A U of T Student’s Recipe for Success

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.

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When it looks this good, anything can be a 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:

  1. Money
  2. Flavor
  3. Time

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!

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Couscous Salad!

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!

-1 cup of cooked couscous
-1/2 cup of chopped kale
-1/2 cup of scraped carrots
-1/2 cup of scraped zucchini
-1 tomatoe, diced into small pieces
-1 small onion diced into small pieces
-1 tsp chopped ginger
-salt and pepper to taste
-lemon juice
-2-3 tbsp of olive oil

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.

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Just kidding, I never regret the sriracha.

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!

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 5.12.19 PM

Makes it easier to find Harvest Noon <3

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!

To Prospective MoveU’ers

Right now, many high school students are looking at their offers of acceptance and making big decisions. Part of that decision is considering what a university has to offer, lifestyle-wise (hey, university is more than just academics).

Staying active is crucial to your university experience. So to any of you prospective student readers out there, let me share with you some of the best aspects of U of T St. George campus.

The Athletic Centre
Ah, the good ol’AC. If you’re looking for a gym to work out in, or to take drop-in and registered classes that range from Parkour to Pilates, you’re covered. This place is legitimate — there is a dance studio (which I am currently taking ballet classes in), a 50-feet Olympic pool, field house, spinning room, weight room and various other rooms filled with brand new, and top of the art exercise equipment, you can spend days exploring this behemoth of a building.

Lo and behold, the Athletic Centre. VIA PHYSICAL.UTORONTO.CA

The Athletic Centre is also near another behemoth — the concrete peacock library of our time, Robarts. Need a break from studying to go work out, or vice versa? The buildings are about three minutes away from each other. How convenient to your academic and athletic career in university!

Does it not look like a peacock though? VIA SCE.LIBRARY.UTORONTO.CA

Hart House
Personally, the fact that you can be able to say to people that the gym you go to is in a castle-like building adds more cred to what Hart House is. People call this building Hogwarts for a reason: tons of stairs and arched windows. Although this gym isn’t as spacious as the Athletic Centre, it’s a gem on the U of T campus. I love the coziness of the small weight room, and the fact that the running track is just above the gymnasium, where many drop-in and registered classes take place. Most of all, it’s located at the heart of the U of T campus, and which makes it easy to travel to.

Ye olde Hart House. VIA HARTHOUSE.CA

MoveU Passport/Co-Curricular Record

The University of Toronto has introduced the co-curricular record, which is a transcript that keeps track of your activity and participation on campus. How can I build my CCR, you ask? Participate in extra-curriculars, work in jobs on campus, and take part of CCR-recognized events and programs, such as the MoveU Passport. The MoveU Passport, as I explained in my previous post, is an initiative where taking part in weekly MoveU events and getting active will count toward your CCR. Past events held by the MoveU Passport include Dance Conditioning, Table Tennis, and many more in this drop-in schedule! I don’t know about you, but having a flawless CCR is another reason worth going to the gym for!

The best part about all of these places and programs?
You’ll be able to meet people and make new friends through being healthy and active on campus.

Cheesy, but it’s true!

If you prospective students want to ask any questions about MoveU, feel free to ask away in the comment section!

—Amanda

 

in which we discuss the pressure to perform

As an English student, essay season always finds me suffering from stomach discomfort.

There is the sinking panic right before I hand in an essay,
and the queasy nausea right before I get back an essay.

I’m pretty sure we all know these sensations too well.
The fear of not having met the number grade expectations you’ve set for yourself, or bureaucratically required of you…

The university environment can be tough. We are all familiar with the study grind, the seemingly lost cause of staying on top of our work, and the collective experience of late nights and cram sessions at various locations all over campus. Coupled with the anxiety that peaks every time midterms or essays or finals come around, it is remarkably easy to lose motivation and interest in the learning we have come for.

In a setting where achievement is so heavily emphasized, how are we to deal with the pressure to perform?

Firstly, remember that a GPA is not an indicator of your abilities.

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deep truth we should all internalize.

We each possess a different combination of skills and talents, and these are not all quantifiable in the same way.Extra-curricular involvement showed me a whole set of skills I did not know I possessed that marks would not have highlighted.

Recognize your strengths and your weaknesses.
A healthy dose of self-knowledge helps combat the self-doubt in times of high pressure.

Practically speaking though…our GPAs do impact us in school.
So what then? 

Keep sight of your greater trajectory of learning.

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the stairway of learning….sometimes takes me back into bed.

Learning takes time. Learning takes effort. Learning takes practice.
Building on past effort is much more important and practical than any isolated attempt at success.

Every year, my only game plan is to raise my marks per essay, per class with each try. If I successfully do that, I’ve learned a little more. I read the comments of each essay I get back, take note of what is being critiqued, and carry that with me into all the other essays I write after that.
Each class requires slight adjustments, and so does each term, each year.

Taking a more holistic look at your overall academic achievement helps you be more pragmatic and clear about setting personal goals.

Set those goals.

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start simple. don’t be too ambitious.

  • Write goals down on post-its.
  • Remind yourself of said goals.
  • Attempt those goals.
  • Celebrate successes.
  • Throw get-over-failure parties.
  • Consult others for help: Professors, T.A.s, Alumni, Peers, Writing Centers, Libraries.

Through the process of goal-setting and goal-attempting, I guarantee that you will learn something. You may learn how to approach academia better, how skilled exactly you are at procrastination, how much you can cram into an hour, or just how hard some things are for you.

Whatever it is, you will be in a better place for having tried, than not having tried at all.

Lastly, wake up every day, look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you are awesome….and that in a few weeks it will be Christmas break.

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um guys i have no fingers… some help here?

In which we talk about how failure is okay

In first year I arrived at Victoria College, determined to study Classics and Literature, and get into Concurrent Education to become a teacher. Enrolled in the Vic One Frye (Humanities) stream, I was thrown headlong into exactly what I had asked for.

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Vic really could be the backdrop for any number of novels

I encountered the greats in my Intro English classes, hungrily read my Classical Mythology textbook cover-to-cover and enrolled in PSY100.

Soon, however, I discovered that what I had asked for was not what I wanted.

I often felt disengaged and unable to contribute due to a serious lack of knowledge. My essay marks were sub-par, my class participation trivial and I felt on edge all the time.

I remember the exact moment in a seminar when I thought to myself,
“I don’t understand or care about any of this! What am I doing here?”

Furthermore, my international status meant uncomfortable get-to-know-you conversations with classmates. My general knowledge, interests and lifestyle were so different that every conversation only highlighted this difference.

I hated how I sounded in my head:
“Well where I’m from…” or “I listen to so and so, no you don’t know?”
“Yes. Where I’m from we all speak English.” “No, Singapore is not in Japan, or a part of China. It’s its own country. But I live in Hong Kong now.”IMG_1679Hong Kong is 12 hours forward in time zone.

Somewhere in the middle of it all, I panicked.

Did I make the wrong decision to fly thousands of miles to this city to study something I couldn’t see myself in, with peers I couldn’t communicate with?

I crashed my way through that year.
I read, I wrote and I hoped.

When the time came to pick subject POSts, I applied for English and compulsively opted for an East Asian Studies minor instead of Classics.
I was accepted into the Con-Ed program, thereby sealing my academic timeline for the next four years.

Try again, Jasmine.

Second year I diversified my literature classes and began East Asian Studies. I sat in class, reluctant to participate, just absorbing. From ailing essays to coherent presentations and everything in between, I had them all.

Third year I scrutinized my learning experiences, and began agreeing and disagreeing with lecture points. My learning curve settled from crazy spikes and dips into a gentler slope. I worked my thoughts into papers, and made friends in and out of class.

Fourth year I disagreed with a professor in class and sought him during office hours to continue the discussion. I became more sure-footed in my knowledge, and more ambitious in my writing.

I went to OISE for a professional semester and did my seven-week teaching practicum.

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Manipulate time? All in a day’s work.

At the end of last year, I decided I‘d complete my degrees, but also admitted that I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore.

Four years later, it feels like I’ve come full circle: what I asked for is not what I want.

People often ask me, “Isn’t it a waste? Why close those career doors, Jasmine? You worked so hard for so long.  The implications of changing are more serious now than in first year.”

No it is not a waste.
I have hated and loved my experiences.
I have developed close friendships with all kinds of people.
I have nurtured a deep love for the Arts and Humanities and will pursue them.

More importantly, I go through each year strongly aware of how far I’ve come, because I keep that first year close to me.
I have discovered more about what I can achieve and how to persevere.

Failure teaches us these things more succinctly than success ever will.

If you feel like your decisions or lack thereof have dug you into a hole you can’t see out of, take heart.

It is okay to drop what is not working for you.
It is okay to persevere at what seems to keep beating you down.

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What To Do, What To Do . . . Events at U of T

I had to return to Cambridge this weekend to help my dad bring in and stack firewood. It’s a yearly chore and it’s fine, because I love woodstove fires in the winter when I visit home. So I left on Thursday, which means I missed a few events at U of T that I would have otherwise gladly attended. (#eventsUofT what events are you planning to attend?)

UofTevents

The thing about events at U of T, and events in my life more broadly, is that they have the habit of falling on the same day. I cannot count the number of times that for weeks I have no real plans, and then all at once I am invited to four different events, all of which are happening on Saturday!

But I can’t really get upset. It’s just one of those little oddities of life! Instead, I have to make a choice. I have to decide what is most important.

One of the events that conspired against me this week was Field to Fork, a festival for locally farmed food prepared by campus Chefs and accompanied by live musicians!

Source:http://ueat.utoronto.ca/event/field-fork-2013/

Source:http://ueat.utoronto.ca/event/field-fork-2013/

From what I heard, they were serving a variety of entrees and desserts, and each plate was $3—for 10 bucks you were more than full! The food enthusiasts at Ueat are responsible for this awesome festival. I wish I had been there. I bet it was delicious, and nutritious!

The second event was the opening of Victoria College’s annual Book Sale, also on Thursday. Luckily, the book sale continues until Tuesday Sept. 24, but the first day is always the most fun and exciting!

Source: http://holygrailofgifs.tumblr.com

Source: http://holygrailofgifs.tumblr.com

I was fortunate enough to get a preview of the Book Sale this year, and the team of volunteers have done a great job organizing and arranging hundreds, if not thousands, of donated books. It’s really quite a feat when you think of it, and I tip my hat to them.

Source: http://library.vicu.utoronto.ca/friends/blog/

Source: http://library.vicu.utoronto.ca/friends/blog/

The event offers two floors of books in the Old Vic building, with a special room for older, rarer, collector’s books and antiques. Also, for the first time they are offering a selection of vinyl records!

On the first day, there was a $3 admission fee, except for TCard holders, who got in free. For the rest of the weekend the event is open to everyone! The books are priced separately, ranging from $1 to over $300 for the really old ones.

Source: http://propaganda-for-life.tumblr.com/post/14742424350/lol

Source: http://propaganda-for-life.tumblr.com/post/14742424350/lol

All the proceeds go to Victoria College Library and help pay for bursaries. I’ll be back this weekend sometime, so maybe I’ll see you there!

First, I have to stack firewood. I decided that helping my dad was the most important event on my map this week.

In second year, The Toronto Spec-Fic Colloquium was hosted at Hart House on the same Saturday as a friend’s Halloween party. I decided it was more important to go to the colloquium than to have “early drinks” with my friends, and now I work for a publishing house because of the connections that I made at the event.

There is a lot to do at U of T, and a lot you may miss. But don’t beat yourself up. Most things happen every year. Do what feels right, and do what feels important to you.

 

Stay diamond, U of T

-Stephen

 

Oh, here are some upcoming events!

Trinity College Book Sale

University College Book Sale

Word on the Street Toronto

The Inner GPS

It’s August 21st today, which means that in a few weeks, I’ll be sitting in class again, shifting gears from summer to September, from full-time work to full-time school. Where did my summer go??

Ah, change. The thing that both scares and exhilarates me at the same time.

Over the years people, places, and events in my life have helped me cobble together random pieces of advice that help me navigate change and transition in my day-to-day.

I picture this concoction as a patchy pouch of sorts, filled with ideas and tips in the shape of colourful scarves that I draw out when I need to. I thought I’d share some of these with you, U of T. It’s a bit of a hectic world out there, so here are a few things that have allowed me to get back on track and keep my balance.

Getting to know people – all kinds of people. We live in a city with folks who boast origins from all over the world. And who are doing so many cool things every day. This is truly a gem. When I got back from living abroad in Spain, I realized what a treasure it is to be able to immerse myself in these different strokes. Other cities hunger for the sheer openness that we can create here.

So, after getting used toToronto again, I decided that I would just go ahead and strike up conversations with people who I felt were open to saying hello back. It worked! And whole worlds opened up. In a good way.

Paying close attention to the things that draw me in– or what I gravitate to naturally, as I go about work and life. I find that I have a lot of different interests – I’m sure you do too. A while back, I read a quote by Rumi that goes something like this:

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”

It’s one of my favourites.

Where to? http://mrspal.org/files/2012/03/dr.-seuss-here-to-there-195t75v.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening to that inner GPS. Ah, the hard part. Sometimes the cacophony of this world is overwhelming. Things to do, jobs to work, people to see, assignments to submit, and other people’s dreams and wishes which sound so great that I want to live them too.

When I feel as though my head is full of signposts which all seem to lead to great places, I try to sit rather silently and listen to what I really feel is the best for me. It’s not always what I want to hear, either – but hey, your inner GPS is pretty accurate. Most of the time :).

Precious Wisdom from The Gos. Source: http://www.peasandcrayons.com/2012/02/and-now-message-from-ryan.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there you have it, a few things that keep me going. And of course, the regular – enough food, sleep, and meaningful work to keep life rolling. T-18 days till school, U of T. Be yourself, heed your inner GPS, and make your year wonderful!

-Aziza

A Part Time Job: Pros and Cons

Last Saturday I went to Hart House to work on a cover letter. A haven for the studious and the sleepy. When I discovered Hart House library in the second week of first year, I knew I was home. (#startUofT Have you ever slept in Hart House?)

Anyway, come September I will no longer be a groundsman at Victoria College. Yep, all things come to an end. But then new things come along, too. At least when I look in the mirror I won’t see this guy anymore:

Source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/mrs.%20norris?language=tr_TR

Now, once again, I must enter the proverbial job hunt!

In first year I was fortunate enough not to need a job. Oh, those were the days! But come second year I was in a much different boat. It was an uncertain decision whether to work while in school. What if a job affects my grades? What if I like the job, get promoted and start making real money, then what’s the point of university?

So I weighed the pros and cons. I made a list. Like this:

Pro: Pocket Money

I am always hungry. If I have gained one thing, definitively, since coming to university it is an insatiable hunger. I’ll eat anything!

Source: http://www.reactiongifs.com/tag/hungry/

Having a few extra dollars in my wallet can be a blessing. When I’m studying on campus and my stomach starts to whine and complain, I can quickly pop out for a slice of pizza. When I’m writing an essay and too busy to cook dinner, I can order Chinese food. A few extra dollars often means a few extra minutes, a convenience that money literarily can buy.

Con: Time Commitment

Unfortunately, the equation works both ways. To get that pocket money you have to exchange your free time. This point should not be overlooked. In first year I was unemployed because fitting a job into my schedule was impossible.

Source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/busy-gif

For some of you the idea of even fitting in social time seems impossible. It’s a matter of priorities. I got a job because I had to pay rent. What do you have to do?

Pro: Time Management

I worked as a waiter in second year, mostly evenings and weekends. And I found having a job actually improved my time management. If I had a paper due on Thursday, but I worked Wednesday night, then I was forced to write the paper on Tuesday. There were a few assignments left to the last minute, to be sure. But most of the time I completed things early. I had to.

Con: Terrible Bosses

Not really. But I have come across a lot of job postings from people who seem more than willing to take advantage of eager, hard-working (starving) students. It’s a matter of discretion. It took me a while, but I now know what my time’s worth, and I won’t commit to a job that’s wasting it.

Pro: 

Source: http://www.1to1media.com/weblog/experience%20leaders.jpg

The #1 asset that employers want is experience. I doubt we even need names anymore, just a list of our previous jobs and internships. Who remembers names anyway? Employers remember only that this applicant has two years of related experience, while this other person has five. The cover letter that I wrote at Hart House was just a jazzed up list of my experience. But I realize now that all my part-time jobs have been investments, even if they were unrelated to my career. All work is experience:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNXwKGZHmDc

Also, if cover letters and resumes make you anxious or confused, I’d recommend INI300H1 Strategic Writing, it really it helped! Also, there is the U of T Career Centre!

‘Til next time U of T. Stay Diamond!

 

-Stephen

Once upon a time…

Once upon a time there was a girl who couldn’t decide what she wanted to be when she grew up. As she got older, she felt compelled to enroll in a post-secondary institution for no reason other than: everyone else her age was doing it.

She tried to find her way, attempted to find a program of study that fit her interests, but alas she could not. After three years of wasted tuition she gave up, resigned to the fact that she was not one of those people for which post-secondary education fit.

She carried on with her life, found a job in an office, worked her way up at a company from reception to accounting. One day she stumbled upon the University of Toronto’s website. She decided immediately that she would try again to finish her education.

She went back to school that year. She was older than all of the other students and for the first few months she felt as though she might be found out at any time. Soon she came to understand that her age didn’t put her at a disadvantage.

She studied hard, went to her classes, and soon she was nearly finished her degree, but in the course of the years she was at the university, she met many young students who, like her nearly twenty years before, were lost. She struggled with the urge to impart the wisdom she had gained from her experiences and the urge to not sound condescending.

She wished with all her heart that all of those younger students struggling with feelings of indecision and fear of the future could know that it’s okay to be lost…not everyone knows the path they will travel  when they are twenty years old.

Some of us take a straight path towards our future. For others, like me, the path wound and curved. My journey has taught me that conformity is not how I learn. I cannot be twenty years old again. I cannot pretend to write a paper or answer a question as though I bring only the knowledge of high school with me into the classroom.

I incorporate who I am and what I’ve experienced into all my learning. Even if you are twenty you can do this too. You may not realize it, but your experiences matter and they contribute to your perspective. You must own them.

If university is about finding your voice, you can’t ignore any part of what makes you, you. Embrace it all the good, the bad, and the ugly and make it your own. For me learning is about polishing all the parts of what make me the person I am. Unlike, what some people may think, coming back to school hasn’t changed me…it’s helped me to remember who I am.

-Lori

Study and SAIL Abroad!

Last week, Lori posed the question: ‘to be or not to be…in summer school’.

Last summer, I ended exams early and had about five months of summer. Sounds like the dream situation for many, but after the first two weeks I was sick of the endless routine of eating, sleeping, and then doing nothing… without consequences. By the end of it I just wanted to go back to school already! I spent the majority of summer working a desk job and although I was gaining valuable work experience, I never got to spend time soaking up the sun or much of anything else either.

So to answer the question: to be or not to be in summer school? I chose the best of both worlds and decided to study abroad! In fact, it’s something that I have been considering since way before I even applied to university. Apart from immigrating to Canada several years ago and making a few trips to Disney World and Cuba once or twice, I have never left North American borders. Plus, going to theme parks and resorts hardly count as travelling and experiencing the diversity and culture of the countries firsthand.

U of T offers a summer abroad program sponsored by Woodsworth college. I received a tempting brochure in the mail earlier in the semester and could not make up my mind between all of the amazing countries where study abroad was offered! I looked throughout the site and imagined myself in each of the different countries. The great part is that the courses transfer for U of T credit. However, only certain courses are offered in each country, and when I realized that, it looked like my dreams of studying abroad this summer were far out of reach.

At that point, I received a letter in the mail that I was admitted to sail on the Summer 2011 voyage of Semester at Sea hosted by the University of Virginia. While I was wishing I was somewhere else, I applied to the program one day at work. I convinced myself to apply through wishful thinking, not thinking that I would actually get accepted!

If you’ve never heard of Semester at Sea, it is basically a campus on a big cruise ship called the MV Explorer. You take classes on the boat as it sails the oceans and makes stops in several different countries. I have always dreamed of doing something like this ever since the days of watching Breaker High on YTV when I was younger. If you have no idea what Breaker High is, they no longer air it so instead, think of Family channel’s Suite Life on Deck with Zack and Cody.

All blast-from-the-past pop culture references aside, this trip is actually for real. Students do have the opportunity to study and sail on a boat. In order to make it a reality, I had to somehow find a way to pay for tuition, board and lodging, flights, hotels, traveling and spending money! So I put in my deposit, applied for every scholarship I was eligible for and crossed my fingers. I was fortunate to receive the Diversity Abroad scholarship and will be meeting with the other scholars to discuss our encounters with diversity on the ship and abroad. The trip is mostly full of American students and with only a few Canadian students on board, I am proudly representing our campus aboard the MV Explorer.

The summer voyage is 66 days long and travels across the Atlantic ocean, making stops at the following port cities and countries:

  • Nassau, Bahamas
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Naples / Civitavecchia, Italy
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Piraeus (Athens), Greece
  • Varna, Bulgaria
  • Istanbul, Turkey,
  • Casablanca, Morocco
  • Boston, MA USA

I will be taking courses in Global Studies, Art History and Social Sciences. There are so many courses to choose from – psychology, to biology, writing, music, and business. Si ! Oui! there are even language courses in French and Spanish for beginners.

Even with the scholarship, I know it is super expensive and I will probably be spending years and years paying it off, but it is truly the experience of a lifetime. In fact, the thing that had me sold was the field trips and global campus experience. How many people are able to say that they’ve studied on a floating campus?

Several field trips are offered by the Institute for Shipboard Education and among them are authentic experiences with diversity that you would not easily be able to do on your own. For example, they offer opportunities to have service visits in orphanages, community projects, dinner with an Italian family, and opportunities to experience culture firsthand.

So not only is it an opportunity to study abroad, but I will also be able to do service abroad. Many people take trips to do service abroad and choose to do so in favour of study abroad or summer school. The fact that I will be able to combine study, service, sailing and travelling all in one is the perfect combination for what I was looking to do this summer. The experiences I will have in all eight countries are valuable life lessons in themselves.

Studying abroad takes a lot of advanced planning, sacrifices and commitment, but I really think that in the end it is all worth it. So if it is something that you are looking into doing, I would research everything possible and plan ahead. Semester at Sea is not sponsored officially by U of T but it is still possible to get credit. At times, I felt like this trip would never happen for me but I stayed positive, looked into all possibilities and never gave up. This trip sprung up pretty late on me and it would not have been possible without the scholarship I received. Talk to your registrar if you are interested in studying abroad and they will definitely help point you in the right direction. You can also find out more about study abroad from the Centre for International Experience. As for me… now I’m just ready to plan, end exams, pack my bags, and get on that boat. I’m going to take advantage of every moment!

- Danielle

Preserving Chinese heritage through handicraft

As a child growing up in Hong Kong, I remember the heavy emphasis placed on doing well in academics by my teachers.

I remember being told that I had to do well, otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to get into a good high school, and if I couldn’t get into a good high school, how would I be able to get into a good university, and if I couldn’t get into university, what was I going to do with my life?

Let’s not get into how wrong that line of logic is for a second (there’s enough fodder for an entire rant right there), but I asked my friends, and they had similar experiences. I can’t say if this is what school is like now; I can only speak about my experiences more than a decade ago.

Ironically, my mother never really cared (she was more “practice piano!”, haha), but I remember going home with a heavy knapsack filled with math sets and rows of blank squares to practice my characters. That’s all there is to my memory of primary school in Hong Kong.

There wasn’t arts class, like I had when I was in Canada. I remember taking art classes outside of school, but I never picked up a paintbrush in class. I remember being completely confused on my first day of school because I didn’t have to start by doing problem sets or reciting text. I was even more baffled when there were two recesses and a lunch break (I was used to having lunch during my one break), and was completely flummoxed by the time we got to the end of the day and I was given glitter to paint with.

But I heard it wasn’t always like that. I heard from my aunts and uncles that when they were in China, school included a lot more arts and crafts. But with the increase in people competing for spots in universities, the arts and crafts were filtered out and replaced by academics.

Revitalizing this culture is what the Chinese Handicrafts Community at U of T set out to do. They’re a small group that was established last August with the purpose of cultural exchange.

“Young people don’t have the passion for culture and handiwork anymore,” says Kelly Zhong, the club’s president. “Handiwork is getting lost, and I want to protect and share our culture.”

And so using money out of their own pockets, Kelly and Alexandra Zhao, the club’s vice-president, bring back traditional supplies when they are in China for the club’s use.

“We want to create a space for cultural exchange,” said Alexandra. “A place where anyone who is interested in East Asian culture can experience it for themselves.”

The club does a variety of Chinese handicrafts. From cross-stitching (I remember doing this in kindergarten!) to paper cutting to making knots to cooking traditional Chinese food, the club tries to give its members a full taste of the rich Chinese heritage once or twice every month, the most recent being a workshop on cross-stitching.

I was curious to know where the club’s executive learned how to do the handicraft, and Kelly told me that a lot of this was self-taught, “We’re passionate about Chinese culture and handicraft, and so often, we would find books and videos to learn how to do a particular craft. The club’s spirit is more about the cultural exchange.”

But Kelly tells me that there are plans to invite relatives to come in to host workshops. Apart from imparting their knowledge, Kelly says it’s a great way for the elders to see how youth are still interested in the culture and history.

So, readers, if you didn’t do all your schooling in North America, what was your experience like? I’d love to hear about it.

- Cynthia