in math, chemistry, stats, or economics. The resources are there for you!

6. Pop some Free Virtual Bubble Wrap
Okay, so this one isn’t provided by the university, but who can resist? Start popping here. (Also, you can get bubble wrap super cheap at Dollarama: just so you know).

7. Free Professor Office Hours
Nobody knows how to help you succeed in a class like the people running that class. Talk to your profs and your teaching assistants! They get pretty lonely when nobody comes by, and they’d love to chat and help you get through assignments and material. It’s also a great way to make friends (profs are people too!).

8. What about you?
I could go on and on with the other resources on campus I use, but I only get so many words per post, so why not help me out? So what resources do you use: do you have any tips or tricks to help you get through your year? Help me out and let me know in the comments!

 

Food for Thought

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.

A cookie sheet with nine golden pastry pockets with the letter Z cut into each one

These are a ton of work but definitely worth it: home-made turnover pastries with beef and sautéed vegetable filling. They also have my signature right on them (Photo by Zachary Biech)

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…

Looking outwards from the back of the First Nations House, with a large coffee machine on the right and a countertop and sink to the left

The coffee alone is enough to draw me in to the FNH kitchen (Photo by Zachary Biech)

http://i.imgur.com/0xBDi0R.jpg

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.

A Pink Lady apple, with two halfs of a turkey and cheese sandwich on Italian bread with all the veggie fixings, plus some chunks of a blueberry granola bar

Very typical lunch at my apartment (Photo by Zachary Biech)

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.

A plate with one quarter filled with beef roast, one quater with golden scalloped potatoes, one quater with roasted carrots, and one quater with baked green beans

Mmmm looks tasy; but notice the proportioning as well (Photo by Zachary Biech)

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.

A pile of potato pancakes, sliced banana coins, and two rings of red pepper with fried eggs in the middle

This is an easy, fun breakfast: Russian-style potato pancakes with egg-in-a-hole red peppers (Photo by Zachary Biech)

A picture looking over a bar counter into my little kitchen, with me standing in front of some baking ingredients

Me, doing some culinary hocus-pocus (Photo by Claudia Dessanti)

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.

Two golden-brown biscuits next to two two crepe-like creations topped with fresh blueberries

Those are rye biscuits on the right, and Russian blinchiki on the left (Photo by Zachary Biech)

My hand with an over mitt on, the thumb of which is burnt to a crisp

This is what happens when you touch the element in an oven…your thumb lights on fire like a torch (Photo by Zachary Biech)

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/rye-biscuits

http://natashaskitchen.com/2011/04/03/marias-russian-beef-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?

A bowl full of creamy beef and eggnoodles all mushed together (also you can see a sleepingbag in the background from the move-in process)

The first meal I ever cooked in my apartment: It’s an old family recipe and my staple go-to meal, which we lovingly call “eggnoodle concoction”
(Photo By Zachary Biech)

http://utsu.ca/food-and-clothing-bank/

http://utsu.ca/goodfoodbox/

Science Literacy and WW1 at the Rare Books Library

If you’ve read any of my blog posts before, you may know that I really like books. I’ve blogged about Fisher Library in the past and just last week I blogged about used book sales on campus.  Although I rarely have time to read for pleasure during the school year I still like to surround myself with books as much as possible, SO I took another trip to the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library last week to check out a special mini exhibit of some of the most important scientific books from history that they were showing as part of Science Literacy Week. Even though I’m not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination, I still appreciate these works for the scientific advancements that they’ve resulted in, and the historian/bibliophile in me just can’t resist an old book of any subject.

If you missed the mini exhibit and still want to check out some of Einstien or Darwin’s work you can submit a request to look at individual books through the library website. 

a shot showing a book by Euclid that has been translated from Greek to Arabic. The book is from 1594 and was printed in Rome.  a close up of the title page of a book that reads "construction of the great Victoria Bridge in Canada". On the small portion of the page opposite that is visible is a painting of the Bridge. a picture showing a copy of De Magnete by William Gilbert open on a desk. The page shows a Compass showing declination. a copy of Isaac Netwon's Opticks from 1704 laying open. the book is very aged looking and has very uneven edges. six books lying open to random pages on a table with discription cards below each one.    a title page (or perhaps a short pamphlet) By Albert Einstein lying on a table. The title is in German: Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitäystheorie which is in english: Foundations of the General Theory of Relativity  two pages from "the expression of the emotions in man and animals" by Charles Darwin from 1872. The placard beneath this says they are corrected proof sheets.

While I was there I also took a look at the current exhibit: “Fierce imaginings: text and image in First World War literature” which was really cool (and runs until December 19 so there’s plenty of time to go back and check it out)

Three propeganda posters from world war one on a wall. The first says "A reminder" and has some smaller text that can't be read from this distance. the second shows a youth in what looks like a scout uniform resting one foot on a drum and leaning over so his elbow is on that knee and his head is propped on his hands. Behind him in the poster are other posters encouraging people to enlist. The text of this poster states "everyone should do his bit. Enlist now." The third poster shows a women standing on a rock in the sea with a blue bliiowing toga-like dress and a red hooded cape. She is holding a sheathed sword in one hand and both arms are flung wide, she looks very passionate. In the background is a redish orange sky (like a sunset) and a ship in the sea. The text says "take up the sword of justice"

several open books and front covers of books are shown in a display case. the books are all from the first world war. The ones in focus say "Frightful war pictures" another says "the Huns Handbook"

several books of the poems of Wilfrid Owen are displayed. One is open to show a picture of him while another shoes a strange line drawing that kind of looks like a lion and a person at the same time.

 

New Discoveries: U of T Art Centre

During Orientation week I participated in an ask-an-upper-year panel as part of Kickstart Orientation that was held in the University of Toronto Art Centre (UTAC).

This was the first time I had been in UTAC and I was totally blown away at how great a space it was. Admission to UTAC is free so the other day I went in while killing time before classes to take a longer look. There are currently 3 temporary exhibits and 1 permanent exhibit to check out: one consisting of the photographs of Allen Ginsberg, one of the photographs of Robert Giard, one of the works of AA Bronson, and one consisting of Byzantine and Post Byzantine Icons from the Malcove Collection.

My favourite exhibit was “We Are Continually Exposed to the Flashbulb of Death”: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg (1953-1996)”. The photographs were amazing and there were timelines around the exhibit that illustrated his life as well as a recording of him speaking playing throughout the room. I also loved the healing tent (shown below) that was part of “AA Bronson: Life and Work” and had to resist the urge to crawl inside with a book.

I can’t believe that I didn’t know about this place for the past two years and I will definitely be going back very soon! AA Bronson, Tent for Healing, 2013 in the AA Bronson exhibit

Allen Ginsberg Exhibit: wide shot of the ginsberg exhibit wide shot of the ginsberg exhibit   photographs from the Ginsberg Exhibit close up of papers and  in the Ginsberg exhibit

Robert Giard Exhibit:photographs from the Robert Giard exhibit

wide shot of the Robert Giard exhibit

Have you checked out the U of T Art Centre in the past? What has been your favourite exhibit? 

Surviving Summer Outside the City

Like many other first year students, this summer I answered the beck and call of free rent, home cooked meals, and a steady job back in my home town.  Living just in the GTA, I didn’t think that moving back home would be too much of a change.  I figured that I’d be able to come back into the city at least a couple times a week, spend some time with friends, get some inspiration for blog posts, and hopefully go about the next 4 months in the city as if I had never left.

Home wasn't looking so bad at first

Home wasn’t looking so bad at first

Yet somewhere between 40 hour work weeks, seeing friends from home, and other essential activities like sleeping, eating, and watching every episode of Orange is the New Black, I haven’t managed to get into the city as much as I’d hoped.  And while at first I was still caught up in the bliss of being back at home, almost half of my summer is gone and I’m staring to getting city cravings. 

  • I miss being able to step out my front door and be in the heart of downtown.
  • I miss exploring new restaurants and shops, or enjoying old favourites.
  • I even find myself missing Robarts library… (well maybe not the library itself so much as the view).
The iconic view from the 12th Floor of Robarts - St. George Corner

The iconic view from the 12th Floor of Robarts – St. George Corner

So while I could go on for hours listing all the things I miss about the city, it doesn’t do anything to make lists and say things. We have to start doing things. So here goes… My Top 5 Tips for Surviving the Summer Outside the City!

1. Make it a Trip – Nothing gets you through the work week like having something to look forward to. So set a date, time, and location, and make your weekend plans official. So much of our time is spent talking about what we want to do, and not enough actually doing it. When you make plans and put them in your calendar, it’s like booking a mini vacation. We have something to work towards the rest of the week, and it ensures that we actually follow through with our plans.

2. Attend Free Events – Traveling into the city can be expensive enough. Between transit costs, meals, and even taking time off work, the last thing you need to do when you’re in the city is spend more money on doing activities. There are tonnes of free events that happen in the city every week, you just need to seek them out. Two of my favourites? The Trinity Bellwoods Blockparty and the FREE outdoor movie screenings in Queens Que.

3. Get a Presto Pass – So many of the times I’ve ditched friends or never followed through with plans was because I didn’t feel like spending money on transit. Getting a Presto Pass changed this for me. Although it’s still spending money, it doesn’t feel like it because you pre-load it and then just swipe on and off. It takes away the conscious feeling of having to go to the teller and pay. It’s also actually cheaper – so that’s always nice too!

My other commuting essentials include; an on-the-go phone charger, water, comfortable shoes to change into, something to read or listen to music on, earphones, and a coin purse for TTC change

My other commuting essentials include; an on-the-go phone charger, water, comfortable shoes to change into, something to read or listen to music on, earphones, and a coin purse for TTC change

 

4. Stay Educated – Whether you’re in Hamilton or Hong Kong, sometimes it’s just not possible to make it into the city. However that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stay informed. Track #UofT on twitter, follow some of the main Toronto blogs, and just keep yourself updated about what’s going on in the city. Not only will it keep you feeling like you never left, but as September 1st approaches, it’ll also get you even more excited about coming back.

 

5. Explore Your Own Area – Finally, don’t neglect your own neighbourhood. While I’ve still yet to find a place that serves fried cheesecake, like Hey Lucy on Bloor, I’ve definitely found some cool new places in my hometown. For all the days that you can’t come into the city, which will always be more than we’d all like, don’t forget to explore the cool places that could be just around your block.

The artery-clogging, deep-fried, best-thing-you'll-ever-eat, cheese cake from Hey Lucy on Bloor

The artery-clogging, deep-fried, best-thing-you’ll-ever-eat, cheese cake from Hey Lucy on Bloor

 

So that’s how I’m attempting to cope with my Toronto withdrawal. It’s hard, and sometimes I think I’m just going to pack my suitcase and move back, but I know that I made this decision for a reason – and it was a good reason at that.  Coming home this summer was the stepping stone that I needed, to prepare myself mentally, emotionally, and most importantly financially, for next year. On top of which, commuting in and out of the city has made me develop a stronger admiration for it and all the amazing opportunities that it offers.

 

So U of T, are you spending your summer in the city? If you’re not, how are you coping? And if you are, what are some things I should check out next time I’m in town?

 

My Toronto Staycation!

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.

IMG_1965

Perfect day to relax!

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:

Some kimchi+pulled Pork yumminess <3

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.

photo 2

I have about 20 versions of this picture because I take one every time I go #Guilty

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!

IMG_2509

Beautiful city, beautiful sunset!

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!

Not Your Typical Dodgeball

Reflecting back on my school years before university, I realize that I had a love/hate relationship with physical education class. I loved it during my elementary years because gym class often meant little more than playfully hiding under a gigantic rainbow parachute. But with high school, came the beep test, where students would have to do a certain number of laps and drills in a short amount of time… in a nutshell, it is probably the worst creation by the kinesiology gods. But the “fun” sport that I grew to love/hate most was dodgeball. It was scary and aggressive, but also thrilling and rewarding—especially for the winners!

Last week while doing my usual search for local Facebook events, I found an event link posted on the MoveU Facebook page that was UTSC PACE-sponsored. UTSC PACE stands for Physical Activity Coaches & Educators. I hung out on the UTSC PACE Facebook page to learn more about the event. When I read the word “dodgeball,” I thought to myself, “hmm, that sounds interesting.” But then, after reading more, I found out that was not just any dodgeball, it was trampoline dodgeball. Even though I have never been to the UTSC campus before, I didn’t let my lack of tri-campus knowledge hold me back. I was determined to jump on those freaking trampolines. So off I went!

What I loved off the bat was that there was free transportation to the Skyzone Indoor Trampoline Park from the UTSC campus. The UTSC PACE crew also gave us free refreshments (“free” is one word that will never cease to amaze me). Once we arrived at the park, the realization that I didn’t know anyone coming into this event hit me. And I think the crew at UTSC PACE predicted that there were going to be a lot of students like me attending this event, which was why the mixed the group of over 50 plus students around and separated us into teams of virtual strangers. From that moment on, I was no longer “the loner kid who didn’t know anyone.” I was delegated to the blue team and we all had to find a way to make our team work while getting to know one another.

If only human sized pop bottles were such a thing. VIA GIFBIN.COM

The first few tries on trampoline dodgeball were overwhelming. Each zone was split in half with six trampoline pods on each side (one for each player on the team), along with side trampolines on the wall. Although it sounds easy, it was actually quite difficult at first. The trampolines were so bouncy that I had to find a way to become more agile to allow myself to turn around and aim my ball at a target. Nonetheless, I still had fun just jumping around and pretending that I was levitating (because that’s a childhood dream of mine). And I wasn’t alone, because while my team spent time getting the hang of playing dodgeball on trampolines, we kind of wiped out the first few times. However, we found a way to work the system midway through. Once a new game would start, we would alternate in each pod in zigzags while switching around. When one of us got out first, no one groaned at them for leaving early. Instead, we worked hard to catch a ball so that we could bring that member back in the zone. And our technique worked. We won our last game!

Lo and behold, the Skyzone Centre. VIA ISABEL GANA, UTSC PACE

Lo and behold, the Skyzone Centre. VIA ISABEL GANA, UTSC PACE

Afterwards, we were given the option to join around different mixed teams for more games, or to explore around. I decided to play trampoline basketball, and lived my dream of doing a slam dunk after five failed tries (yes, even with the assistance of trampolines). I also jumped into a foam pit because, hey, what’s a zone full of trampolines without any foam pits? It was hilarious to watch people jump in, get stuck, and champion their way out.

Yours truly, stuck in a foam pit. VIA ISABEL GANA, UTSC PACE

Yours truly, stuck in a foam pit. VIA ISABEL GANA, UTSC PACE

Even though I can be shy at times, I loved meeting fellow students beyond the St. George campus. I felt more connected to my university as well. It was refreshing to know that a lot of people agree that jumping on trampolines is fun, and that it’s a form of exercise for the kid in us. Also, aside from realizing a love for trampoline-related events, I’m now interested in tri-campus events. So I’m excited to see what else will come up this school year!

And yes, if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, I probably have reached a new record in writing the word “trampoline” the most times in a student life blog post.

—Amanda

Halloween: Fight or Flight?

When I think of Halloween, I think of a holiday based on horror. But a holiday based on tackling my fears? Not really. However, this year, I bit the bullet and decided to attend MoveU’s Halloween event, Scary Skate. Yes, I took the name of this event quite literally; ice skating isn’t exactly my forte.

I’d rather do this than skate. –VIA SOULFULSOCK.TUMBLR.COM

I know. Despite all the free skating, free rentals, free refreshments, all the free glory, I was still trying to find a way of getting out of the event. I mean, the weather was kind of rainy, and my common room was warm and cozy, and practically told me to sit on the couch and watch TV for the night. However, I knew that if I backed out, I would regret not giving myself a chance to try to tackle my fear. It’s thrilling to take a few risks once in a while, and just remind myself what I can do. And again, the event was free, so there was nothing to lose.

Despite the rainy weather, I walked to the Varsity Centre. Since “free” is practically a magic word for the university student, and ice skating is (surprisingly, in my opinion) a harmlessly fun past-time for many people, Scary Skate was quite full, so I ended up having to wait for a while until I finally got to put on my skates. While waiting around with a few friends, I watched some students skate on the rink. There was one girl doing a triple axel, and two people were falling down repeatedly. I instantly knew who I was going to be when I hit the ice.

Alright, show off.. –FIGURESKATERXOX.TUMBLR.COM

When I did get on the rink, let’s just say that I spent the majority of the time grabbing on to the boards, while doing a little skating here and there. Most of my energy was spent on screaming or laughing every time I managed to skate free of my friends’ arms or the boards. The thing about skating is that in order to balance, you need to have a strong core. Even though I barely skated without support, I managed to avoid falling face first onto the ice when I did let go. This feat, my dear readers, is probably due to my new found friendship with planking and the core strength I’ve developed as a result!

Planking is a wonderful thing that will protect you from this. I think.. –VIA SENIORGIF.COM

Afterwards, I decided to hit up Victoria College’s Halloween pub night, instead of watching TV, because I felt energetic about the fact that I actually got on the ice. I wanted to reward myself. At the pub, I talked to my friend, who is also a spinning instructor at the Athletic Centre, about my time at Scary Skate. After telling her how it was a sort of a struggle for me, she told me that she also leads a skating class every Friday morning (um, how does this girl find energy?). She offered to teach me how to properly skate one-on-one at the Varsity Centre next time. I’m also planning to drop by the Athletic Centre for another spin class because what else is friendship for but to support one another? I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve found that it pays to talk about where I’m at in my journey for a more active lifestyle. Just talking about what I need to improve on helps to make my change feel real, especially if I’m surrounded by active friends willing to encourage me.

So ice skating is a work in progress, but Scary Skate was nonetheless fun! I enjoyed goofing around and not being serious with friends (while they showed off their spectacular skating skills). Most of all, I like the inclusive mood at MoveU events, especially since I’ve been getting into a rut with my lone exercise routine. After all, you can only do so much planking alone in your room.

Anyway, next week, on November 6th, MoveU and UTSC’s PACE team are hosting a tri-campus event: dodge ball at Skyzone Indoor Trampoline Park. It’s only $5 and transportation will be provided, as well as free food and equipment. I’m sorry, but I have to repeat: Trampoline Park. Free. Fun time guaranteed. I’ve never been to a tri-campus event before, so this is going to be another “risk-taking” task that will call on me to conquer another fear: getting over my shyness. But, this is going to be at a trampoline park, and nothing is going to stop me from going.

I’m going to bring my game on next week. –VIA GIFBAY.COM

Since I’m tackling a fear each week, I dare you, fellow readers, to do the same. Perhaps I’ll see you at the trampoline park?

— Amanda

The Jolly Season of Midterms

Oh midterm season, that dreadful time of year when everyone hides in their rooms or at the library, with their heads buried in their textbooks, forgetting that they ever had a social life. As a second-year student, I know the drill now. But nonetheless, I’m still worried because each year, the work becomes harder. This time around I don’t have any exams, which I am glad about, but I have two papers and two presentations to complete. At U of T, no one escapes midterm season scot-free; there is always something to study for.

The thing is, I know that I won’t get anything done when I’m stressed out; I put things off until the eleventh hour. And even though I’m probably going to leave one of those assignments for the classic do-it-all-in-one-night style (hey, it’s a student tradition), I still want to be, and to feel, at the top of my game. So, at the start of the week, I made a list of goals to keep my head in check:

1. Go to the gym at least once alone and once with a friend (maybe this is how I can be social again).
2. Keep attending Pilates classes.
3. Between reading a chapter, or writing a paragraph, stop and stretch for relaxation.
4. Take time to do the much appreciated “treat yo’self.” Seriously.

Parks and Recreation had this right all along. –VIA SPIFFYPOP.TUMBLR.COM

When it came to actually completing my to-do list, I was running short on energy, but still managed to reach these goals.

1. Gym?
I was aiming to be one of those “I-wake-up-at-6:00AM-to-go-to-the-gym”-types of people, but this week was devoted to night time exercising. Also, it was easier to go with a friend at night since we both had an evening class together. Even though I wasn’t active during my planned time, I was still being active nonetheless. After all, the most important part was that after returning back to my room, I was calm enough to be able to sit down and focus on my readings.

2. + 3. Doing Pilates + Practicing my stretches
I attended my Pilates class, but it was a struggle. I fell behind on practicing my planking, which I’d made a pact to perfect since last week. The night before Pilates class, I stayed up until 4:00AM doing readings and editing a paper. I woke up early  all groggy and exhausted. In retrospect, staying up so late (or early, if you’re a grim thinker) wasn’t the best decision, but I didn’t want that mistake let me skip my Pilates class, and cause a chain reaction for the rest of the week. So I went!

And you know what? When I left the AC after class, I felt revived. I was still drained from the lack of sleep, but I was calmer, and had more patience to carry on with the rest of the day. Also, I did manage to slip in some time to practice the plank afterwards.

Don’t pull an all-nighter. Your eyes will punish you for it. —VIA GIFGARAGE.COM

4. Time off + Motivation
Also I did manage to take time to achieve number four on my list, that “treat yo’self” task that I promised I would do. After completing my first presentation, I decided to take a hike to a cute café in Kensington Market. There I lounged around while sipping some blueberry honey tea. It didn’t hurt that the café made a great place for me to study at the same time.

And another thing that’s helping me to get through midterms that didn’t make my list? Making plans to join in on fun events. I realized that I needed some extra motivation to push through my never-ending pile of assignments. Most of all, I need the balance that being social brings. There’s an upcoming MoveU event coming up, Scary Skate, on October 31st. Also, it’s free, as in free to attend, with free refreshments, and free skate rentals—as a university student, I am shameless to say that free is my favourite word. Although I guess in this case, free comes with a cost, since I have a fear of skating. But I’m curious to try it out. And if I can survive midterms, then I’m confident that I’ll survive giving ice-skating another chance.

Even this goat can skate better than me. –VIA 4GIFS.COM

So now, it’s your turn to tell me dear readers. What have you been doing to keep active (and survive) this midterm season?