Finding #JoyAtUofT andThe Magic of 21 Sussex

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!

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 12.50.43 PM

Some of the many services at 21 Sussex!

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.

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Some of the many awesome things we have in our office!

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.

Photo of the 21 Sussex clubhouse

Conveniently located right by Robarts!

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!

Getting in and Getting Connected

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.

eight or nine bags of groceries on my kitchen counter

Hope starts with a big load of groceries! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

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.

A cutting board, chopped onions and green peppers, mushrooms, and cheese slices, next to a bowl of eggs ready for mixing

Here’s an example: an omelette with balanced ingredients for lunch! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

A fried omelette, with marble rye peanut butter toast, a banana, and dried apricots next to a glass of coke zero

Balanced omelette with a balanced lunch! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

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!

A double dream-catcher with many beautiful feathers

Your heart can be found in your dreams (Photo by Zachary Biech)

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!

A large abalone shell with sage, cedar, and sweetgrass

Smudging with the Native Students’ Association, in the fourth floor office of First Nations House (Photo by Zachary Biech

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
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Grease a regular casserole or baking sheet
  3. In large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together
  4. Cut butter into dry mix and use whisk to mash and mix butter until it resembles coarse crumbs
  5. In separate bowl, mix egg and cream
  6. Pour egg mixture into dry mixture and mix with fork just until all dry ingredients are moistened
  7. Split the batter into 4 equal blobs, place in casserole or on baking sheet
  8. Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown
  9. Eat!
Golden biscuits, creamy fruit mix, and two small cups with eggs in them

Mmmmmm these are the rye biscuits with a creamy fruit ambrosia and eggettes (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Find Your Love

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!

Picture of Api with animated hearts floating around her head

Love is in the air!

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:

Dear Netflix,

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.

Picture of Netflix default user face. Green Square with 2 dots for eyes and a line for smile.

Just when I think I’m out, that face pulls me back in.

I think it’s time for us to see other people. It’s not you, it’s me.

Xoxox. Sincerely,

Api

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!

Ice and Events: Reading Week 2015

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!

A wet snowy day, looking down one of the colourful crazy streets of Kensington Market

I think this is from right before reading week 2014, in Kensington Market (Photo by Zachary Biech)

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!

Looking forward form the passenger seat in a truck, with almost no visibility from all the snow

An Albertan winter highway (Photo by Zachary Biech)

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!

http://physical.utoronto.ca/docs/drop-in-programs-schedules-fees-forms/february-2015-drop-in-skating.pdf?sfvrsn=0

http://nathanphillipssquareskaterentals.com

Me, on skates, out in the middle of the Varsity skating rink

This is me at the Varsity Arena sometime during the 2013-2014 school year (Photo by Heejung Jung)

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!

http://www.aht.ca/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2015/02/25/458/83|93|94|96|97/youth-sweat?Itemid=1

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?

Fun in the Snow

Sometimes, you don’t need a reason to have a little fun.

You are in for a treat this week! I was really happy with my completion of four midterms and an essay in my first month back from the holiday so I decided to make Snow Zachs once a day this week in random places across campus!

From my point of view while lying in the snow, looking at the main University College building

Monday: My first attempt, on Front Campus (Photo by Zachary Biech)

There’s so much snow! I love the frosty atmosphere. Where I’m from, big winter snows are a regular part of life (it’s also snowed in every single month of the year in southern Alberta, I’m not kidding) so it’s no wonder I am delighted by this weather.

My perspective, lying in the snow in Queen's Park, looking towards the university buildings through the trees with a low afternoon sun in the background

Tuesday: Snow Zach relaxing in Queen’s Park! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

A perfect snow angel in deep snow in the middle of Queen's Park

Leaving my Mark on Queen’s Park (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Many students disagree with my affection for the winter as many are accustomed to warmer climates. Many students had never seen snow before coming here and seemed a little confused when the big storms blanketed the city.

My feet, lying in the snow, looking at an odd statue in a park behind the residences of Saint Michael's College

Wednesday: Snow Zach sighted at St. Michael’s College! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Though I can understand the lack of appreciation for the snow, what worries me more is people’s lack of appreciation for fun during this time of year. January and February are always painted as the hardest, nastiest and busiest months during which people are the most miserable.

from my perspective while lying in the snow, looking at the obelisk frames in the grass plot in front of Hart House

Thursday: Good spot for a Snow Zach right in front of Hart House (Photo by Zachary Biech)

This un-fun mindset probably explains the strange experiences I had making the Snow Zachs. The first thing that confused me was the fact that nobody had many any yet. There was so much snow all over campus with so many good places for snow angels and yet nobody made any. What was the reason for this?

My perspective lying in the snow in the shade, next to Sidney Smith Hall looking towards the New College Buildings to the west lit by morning sunlight

Friday: There’s always room for one last Snow Zach, even right next to Sidney Smith Hall! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

While I was making each Snow Zach, I think I discovered the reason. People are scared to have fun in public here. It’s no wonder; you should have seen some of the strange looks people gave me as they saw me lying in the snow! “Look at this hooligan!” they said with their eyes, “he should be in class, miserable like the rest of us!” If felt like I was offending people with my happiness.

It’s never really been my style to follow those kinds of rules. People have been giving me strange looks for years because of every little thing I do or wear or say. Even when I smile, people are surprised because they are not used to being around positivity. It’s tragic. But I will not stop having fun and being myself just because uptight people don’t think I’m uptight enough!

I was telling somebody about making the Snow Zachs and they looked a bit confused. “Why are you making those, what’s the reason or purpose?” My immediate response was, “sometimes, you don’t need a reason to have a little fun.”

My shaded snow angel next to Sidney Smith, looking towards Saint George Street

Friday was definitely the coldest day for making Snow Zachs, and my hands were almost too frozen to take pictures (Photo by Zachary Biech

Zach’s got your back! I know it can take a lot of courage to have fun when the hustle and bustle surrounds you, but I and people like me are all over this campus, waiting to share our courage and joy with you! First Nations House is a great place to surround yourself with this positive atmosphere and it provides the all the balancing effects of community and friendship. So be happy! Be yourself!

The only permission you need is your own.

Looking down at the head of my Snow Zach, at a little smiley face I drew with my frozen finger

A little joy at U of T (Photo by Zachary Biech)

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway: Winter Commutes to U of T

Back in the summer, I wrote about surviving the summer heat while being a commuter. Rachael’s covered the campus winter life hacks, but in light of the recent snowmageddon that was unleashed upon the city (possibly a mild exaggeration), I knew it was time for: The commuter’s edition of surviving the winter!

Picture of Robart's library

If this majestic bird can tolerate winter, so can you.

1. Stay warm!

If I’m being honest, I’ve been that person who didn’t wear a hat because I didn’t want to mess up my cute hairdo. No one likes dealing with the bulkiness of winter clothing, especially if you’re alternating from bus to train to sidewalk during a commute. I try to look for items that keep me warm without all the bulk. Fleece-lined gloves, earmuffs, headbands, and even better insulated shoes and jackets have helped me stay warm without looking like the Michelin man (and they even keep me warm without messing up my hair!!)

2. Transit will be a mess. Accept it. Embrace it. Prepare for it.

I’ll admit, I get irrationally angry when the train gets delayed during storms, or when streetcars aren’t in service because of snow, but I know it’s impossible for transit systems to anticipate and prepare for everything that comes along with crazy winter weather. Staying updated, leaving early, dressing warmly and having a game or book as a distraction are all things that keep my spirits a little higher during delays. This handy TTC updates Twitter and the GO Mobile app have (relatively) up-to-the-minute information. I also have a tactic of leaving around times that the subway won’t have as much people. Pro-tip: Half past the hour is usually the least crowded time at the stations near campus because classes tend to finish on the hour!

3. Stay Safe!

If you’re able to, stay home! Poor visibility, slippery roads and just an overall mess of wetness make for pretty treacherous commutes already. Combine that with the generally bad traffic downtown and it creates pretty dangerous conditions. I’ve been caught driving in some pretty terrible storms and I can confirm that it’s difficult enough to see the car in front of me, let alone the people walking around them. I’ve emailed professors or TA’s and they’ve generally understood the situation, and thus the self-declared snow day was born.

Bonus: ENJOY!

It’s easy to get frustrated during cold, harsh winters, but it does have its upside. Imagine walking through the fresh snow on St George St. Possibly stepping out onto King’s College Circle and seeing the skyline blurred by the snow.

Picture of King's college circle with blurred CN tower in the background  Perhaps the upside could even be a U OF T SNOW BATTLE?

picture of students throwing snow with University College in the Background

If this isn’t a good enough reason to love winter, I don’t know what is! Picture via Life at U of T Facebook page.

So tell me U of T, how do you cope with commuting in the winter?

Long Winter Living

Wow, what a month! Now that January is over, we can get right into February (though I’m pretty sure February might be even crazier). I had three tests and an essay in the first four weeks of this semester with another two tests coming up right away. Reading week can’t come fast enough!

Looking out over the thick layer of snow in Queen's Park, complete with footprint trails

Big winter snowfall means a difficult walk ahead (Photo by Zachary Biech)

These busy streaks go differently each time. Since I’ve been back from the holiday, it’s been hard to get back into a balanced routine. I have been a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of different tasks that came my way. Exams usually throw everybody’s routine into chaos, almost like the whole student population goes into extreme survival mode. So far this year, it feels like that chaos never really ended.

One of the benches in front of Sidney Smith hall, completely buried in fresh snow

Buried…exactly how I feel! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

But, if you can be tough enough to get through the work and keep your life somewhat intact, you may find the time for things other than schoolwork. But things cannot always be that balanced, despite even your best efforts. Sometimes, the best we can do is to keep going in the times when life can’t be balanced.

A huge stack of papers next to a huge stack of assignments next to a huge stack of book. Did I mention it's a huge stack?

This is what my first two years of university look like… (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Not to worry! There’s so much at this university to help us and all we have to do is seek it out. Indigenous Education Week has been a great example. There were many events to choose from, each with a unique perspective. First Nations House offered enough events to appeal to everyone.

A shelf with, you guessed it, a huge stack of books and paper

This is what my year in-progress looks like! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

The first event I went to was part of the Aboriginal Studies Department. Rene Andre Meshake–an accomplished poet, flute musician, and promoter of Anishnaabemowin teachings–came to give a workshop for ABS students including my ABS210 class. Rene is a superb storyteller and teacher! His unique experiences and personal story, combined with his vibrant artistic style, were really inspiring. His workshop really turned my day around!

http://www3.sympatico.ca/renemeshake/

I’m also going to a screening in Robarts on Friday of “Trick or Treaty?” directed by Alanis Obomsawin put on by the Native Students’ Association and the Indigenous Education Network. Friday is always a good movie night! Everybody I know who has watched this film tells me it will make me laugh and cry all at the same time. I can’t wait!

http://www.tiff.net/festivals/thefestival/programmes/masters/trick-or-treaty

Education, as I have learned this week, is not just about schoolwork. Education is about life. You learn a lot of different things in university but make sure you learn how to live well! First Nations House provides the programming for this learning and helps me learn more about life every day!

Looking up at Robarts, with it's windows lit up against the night sky

This was taken just after the screening of Trick or Treaty? in Robarts, which was awesome (Photo by Zachary Biech)

How will you live well this week? Did you see any of the news about the campus-wide snowball fight on Front-Campus? Those students did a great job adding to their lives! For me, living well can be as simple as watching a good movie. So I’ll find myself a good thriller or sci-fi, and settle in for a great weekend. I even bought the popcorn, so I’m good to go!

http://www.thestar.com/news/2015/02/03/u-of-t-snowball-fight.html

 

Storytellers

Storytelling is very powerful. Stories can hold all the experiences of a person’s life and the lives of their ancestors, even if the stories are short and specific. Stories also evolve the more times they are told and listened to.

A beige cloth coaster with turquoise, rusty red, and black imagery of a turtle

There are many teachings and stories even in this small picture, though it can take a lifetime to learn them all! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I try to tell stories all the time. The key word there is try. I rarely get all the messages across the way I want to but I think everybody feels this way at some point. We all have so much to share!

Lee Maracle, who is a traditional teacher at First Nations House, is also a Grandmother of storytelling. Her experiences and activities cover a huge range and span from all across the country! She is a great authority on Indigenous literature and has written in many different forms: fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She also speaks with this authority and she has recently released another book called Celia’s Song.

http://anishinabeknews.ca/2014/12/22/celias-song-brings-colonialism-to-life/

Lee is around to meet with you on Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon.

Teaching is a key function of stories. Indigenous Education Week in Toronto this year exemplifies this relationship and the city is buzzing with many excellent activities based on Indigenous learning and teaching systems. First Nations House has events every day from Feb. 2-6.

I couldn’t get the poster the load properly, so check out the First Nations House Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/First-Nations-House-University-of-Toronto/8295583041?fref=nf

A very snowy day, with grey skies and heavy snowfall, looking across a white and fluffy Queen's Park to the west, at some of the old red brick houses of St. Michaels College, and the grey towers beyond

There is so much to learn, and so many stories to hear in every corner of U of T (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I’m really excited because this will be a new experience for me and I hope to learn a lot from all those willing to share. Mainstream education systems can be quite dry so these new teachings will help bring some life back into learning!

http://www.blogto.com/city/2015/01/a_guide_to_indigenous_toronto/

On Tuesday February the 3rd, I’ll be going to an Anishnaabemowin poetry reading at the Multi-Faith Centre. Poetry is a mystery to me mostly but the words in songs and poems are still powerful stories. I’m even learning the power of such words in my Russian language class where we’ve been reciting and learning the beauty held within Russian poeticism and novels.

A poem in Russian cyrillic letters, hardly sensible even when translated to English

This is a poem by Sergei Esenin (he wrote it in his own blood, freaky right?) (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I just read that last sentence to myself, and I think I must sound a little too poetic for my own good! The only poetry I’ve ever written was, well, never. To be honest, I’m finding that I barely even know the English language, and I’m getting worse at it as I learn more Anishnaabemowin and Russian!

Looking up at the southwest corner of University College, with it's old grey stones and shingles covered in fresh snow on this cloudy snowy day

So many stories have been born in the old UC building, including some of mine! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

It’s always worth the extra effort spent on getting ahead with schoolwork so we can experience more later on. I’m trying my best to get everything caught up this week so I can spend some time relaxing and learning during Indigenous Education Week. Relaxation is especially important this time of year, as the cold can be hard on us and I’m finding school to be very busy. January was intense enough, but February will be even more ridiculous! Stay strong and be resilient now through the hard work and tough times, and you will have a bigger life in the long run, with more experiences and better stories to share.

A snowy Soldier's Tower on a Snowy Day

Soldier’s Tower also has many stories within it’s coloured glass window (Photo by Zachary Biech)

A Beginners Guide to (almost, kind of) Surviving Statistics

Throughout all the trials and tribulations of university, whether it be cramming for 5 midterms in one week, or starting a 3000 word essay the night before, there is only one thing that actually, genuinely terrifies me:

Statistics. 

picture of Api with a face palm

Stats = eternal face palm :(

Unfortunately, the introductory statistics courses are required for my major. Of all my courses, it’s the one lecture that I don’t find interesting and engaging. To me, it’s like statistics has become the lone MySpace page in a sea of artfully crafted Facebook profiles.

I’m not sure why, but I’ve always found understanding statistics difficult. Maybe it all the “analysis” or whatever that’s involved, but my brain does not work that way. In the summer, I managed to get through the first introductory statistics course here at U of T (STA220, PSY201 or their equivalents) but I had a very specific system that made getting through the course a little bit easier.

I thought I would be done with statistics, but my best friend the Course Calendar kindly informed me that I still needed another half credit.

Api looking disconcerted

Statistics. Honestly.

There I was, once again terrified of numbers, so I knew it was time to refer back to my statistics game plan. I’ve also met many classmates who share the same anxious feelings towards to statistics, so hopefully this helps not just me, but everyone who’s tackling the course this semester (and in semesters to come)!

API’S POSSIBLY FOOLPROOF STATS GAME PLAN

1. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE

I remember on the first day of my first statistics my professor telling the class that we had to constantly do practice questions to keep up, and I’m not going to lie: I scoffed. DO THEY UNDERESTIMATE MY ABILITY TO SUCCESSFULLY CRAM INFORMATION INTO MY HEAD THE NIGHT BEFORE? No. No they did not. It took me a full three-day library session at Robart’s to actually catch up with the small amount of material I nonchalantly didn’t do.

2. There’s a Statistics Aid Center!!! 

It didn’t know about the Statistics Aid Centre until after I took statistics, dropped the course and then finally buckled down and took it the second time. They have people on hand to help you and it’s an amazing resource to make use of!

3. Finding statistics software 

My stats course included assignments and homework that were done on statistical software, and I found out that Robart’s Library has computers with statistical software installed on them! There’s also a computer lab at Sidney Smith with computers as well! I designated a weekly time to use the computer labs, so not only was I saving money on purchasing the software, I was also making myself have at least a few hours of stats practice each week.

Api giving a thumbs up

GOD SPEED, MY FRIENDS

So there you have it folks. That was my statistics game plan, and I’m hoping it’s going to work again this semester. Good luck everyone!

If you have any other tips, let me know down in the comments or on Twitter at @Api_UofT!

To Credit or Not to Credit?

As I write this post I have officially finished 4 out of my 5 exams! (Promptly after I have submitted it I plan on passing out for a nap and then spending the rest of my day watching Christmas movies) However today I also wrote my first exam for a credit-no-credit course. 

At the University of Toronto, Arts & Science students have a unique opportunity to use the credit-no-credit option on up to 2 full credits in their undergrad. This option allows you to take a course in your undergrad without having the final mark appear on, or effect, your transcript. It can’t be used for any courses that are a program requirement, however you can use it to fulfill your breadth requirements! There are a lot of other conditions to take into consideration before you CR/NCR a course, so make sure to visit this page, or talk to your registrar first. 

a computer, notebook, and cup of coffee all placed on a fluffy white duvet in a studying setting

See, maybe if I could make studying as cute as Amie, I wouldn’t have these problems!

Now unfortunately, it’s too late to CR/NCR a course at this point in the semester (at least for 1/2 year courses) – but I wanted to share my experience CR/NCR-ing a course, in case it could help you make a decision next semester! 

This year I decided to take an “elective” of sorts – basically a course that wasn’t in my department but that seemed really interesting to me. Come the first test I was loving the course! I felt that I really understood the content and it was actually interesting to me. So I was not very impressed with myself when I got back my first test with a very discouraging mark. 

I was loving the course, but I knew that a mark like this one would bring my GPA way down. (Especially since the test was worth 30% of my final mark!)  

IMG_1008

All this studying, and nothing seemed to be paying off

I had heard of people credit-no-credit-ing a course, but I didn’t know exactly what it entailed, or if it was really a viable option for me. So I did some research, and on the day before the deadline, I chose to CR/NCR on ROSI. 

The next week in class, I immediately noticed a difference. I wasn’t spending every minute trying to write down everything the professor was saying and I didn’t feel the need to scour through my readings for all exam-worthy information. I was actually enjoying the course content.

Who would have known, but as soon as the pressure of getting a good grade in the course was gone, I actually started to do better. My mark on my next assignment improved and walking out of my exam today I couldn’t help but smile thinking I had done pretty well. 

Life was so much easier when it was just me, my bib, and a cat

Life was so much easier when it was just me, my bib, and a cat

I know that a lot of people utilize the credit-no-credit program for courses they’re worried they might not pass, but for me it was just a great opportunity to take a subject I was interested in without all the pressure of marks. 

It encouraged me to branch out into more subjects that aren’t in my program and re-ignited my love of learning. It’s even made me look into options such as auditing a course, which Life@UofT blogger Elena wrote about in the summer.

So this was my first experience credit-no-crediting a course, and I really couldn’t be happier with the results. But how about you U of T? Have you ever CR/NCR a course? Do you prefer to save these for emergency cases, or utilize them for new learning experiences? Let me know in the comments below or on twitter at @Rachael_UofT