7 Days of Summer

September brings out all sorts of feels in the student body. If you’re like me, just the anticipation of the first week of September takes out way more energy than when I’m actually living it. The only thing that can take my mind off of the anxiety/excitement is trying to enjoy my last week of freedom.

Ah, August. You’re the Sunday night of summer; I hate that you’re here but at least I can use you to do the fun, summer things I promised myself I would do this time around. Let’s take a look at how I spent my last full week of August, shall we?

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Summer commutes and that half-eaten granola bar

So I’m taking summer classes. I love summer school because I don’t have to juggle 5 courses at the same time. The focus on one subject for two months instead of 5 in four months has always made more sense to me for some reason. This is an unpopular opinion but there are pros and cons to everything! There’s also not that many people on campus during the summer which means I always get the seat with the power outlet.

Not a lot of people want to spend the best weather to grace Toronto in months indoors but I actually end up spend more of it outdoors…waiting for my bus.

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Beating the Summer School Blues

Picture of a house and white picket fence in the summer

Steinbach, Manitoba from my road trip across Canada.

Summer. What a gloriously wonderful season! A season full of sunshine, street festivals, and memorable travel adventures. For students it is the season of rejuvenation after diligently working through two semesters of intense learning, a much deserved break. But there are a handful of brave souls, myself included, who venture into the summer season with no break in mind. Instead, these souls forge forward with dreams of triumph, fearlessly taking on the dreaded summer course (or courses)! These brave souls are known as the summer students.

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Of Citrus and Reflections

Hi there, UofT! I have a question for you.

Do you know how much a polar bear weighs?


Enough to break the ice.

it’s a good thing you can’t see my face right now. It’s so much easier to crack lame jokes from behind a screen.

Well, now that’s over and done with, like those cringey icebreaker games they’ll make you play during frosh week which you’ll remember for years to come, let me tell you a bit about myself:

My name is Emaan and I’m going to be one of your Life @ UofT bloggers this year!

hello world!

hello world!

I’m going into my second year studying International Relations. I love tacos and tea, Bollywood movies and fat novels and I often tell Starbucks baristas my name is Emma just so I don’t have to deal with the name-butchering on my cup.

Like 17% of U of T’s undergraduate student population, I, too, was brought up outside of Canada. I grew up in Karachi, which is the largest and most populous city of Pakistan, a sprawling metropolis that, much like Toronto, is chaotic, bustling and vibrant… but HOT.

Temperatures can sometimes go up to 40 degrees Celsius ( 113 degrees Fahrenheit) like they did this summer and when I tell people from Toronto this, I usually get the same reaction as when I tell people from back home that I survived temperatures of -40 degrees Celsius this winter. (‘Oh my God, how do you LIVE?!)

Luckily Toronto’s summer so far has been just right for me- not blisteringly hot but not biting cold either. For me, the warm days are the perfect time to sit back with a cool glass of mint lemonade and reflect on the time gone by.

my homemade mint lemonade!

my homemade mint lemonade!

This summer, I’ve been thinking a lot about my first year that I just finished at UofT.

Coming to Toronto for the first time and leaving behind everything familiar I’d ever known was one of the scariest decisions I’ve made so far and in the first few months completely on my own, I wondered several times if I’d made the wrong choice. During those early days, I remember mistakenly attempting to pay for an iced tea with a loonie and a TTC token, thinking Tim Horton’s was some kind of fancy store that everyone kept talking about and losing my TCard several times. I kept thinking on numerous occasions that perhaps I should have played it safe and chosen somewhere closer to home.

But as time went by and I started getting to know the campus and the city, making friends and enjoying my classes, I realized that I’d made the right decision after all. What I love about Toronto and U of T is that there is so much that you can do with your experience here. The giant size of our campus isn’t an obstacle- it’s a gift.

With over sixty-thousand of us here at UofT, there’s the possibility of making a new friend every day, learning from all sorts of different perspectives, and with all the events happening on around campus, you’re spoiled for choice.

There are luckily also countless resources at U of T to help international students adjust to life in Canada- the CIE, the Student Life Programs,the Writing Centre, the Career Centre, and even your college registrar is bound to check in from time to time to see how you’re doing!

Overall, I feel like the U of T experience has made me a lot more confident, sure of myself and independent. From time to time you might still find me gazing up in doe-eyed wonder at the buildings around me but for the most part, I think I’ve adjusted quite well and at the end of the day, I can say that I’ve truly had a great first year.

So that’s about as much reflection as I can get out of one glass of mint lemonade!

empty glass = sad emaan

empty glass = sad emaan

While I go refill, why don’t you tell me about your summer, U of T? What are you reflecting on?

(120) Days of Summer

A picture of me, painting a wall. The phrase "Hello, U of T!" was edited into the paint.Hi, I’m Nancy! I’m going to be one of your Life @ U of T bloggers for the year. I’m a fourth-year student studying Neuroscience and Immunology. I really like hummus. I spend an unhealthy amount of time scrolling through Beyonce’s Instagram account.





A mediocre drawing I made of a U of T landscape including Con Hall, the CN Tower, and the Medical Sciences Building, in the style of the movie (500) Days of Summer. The foreground contains three trees and the words "120 Days of Summer."

A mediocre drawing I made of a U of T landscape, in the style of the movie (500) Days of Summer.

Like in the movie (500) Days of Summer, this summer for me is having its fair share of both good days and bad days. The difference is that my version does not cast Joseph Gordon Levitt as a love interest, much to the deep regret of all my grade 10 fantasies.

Day (3)
Summer is finally here! I survived finals, my grades were pretty decent, and I am now rewarded with a chance to relax, sip sangria, and fully immerse myself in my favourite summertime shows (Game of Thrones, am I right?). Not a care in the world!

Day (14)
I realize the unusual nature of this summer – that period of time between “Wow I’m graduating next year and moving on to a new chapter!” and “Oh wait I still have no idea what I’m doing with my life.” Minor panic attack ensues. I then engage in a 3-hour procrasti-nap as a passive-aggressive way of avoiding my problems.

Day (27)
A heavier sense of worry creeps in when I catch up with friends and listen as they discuss their ambitious summer goals. Seriously, is everyone just super self-aware except me? Which psychic did you see that saw into your future? How much do they charge? Will they accept well-crafted playlists as payment? Because my wallet is apparently only capable of carrying 55 cents at a time.

Day (30)
MCAT review books arrive in the mail. A reality check was also delivered, free of charge. I begrudgingly start studying, divvying up my time between that, two part-time jobs, prepping for a volunteer trip to South America in August, and hunting for researchers who could supervise a potential thesis project.

Day (51) 
Scrambling to get my life together is both daunting and motivating in equal measure. But in my experience, being busy doesn’t necessarily mean you miss out on the fun stuff, especially if you are kept busy by things you want to be doing. If anything, being busy forces you to manage your time and use it more effectively. But still, I’m trying not to get too caught up and also focus on the present, channeling less Cameron Frye and more Ferris Bueller. Right down to that 80s sweater vest.

(Can you tell I’m a big fan of grand choreographed dances in movies?)

So that’s where I’m at. I’d love to hear how you guys are doing! What’s a typical summer day been like for you? Leave me a comment or send us a shout-out on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

Summer Brings Both Stresses and Smiles

Hello everyone, my name is Kevin. I am a fifth-year student studying Psychology and Cognitive Science. I also like to keep myself active, either by biking pretty much everywhere, or by pretending to be an athlete through intramural sports. This year, I will be one of your Life @ U of T bloggers!


With summer here, I get to start my last year of undergrad at a different pace. Right now, my academic pursuits have taken a bit of a break, as I’ve decided to work and not take summer classes. Last summer, I decided to work and take one and a half credits. That was far too stressful, and with my last year coming up the rest should be beneficial.

While this leaves me more time to myself, I still have to use my time wisely. I want to apply for graduate studies after I finish my undergrad, so I need to research what schools I can apply to, and if professors at that school would be working on research that converges with my interests. This process is a whole different challenge than applying for undergraduate studies, because I will likely have to get in direct contact with professors, and find out if the program is accepting applicants for the year. I’m also considering applying to schools in the United States, which requires me to take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), and I may have to start studying for that as well.

Another challenge comes from the fact that my job is tiring; I work at a day camp, and I have to be on my feet all day. I’m pretty tired when I return from work, and I have to push myself to complete tasks, such as researching grad schools, hunting for housing in the fall, and even menial tasks around my place.

Myself with a coffee.

Coffee, I still need your help!

On the bright side, it finally gives me a chance to explore Toronto. Because I’ve always been somewhat pressed for time, I’ve relegated myself to mostly downtown. One confession: I’ve never been to Toronto Island. Or the Scarborough Bluffs. Last month was the first time I even stepped into High Park, as well as the first time I’ve ever seen the Blue Jays play live. I can’t possibly see everything that there is around the city in a summer’s time, but I’ll have a chance to experience more than I ever have so far.

The summer also gives me an opportunity to hang out with friends coming back to the city from school. While many of them are working as well, it always seems like we have more time to hang out when work is done. And as a bonus, because I made most of those friends via work—I didn’t go to high school in Toronto—I still work with some of them, and that makes my job even easier, and fun as well.

This summer I plan to work, explore the city, work more, plan for graduate school applications, work, try to get rid of this farmer’s tan, work, complain that I don’t get to travel this summer, and more work. Oh boy, this is going to be a fun summer!

What are your plans for summer? Staying in school? Working? Traveling? Relaxing at your parents’ place not worrying about a thing? Share with us in the comments!

The Road Ahead: Planning for Post-Exam Life

“I can’t believe this year’s already over!” we all say to ourselves in disbelief. In just over a month (even sooner for some people) we’ll be done with exams and will be free for four months. Now I know many of you have likely started figuring out your summers already, since jobs, travel plans etc. are often best planned in advance. But, if you’re like me and have procrastinated on post-exam Life: Have no fear – Api is here!

I have compiled a list of my summer options, which are my alternatives to the summer endeavours that I should have (probably) started a few months ago…(I’m only human.)

Hopefully this will help me decide on what to do this summer, and will offer some inspiration to a world of procrastinators and beyond:

1. Employment: Okay to be clear, with jobs, EARLIER IS ALWAYS BETTER. But don’t fret my friends, because it is not too late! Many places around the city are still hiring and continue to hire into the summer. Places with high traffic in the summer (such as tourist destinations) tend to hire progressively throughout the summer as well, based on need. Realistically, it might not be exactly what you wanted, but if money is the motivation, then you have plenty of hope!

Special Tip: Check out the U of T Career Centre (aka my life and soul), either in person on online for job postings, resume building and more! A few other personal favourites for job postings include TalentEgg or Indeed.Ca!

Api in a blazer in an office setting

I Wear Blazers So Please Hire Me: A Student Saga.

2. Travel: Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of experience planning large trips abroad, so I know that’s likely out of the question for me this year. BUT did you know Ontario is kind of an amazing province? A weekend up north at Georgian Bay or a Toronto Staycation is exactly what I need this summer (and it won’t disrupt school, work or anything else I want to do!

Api sitting on rock formation overlooking a lake at Georgian Bay

Ontario, yours to discover!

3. Study: The schedule for the summer term came out fairly recently, and as always, there’s a wide array of courses being offered.  Ah, summer school. It may help you finish your course requirements faster, or let you take a more intensive course without the distraction of other classes. And it probably has many other perks for some! But alas, it is school. In the summer.

Photo of empty chairs at Hart House Library

One of the many summer term perks: EMPTIER LIBRARIES

Special Tip: If you’re taking 1.0 credits continuously from May-August, then you’re eligible for the summer work-study program! Yay for more employment options!

Bonus Suggestion: Binge-watch things. I’ve barely kept up with my TV shows this year. I think that justifies watching ALL of 2014/2015’s TV gold AT ONCE, right?

So that’s a little peek into my summer, folks! What is your summer looking like, U of T? If you have any tips for what I can explore for the next third of my year, let me know down in the comments!

Looking Ahead, and Choosing a Path

Dealing with your program can be stressful. Choosing your degree can be hardest. This question can be easy for some people, but asking yourself what degree you want can force you to ask bigger questions as well.  For me, choosing my degree was a long process and was transformational as well.

Looking our from a small ridge towards the dense foliage of Philosopher's Walk, with a gleaming tower in behind

In the forest of life, there are limitless numbers of pathways you can choose from (Photo by Zachary Biech)

At the beginning of my second year, I declared my Public Policy major after much deliberation with minors in Political Science and Philosophy. I also took a Russian Language credit and loved it. Long story short, philosophy wasn’t right for me and the Political Science minor was redundant. So what do you do when you realize you want to switch POSts?

Looking west towards Trinity College, with the foliage of Philosopher's walk in front and the stone citadels of the college poking through in behind under a bright blue sunny sky

U of T is a big place, with many different opportunities; finding the one best suited to you is a whole other story (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Don’t worry, it’s easy. For me, the Russian Language minor was a no-brainer and I had always known in my heart I should be in Aboriginal Studies once I had the courage. So I changed my minor POSts the summer after second year, took an ABS summer credit to catch up and voila! A personalized degree path suited to my interests.  You have to do what interests you or you’ll never get the most of your program. So think hard and ask those tough questions: Are you really doing what you love?

A single great tree on a large green lawn with red flowers at it's base, and sunlight shining through it's leaves

Sometimes in the forest of opportunity, one small piece can shine itself on you, and make your pathway clear (Photo by Zachary Biech)

So what about grad school? Wow, tough question. The earlier you start asking yourself, the better. And whatever you do, don’t lose hope. There are many reasons not to enter grad school but even more reasons to go for it.

A pathway of green grass winding through a partially lit, partially shadowed greenspace of shrubs and trees

What happens along this pathway? Well, there’s only one way to find out… (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Disclaimer: I am still undecided on where, when and what my further education will be. The how is always a tough question with no real answer. But the why? Well, here’s how I think of it: why not?

looking through an open iron gate, down a shaded cobblestone path with grand overhanging trees and bushes, towards the bright sunlight beyond

We may not know what’s at the end of the path, but the door is open, and it’s worth every step (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I have a few findings to share. ULife has a career mentorship program to get you connected with someone who can answer your questions. First Nations House has Aboriginal Law Mentorship services for undergrads interested in law school. The FNH staff can offer excellent guidance.


Law Mentorship Program: Are you considering law school? Join the Law Mentorship Program and get connected with a current Aboriginal U of T Law student mentor. You will learn about the law school experience and better understand the application process. Undergraduate contact: shannon.simpson@utoronto.ca Law student contact: promise.holmesskinner@utoronto.ca fnh.utoronto.ca

FNH Law Mentorship Program

Unfortunately, U of T has no graduate Aboriginal Studies program so if ABS is your direction, you may wish to look at other schools like Trent or York. However, Indigenous students in grad school at U of T still have the support of SAGE to keep connected.  Also, The Aboriginal Studies Department has a unique Collaborative Program in Aboriginal Health which is definitely worth exploring.



Now back to law. U of T’s law program is very interesting. There’s a welcoming pathway for Indigenous students, status or non-status, through the Aboriginal Law Program which can include a Certificate in Aboriginal Legal Studies. There’s a huge array of scholarships, bursaries, and grants, and the faculty began offering a free LSAT course for students with financial need in recent years.

A view of the front of Falconer Hall, with a trimmed lawn, large garden, and leafy vines covering the Victorian-style brick building

Falconer Hall, Faculty of Law (Photo by Zachary Biech)

The four large white pillars of the main entrance to Flavelle House

Flavelle House, Faculty of Law (Photo by Zachary Biech)







It may seem overwhelming early on but that’s all part of the process. All you need to know is there are many good options out there and many supports to help you achieve your goals.

A doorway into Falconer Hall, with aged stone facade with leafy vines draped on the top

The door is open; all’s you have to do is walk through it (Photo by Zachary Biech)

What different degrees have you considered?

Does the path you are on allow you to do what you love?


Summerlicious: The Student Edition

As University students, I think most of us could agree on three things;

  1. We like to save money
  2. We like to eat
  3. We don’t like to cook

Forms kind of an oxymoron doesn’t it? 

Last week I decided to explore a Toronto event that might be the cure to this seemingly improbable situation; Toronto’s 2014 Summerlicious.


Summerlicious is a city-wide program that offers delicious food at exceptional prices. Over 200 restaurants throughout the city of Toronto participate in the program by offering a unique menu for a fixed price. It’s an opportunity for people to explore restaurants outside their comfort, and price, range.

For me however, it was an excuse to try a new restaurant, and some yummy new food, all in the hopes of sharing it with you!

You can filter the map based on things such as  neighbourhood and price range. Click this map to check it out.

You can filter the map based on things such as neighbourhood and price range. Click this map to check it out.

There are well over 30 restaurants within walking distance of U of T, ranging in price and location. I decided to try out Insomnia Restaurant and Lounge at 563 Bloor St. W. 

Insomnia’s Summerlicious menu offered a 3 course dinner, including a starter, main, and dessert for $25, including taxes and gratuity.

I started off with a smoked chicken taco on a soft tortilla with avocado, chipotle aioli, and a mass of other delicious ingredients.


I thought I was already sufficiently full after just the starter, until I saw this delicious plate come through the restaurant. The insomnia burger is an Ontario grown beef patty with all the fixings, served with hands-down some of the best french fries I’ve had. (dipped in the garlic aioli I think I would have paid $25 just for a bucket of these!)


Luckily I had some friends around to help me with the final course, a pink velvet cake which is essentially a glorified excuse to eat about a pound of cream cheese icing. Regardless, it was delicious.

The ratio of cake to icing was about 2:1 (not that I'm complaining)

The ratio of cake to icing was about 2:1 (not that I’m complaining)

So while I walked out of the restaurant about 5 pounds heavier, my wallet wasn’t quite as light as if I had gone to Insomnia on a normal day. To get the exact same meal, including tax and gratuity, you would pay $36.39 – which means I saved around $11.

I think Summerlicious is a great way to get out in the city and explore some restaurants that are normally out of your comfort zone, or better yet out of your price range. Some restaurants even offer a 3 course $15 lunch! The event runs until the end of this week, so make sure to check it out – and share it with me on twitter if you do! I know that I already have a couple places I want to check out before it’s over, but how about you? Are there any restaurants participating in Summerlicious that you’re dying to try? Let me know in the comments below!