Progress

From last September until now, I’ve made progress.
I acknowledged my penchant for lying around, and I made solid goals to get myself moving. I also reached these goals and am currently in the process of reaching others. I completed two registered classes. I became a lover of both the plank and pirouette. I went to the gym and tried trampoline dodgeball. I took a few walks here and there in the good ol’city of Toronto. I was up for any challenge.

I took risks.
I became less self-conscious.
I’ve made progress.

From my first post to this very lost post, I made the leap from being inactive to active. And throughout my journey over the past eight months, I’ve learned that my body can do amazing things. I can jump, run, stretch, twirl, and lift. Becoming physically active helped me ease into the idea that it’s not about how I look, or what societal convention that I can fit into. It’s about what I can do and how I can move freely and be healthy.

There were some days when I admit I did nothing. But I also found a way to pick myself back up and get moving again. There were also days when I remembered that by being active, I will actually get more things done. I would go to a Pilates class, and then be able to focus on my studies. Productivity needs to come from some sort of activity in order to get the momentum going.

 

We made it. VIA FIREBONES.TUMBLR.COM

 

Now that this blog is ending for this semester, all I can say is that we are in the homestretch. It’s exam season, and we can conquer this! With essays/assignments and tests, it’s easy to just slip back to old habits. My books might be calling me to hole myself up in my room for days end, but I refuse to give up on my hard work. After all, being physically active isn’t a temporary goal, but a lifestyle.

Here’s what I’ll be doing for the remainder of exam season to keep my lifestyle goals in check:

1) For every half hour of studying, take a 5-10 minute break and stretch.
Keep that blood circulating!

2) Hit the gym twice a week, either before or after library visits.
Exercising is now officially the best friend of studying. It’s a win-win situation for conditioning both the mind and body.

3) Try a drop-in class one a week.
Since registered classes are finished, I plan to keep myself going by heading to the Athletic Centre and trying out a drop-in class that’s new to me each week. Adding spontaneity will help with my studying, as I will be able to break away from a monotonous routine of burying my head in the books during exam season.

4) Explore a bit of Toronto!
I need to refresh myself and get out of the campus bubble. I want to take advantage of the fact that the weather is now nice enough for average human being to not turn into an icicle. Therefore, I should start walking around the city again and go on adventure mode away from the campus.

5) Take a rest, and relax.
Treat yo’self. No explanation needed.

We all start off as beginners, but as time goes by, we change. As for me, I’m always looking for something new to try out—that’s the best habit I’ve developed this year.

 

A dance of celebration. VIA GIF-DATABASE.TUMBLR.COM



I’m getting the hang of this. I can totally do this.

Are you ready exam season?

-Amanda

Tardy to the Party (and everything else, too)

Months back, I wrote on the topic of perfectionism as a personality flaw and how it would be a painstakingly annoying (although undeniably accurate) answer to give at a job interview when given the prototypical “What is your greatest weakness?” prompt. I wasn’t being entirely honest. So here I am, about to expose one of my (debatably) biggest flaws that I definitely would not share in any given job interview that I actually wanted to get hired for (although the title of this post is kind of a dead giveaway)…

I am a very tardy person.

rabbit

Literally me, to about 86% of my daily obligations. (PC: tumblr.com)

In fact, the last few times I wasn’t late for something, it either involved free food (I’m not about to let that run out on me!), or was a work-related event (a job interview, a meeting, etc). Anything else – classes, a meet-up with friends, a date (yup), a SURPRISE PARTY (#WORST) – my ETA ranges from anywhere in between five minutes to three hours. The reasons vary. The unreliability of the TTC. Pressing the snooze button one (or seven…) too many times. Getting caught up with a Skype call from home. Yes, all excuses, all valid to a certain extent, but at a certain point I had to come to the realization that mishaps and setbacks are always bound to come up, and so maybe I should just start doing/leaving for things ahead of time.

At a certain point, we gotta accept that we are not royalty/Julie Andrews and therefore this is not applicable. (PC: myfairjulie.tumblr.com)

But I do understand how desperately annoying it is to feel like your time is wasted, or the awkward moments where you feel as though you’ve been stood up or forgotten about – I’ve been on the receiving end of tardiness too. The main problem I encounter with being able to be on-time is grossly overestimating the amount of time I had before I had to be somewhere or do something (sound familiar to anyone?). I was consistently an hour and fifteen minutes late to my two-hour 9AM lectures four weeks in a row. I made my friend late for another appointment they had later in the day. I risked not being considered for a job position because I turned in my application half an hour past its hard deadline. As a student, running the habit of being late is a very easy, very dangerous trap to fall into for the future when “I was finishing off a term paper due that afternoon” is no longer a socially acceptable excuse for lateness in the workforce.

The-Notebook-Now-Its-Too-Late-GIF

What’s the worse that could happen when you’re late to something? Missing out on spending 7 whole years with the love of your life doesn’t sound too great, if I’m being entirely honest. (PC: tumblr.com)

With that (and the unsettling fear of impending unemployment) in mind, I set out to change a stubborn, long-lived habit of mine. Here are some of the goals I’ve started to set, that perhaps you’ll find useful too -

  • Writing down where I need to be and what time I need to be there, and what I’ll need to be doing when I get there. I will do this on a CALENDAR, or anywhere I can get a linear sense of my tasks and responsibilities I have in real-time. I used to write things down in my Moleskine journal on the fly, and although I think it’s still a great way of staying on top of what I have to do, it doesn’t give me a very organized idea of how I should be managing my time the way a calendar does.
  • And, I will double-check to make sure I don’t have conflicts and that I’m writing down dates correctly, otherwise I could have everything off and realize all my deadlines and due dates and midterms are actually a day earlier than I originally thought (this has happened to a certain someone) (that someone was me).
  • Oversleeping happens! Sometimes our bodies just need the extra rest, especially at a time as busy and so far into the school year as March. I will make it a point to recognize my sleep patterns. For example, I know that if I sleep by 2AM, I’ll feel well-rested on five hours of sleep if I have to be up early the next morning. Anything past 3:30AM, however, and I’ll be out cold for at least eight hours before I feel physically ready to leave my bed.  I know my body well enough to plan my schedule around me feeling my optimal best when the alarm sounds off (also, I plan to set multiple alarms).
  • If I can get something done now, I’ll do it now. You never know what will come up in the future that will prevent you from doing whatever it is you think you’ll be able to do later on, at another time of convenience (now say that 4 times, really fast).
  • If I’m inevitably going to be late, for whatever emergency I run into (hey, you can’t account for everything that happens in life), at least have the consideration to tell the other person. I won’t do that thing where I say I’m just around the corner when we both know I haven’t even showered yet. The earlier I tell someone, the earlier they’ll be able to plan their own time and make arrangements. My time isn’t more valuable than theirs!

You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We all do it. DON’T DO IT. (PC: modelcity.tumblr.com)

Being late sucks. Not just for the others waiting on you, but you owe it to yourself not to feel hurried and rushed through life.

As always, U of T, until the next -
Katrina

Life Schedule Conflicts – the real deal.

This week I had planned to write about a conference I was really pumped to go to.

But when the weekend hit and I assessed the work I needed to do for the week to come, I realized that the conference (which would take up most of the day) was a no-go if I wanted to get all my work done. So sadly, I bid adieu to the conference and threw myself into the embrace of the library, its winter-worn students, their haggard postures and hot beverages.

I decided to reflect upon this moment of crisis, which I call a Life Schedule Conflict (LSC), because it’s a crisis we face over and over again throughout our time in university.

The rigorous academic schedule at UofT seems to show its cruelest face around this time of the year, particularly the weeks just before and after Reading Week. Trying to juggle a fine balance of school, relationships and healthy living is definitely an art form. In fact, these priorities often conflict with each other, and jostle for our attention and energy.

IMG_0323

Personal examples of LSC:
As an International student, it is not easy, trying to schedule times to Skype my family, and lately most of those efforts are prevented by my visits to the library.

Furthermore, as a soon-to-be-graduate, the relationships that sustain me span from university student to full-time working individuals, meaning that large study dates do not suffice for “social time” any more.

Even within academia itself, the layers of deadlines for different course assignments means that sometimes I have to forgo readings for classes, in order to get assignments done in others, compromising my in-class engagement, and setting myself back.

…and don’t get me started on laundry and dish piles…
oh ya. and my PT job. that too….

The point is, we are always dealing with LSCs. There are many different parts of our lives that operate at the same time and sometimes we are forced to make choices.

Over the years, I’ve learned that it is not necessarily that difficult to begin the process of facing LSCs.

First, decide on your priorities.

IMG_0325

What is most important at this moment?
What am I most able to do right now?
What can I change or cannot change?

Ordering the tasks we have to execute, whether it be by urgency, by manageability or by functionality means we are actively thinking about the situation. These questions offer clarity into the state of our situation, and give us a chance to sort through the growing to-do lists and file our stress into a more manageable order.

Next, figure out an action plan.

IMG_0328

What should I do first?
Set a deadline – try to finish each task by its given time.

I usually post-it my daily tasks, and tick them off as they are completed. This gives me encouragement when I’m tired, and prevents panic attacks when I start thinking about the work I have to do and sink into a paralysis at the overwhelming number of thoughts that surface…. …

Lastly, constantly redo the aforementioned actions.

Assess your results at the end of the day, and reshuffle your schedule the next day.
You shouldn’t feel the need to stick to a schedule or a list that you created yesterday because your body, your mind and your mood are in a different place today. Paying attention to where you are, helps you to know what you can do, and how you might go about doing it.

IMG_0324

Above all, there is hope!
Reading week is (almost) here!
If there ever was an occasion for #joyatUofT, this would be it.

 

Getting Back To Business

Last week was all about settling in to the new semester. This week, it’s all about bringing my game back. Now is the time to juggle school, extra-curriculars, and physical activity.
Being active during the holidays was admittedly easier. However, this semester with three new half courses added to my previous load, I need to start planning out when I going to exercise.

Trust me. VIA GIFS-FOR-THE-MASSES.TUMBLR.COM

During first semester, I would exercise on whim, but would still schedule in a registered class, like Pilates. Yet I’ve made a pact to crank up intensity when challenging myself. I know that organizing and planning workouts are the next step to achieving my new goals. Of course, I love being spontaneous like any other student at this university (does anyone consider 2:00AM food runs a normal way to bond with their friends now?). But when it comes to getting back on track, structure is crucial to realizing my goals. Over the past few days, I reviewed my schedule to see what exercise plan I can realistically commit to now that life is just getting busy again.

Monday
Ah, the start of the week. The overall beginning. Monday.
I only have two classes. My last one ends at 4PM. I don’t know about you, but whatever happens on the first day of the week seems to set the tone for the days that follow. So from now on, I am going to aim to make Monday a gym day, when I go to Hart House and use the elliptical and other machines and do not care about working out in front of peers and strangers. By starting the week with going to the gym, I hope that it sets a positive “you can do it!” type of attitude when trying to exercise on the other days.

Speaking of starting off with exercise, today is the first day to start on building the MoveU Passport that goes into your Co-Curricular Record! If you want to sign up, just bring your T-Card to the Athletic Centre main office, and from there you can get on going with attending free drop-in exercise classes and social activities on campus. For more information, check out the facebook event page for the program. Don’t forget to #tryitUofT.

Tuesday
Tuesdays are two-class days as well. However, I finish at 3PM Since I’ve picked up a heavy course load with dense readings, I will devote Tuesdays to one registered exercise class so that I can head on out to the library afterwards. I`ve got my eye on a Judo class-stay tuned!

Wednesday
I’m scared about Wednesdays. They are eight-hour class days this term. My last class ends at 6PM, so I still have the evening and night to myself, but I don’t want to end it by collapsing onto my bed.  Since hump days are stress-ridden days, then this shall be a day devoted to relaxation. I will unleash my stress by dancing in my room, doing yoga, or Pilates, and any stretching that will calm me down. How else will I keep up with my planking?

Thursday
Thursday is yet another two-class day. However, I plan to make this a rest day. I will recharge and not panic over whether I should go to the gym or not because Queens Park is too icy to cross through. I think it will be much needed. Of course, just because I’m not going to the gym, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to be huddled up in my bed on a TV-watching marathon. I’ll nonetheless do my best to keep active during my “free” day.

Friday
Fridays are slack days! It’s the end of the week, and I’m practically free, except for one class that ends at 11:00AM. I plan to make this not only a gym day, but a day centred on walking all over campus. I don’t want to just leave my relaxation to the confines of my room and planking—I want to be able to calm down in a public setting as well while taking in the sights and exploring hidden gems around U of T. Most recently, I’ve wanted to get acquainted with Hart House. It’s more than just using it as a place for going to the gym. I’m planning to check out live shows playing at the theatre there—as inspired by fellow blogger, Stephen’s post on theatre-going.

THE WEEKEND!

 

The past. I think. VIA GIFRIFIC.COM

 

Saturday
Freedom at last? Only temporarily. Depending on my workload and what’s due the week after, I will devote my weekends to either exercising or doing homework. After all, with no academic classes, why not take advantage of drop-in classes? Last semester, I was able to do a few drop-in cycling classes that my friend taught, and I plan to do the same for this time around as well.

Sunday
As for Sunday… well that’s a different story. Even though it’s the last day of the weekend, I think it’s best to admit that Sundays are truly Mondays. The pangs of guilt for procrastinating on readings all? And then spending all day catching up? Grudgingly completing rudimental chores? Worrying about the tests and assignments due in the upcoming week? For all of that, I’m leaving Sundays as a day for spontaneity. I could make time to hang out with my friends, go shopping, read a book outside of the curriculum, discover a parkette, and more!

I mean, I’m a university student after all; I still need some rebellion from my daily schedule.

So with all this fussing over trying to be organized how I’ll fit in my exercise, I could use some helpful hints. Tell me readers, how do you squeeze in staying active!

New Year, New Resolutions.

It’s 2014. Second semester has already started and I’m still trying to settle in. Along with my two full-year courses, I’ve got three new half-year courses, so my schedule has completely changed. And speaking of change, my schedule isn’t the only thing getting an overhaul. My goals have changed too. I know, it’s typical for everyone to make a few resolutions at the beginning of the year, and also to drop them after a few weeks, but this year I’m a little more hopeful.

My reaction to every new years resolution making before 2014. – VIA BILLBOARD.TUMBLR.COM

During the holidays, I took some time to reflect on my last semester and my attempts to establish a healthier lifestyle. I made a jumpstart on my aspiration to make a total 180 by getting out there and being active.I signed up for a Pilates class at the Athletic Centre. I made a pact to go to the gym at least once a week, and conquered the ever-so-despised plank. That was only the beginning. With the new year, I’ve come prepared with new, yet realistic, goals that I hope to achieve by the end of the semester. My goals for 2014 are as follows:

1) Try out a new exercise class.
With the second semester starting and all, I’ve been a bit inspired by the #tryitUofT campaign celebrating January as the month to get into new clubs and events. When it comes to exercise, I am craving a new approach. I’ve always stuck to slow, relaxation exercises, like yoga and Pilates. I think it’s now time to try something new. Now that doesn’t mean that I will quit Pilates— I mean, that whole semester spent doing planks wasn’t all for naught. I plan to keep up my relaxation exercises, along with my crazy dancing when I’m in my dorm, and in the gym.

I’ve been looking into martial arts, to even quirky classes like archery. Oh the many options that Hart House and the Athletic Centre at U of T has to offer!

2) Eat healthier
First semester was all about getting off my butt and moving my body. Second semester is still going to be about that, but it will also be about finding balance with the meals that nourish and energize my body. This is especially important after workouts, when I need my muscles to recover. I’ve realized how important eating healthy is; I find it affects my stamina when I have to move around all day. If I want to achieve my new goals, I need to start treating myself better.

Most of all, I don’t want to have a mid-day slump. I want to be able to be energized going into the gym and relaxed going out of it.

For inspiration, I took a look at fellow Student Life, and Health & Wellness, blogger Gloria’s post on mindful eating.

3) Go to the gym three times a week
Last semester was all about getting rid of the fear of going to the gym alone and exercising in public, and honestly, even though there are some days when I find myself slipping back to those thoughts, I’ve never once regretted going to the gym. Now it’s time to bump it up from going to the gym casually to making my commitment official.

4) No More Sleeping In
Oh my, sleep is a wonderful thing. Sleeping in is even better. But it’s a time-costing luxury that gets in the way of doing my work, and being an active person. Just like eating healthy, sleeping well is another goal that isn’t directly connected to being more active, but plays a huge role in the quality of exercise I get. So I want to be able to get to sleep earlier, and wake up earlier. I don’t want to go to the gym in the evenings, but instead, I want to start off my day by going to the gym first! That old expression, “you snooze, you lose” has never been this relevant!

What I used to think about sleeping. – VIA THETEENAGEGENTLEMAN.TUMBLR.COM

So far, these are my “healthy” goals for this semester.

Care to share your resolutions for 2014?

The Jolly Season of Midterms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Were All Beginners Once

Hello, dear reader. My name is Amanda, and I’m your MoveU blogger for the school year! To break the ice, here are three points about me:

- I’m a second-year student at U of T.
- I love to read, write, and consider myself a film and TV aficionado.
- I’m a beginner when it comes to being healthy.

This is me 24/7

I know what you’re thinking about the last point: my validity as a MoveU blogger must be questionable since I’m currently inactive. I mean, I do understand that; as someone who thinks that tossing and turning my pillows counts as a physical activity, I’m wondering how I got to be a blogger for MoveU too. But I guess that’s the point—I’m not starting this blog with my whole exercise regimen (or lack thereof) already down pat. This blog is about how I am going to take a total 180 turn in my life.

I don’t want to start off with big, extravagant, and lofty goals, but I don’t want to be vague either. So my main goal is to go from a sedentary to an active lifestyle. I hope to conquer that by experimenting with new activities (archery, anyone?), become confident with the way I look, beat the fear of going to the gym, and to become more productive instead of lounging around in my pajamas during a TV marathon. I want to be able to say, “Hey, my body can do amazing things!” and I want to walk tall and proud with my accomplishments over my shoulder. Most of all, I just don’t want to be lazy anymore; I miss those days when I was a kid running on an endless supply of energy and I plan on getting back to that mode.

However, I keep on having the same goals every year, and seldom do I follow through. Yet, with the blog going on, I’m positive that this year is going to be a change for me. So if you’re along for the run (not drive, because this blog is about physical activity), then feel free to join along on this journey. Why do this alone when you can have support, right?

via

Teamwork.

I’m serious though, no rides will be taken.

 

-Amanda

And So It Begins!

Well, the first week has been off to a good start, albeit a little bit hectic. (#firstdaystories How was your week?) It’s funny how things turn out, really.

Here’s what happened to me:

hotdayrun

I have one course this semester. I often feel reluctant to tell people this, because usually they scowl and say they hate me. But that is just how my university career has worked out, and I’ll be honest—it’s pretty sweet. I feel a little like this guy:

source:http://l-o-t-r.tumblr.com/post/44019175865/why-is-this-page-so-awesome-its-now-my-go-to-for-epic

source:http://l-o-t-r.tumblr.com/post/44019175865/why-is-this-page-so-awesome-its-now-my-go-to-for-epic

Or, at least, I want to feel like that guy. The class is one night a week, two hours, mostly reading—easy!

It was on Wednesday, which happened to be the same day as my Life @ U of T Community Crew meeting. The meeting was at 4 pm, and the class was at 6 pm, so it was fine.

I decided to use my morning wisely. I did laundry. Oh, the joys of living independently!

source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/home-alone-gif

source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/home-alone-gif

The laundromat is close to my house, so I can go home between cycles. It takes six trips altogether to finally clean my clothes. While I’m waiting around at home I usually read, or watch a bit of a movie, visit the internets, or, as I decided to do on this particular day, I work out.

Why did I choose the hottest day in September to start a healthy exercise routine?

source:http://a-gif-for-you.tumblr.com/post/25312355771/when-people-ask-you-what-day-it-is-during-summer

source:http://a-gif-for-you.tumblr.com/post/25312355771/when-people-ask-you-what-day-it-is-during-summer

But once I was good and exhausted and thoroughly drenched in sweat, I threw on a quick set of clothes, and ran out to grab my laundry. It was 3 pm. When I got home I was going to shower, change (into clean clothes), grab my books, my bag, and head off to my meeting, and then my class. I was feeling exactly like this guy:

source:http://www.reactiongifs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/clintnod.gif

source:http://www.reactiongifs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/clintnod.gif

And that’s when everything went ridiculously wrong! I had forgotten my keys!

There I was, stranded outside my apartment, burning up in the 40-degree heat, sweating buckets, underdressed, no books, no bag, holding a huge sack full of shirts, shorts, socks, and underwear, and time was ticking!

Luckily, I had my wallet and my cell-phone. But, of course, it was starting to thunderstorm! I really had no choice. It was almost 4 pm. I had to go!

I took the subway to St. George station (blessed TTC!). Along the way, I realized I had forgotten to find out where I my class was being held. Also, the room had been changed for my Life @ U of T meeting, so I really had no idea where I was going.

Find a computer, public access Internet! So where did I go—Robarts! I looked up the building code and room number for my class, and found the new location for my meeting. Then I hit the washroom, rinsed my face, and changed into a clean shirt. Turns out laundry is pretty useful to carry around.

source:http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/will-ferrell-gif

source:http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/will-ferrell-gif

Well, not that good, but I was feeling better. I went to my meeting, met some new people, ate a Timbit or two, and then hurried through the rain to my class.

And my class was great!

It was introductory, but the readings sounded new and intriguing, and the professor was very enthusiastic, which is of paramount importance for evening classes!

In the end, it was a good first day. Unexpectedly hectic, but good for just that reason. It was a jumpstart back into managing my university career. At times things can be chaotic and uncertain. There will certainly be surprises. But that’s life, really. Who knows what will happen? I’ll do what I have to do, and hopefully in April I’ll feel like this guy:

source:http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m039l83fru1qm135p.gif#i%20feel%20good%20gif%20500x275

source:http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m039l83fru1qm135p.gif#i%20feel%20good%20gif%20500×275

 

‘Til we meet again, U of T, stay diamond!

 

-Stephen.

Ready, Set, …Wait, I’m Not Ready to Go

With frosh week gone (along with my voice and inability to stop turning day-to-day conversations into cheers #froshleaderproblems), it’s time to get on that back-to-school grind – that is, if you can first wrap your head around the amount of hard work and dedication you’ll be undertaking for the next 8 months. For the past two years, I’ve made the mistake of assuming that the first couple weeks of school was nothing I should take too seriously. If anything, they’re arguably the most important time to plan out your academic year.
The key to not falling behind is to start by getting ahead. And so, for your ease (and because I know you’re all busy jumping the gun on those readings you already have assigned… right???), here are several ways to help you stay on top of everything before midterm season rolls around and you realize you still don’t know all of your professors’ names.
  • Figure out where – and when – your classes are. Simple enough, right? Believe it or not, I have friends who went the whole year without memorizing their timetable. Knowing where and when you’re going to be occupied during the week makes it easier to plan out meetings for extra-curriculars, telling your boss your availability times, and finding out the fastest ways to get to places you need to be.
  • The UofT Bookstore is just one of the many to look for anything you need for school. Check TUSBE, an online student exchange where you can buy or sell textbooks and notes to other students, or even Amazon to see if they hold cheaper prices. Ask professors and course coordinators if old editions are allowed – it will usually save you a ton of money in the long run. Save on stationery by hitting up all the back-to-school clubs fairs for free pens and other nifty things, as well as a free student planner from UTSU. Laugh all you want, but that’s, like, $15 I’ve saved that I can now spend on Food Truck Fridays.

    Always double check if certain textbooks are actually required or are optional and supplementary. (Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/Lazy-College-Senior/)

  • Actually bother reading your course syllabus. Mark down your assignments, quizzes, midterms, labs – any assessment you might have – on any calendar you might use and plan your year out ahead that way. Make an abstract study plan for yourself and check up at the end of the week if you’re up-to-date on knowing certain concepts or material that you’ll be tested on soon, saving you the trouble of falling too far behind and having to cram a month’s worth of material the night before.

    3AM delirium while attempting to catch up on your readings and notes will do this to you.

  • Get enough sleep while you can! Seriously. Because if you’re anything like me, three weeks down the road you’ll be slaving away at Robarts past 11PM wondering why on earth you didn’t just use all the free time you had at the beginning of the year to catch up on your ZZZs, instead of staying up until two in the morning watching reruns of every sitcom imaginable. I’m aiming to start building a healthy sleep schedule by having a consistent routine of what time I go to bed, so that waking up the morning of a midterm is less of a pain, and making it to my 10AM class is still a plausible concept.

    Every time. (Source: http://thesimpsonswayoflife.tumblr.com/)

  • Last but not least, see your friends – strengthen bonds with new ones, reunite with old ones – spend time with them before the year gets too hectic and you begin to feel guilty about either not studying or having to postpone plans.
If you have any other tips on the best ways to start off a new school year, tweet them to me at @Katrina_UofT (don’t forget to hashtag #StartUofT!). I could honestly use all the help possible to get rid of this urge to bask out in the sun on Front Campus to work on my tan. With all that said, do try to enjoy the sun as much as possible and ease yourself back into things! Until next time, fellow students – have a wonderfully productive first week back!

The Juggling Act

The concept of “living a balanced life” has always been such an elusive one for me.

Growing up, I maintained a relatively erratic lifestyle, and I carried that into my first year of U of T. I’d sleep 3 hours one night, and crash for 15 hours another (no doubt after I had stayed up for at least 36 hours cramming for a paper).  I would go two days without a proper, substantial meal one week, or spend 4 hours in the cafeteria every meal, going back for fourths, and sometimes even fifths. One weekend I’d be out with my friends three nights in a row, but the next I’d neglect to do my laundry for fear that I’d waste precious “studying” time by having to fold clothes instead.

The worst of it was that I thought I had this lifestyle down to a carefully calculated system. To me, the “balance” I found was within two extremes, wrongfully thinking they’d somehow cancel each other out. Needless to say, everything started to take its toll on me – I started to get more severe mood swings, I started crashing for longer periods, and I frequently began to fall sick at least every two weeks.

Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/tabathaleggett/the-stages-of-pulling-an-all-nighter

How I ended up feeling most days.

Second year came around and many of my habits remained the same, but I noticed that subtle changes helped drastically improve certain aspects of my life.

I joined intramural volleyball again, but this time, I made it a point to attend practices and games weekly.  I hadn’t played competitively since my high school varsity team got cut back in junior year, but it didn’t matter – I still loved the game, and playing on a regular basis made me remember how good it felt to exercise. The endorphin rush was just what I needed to kickstart a day of studying after practice. I traded in going out every night of the weekend to give my body a chance to rest and recuperate from a hectic week of school.

Instead of listlessly doing mass sign ups for campus group memberships at the UTSU Clubs Fair (with my actual involvement going only so far as to just receiving the email updates), I decided to get more involved in Friends of MSF, a campus group that advocates for a cause I feel passionately about.

All these little changes began to make me feel better – as clichéd as it sounds, I felt more purpose day-to-day and it was refreshing to make friends with people who actually cared about the same things I cared about and who were actually excelling in school (not just getting by!).

The art of balancing life here at U of T often feels like a precision juggling act – we look to those who seem to have it all figured out as mythical creatures who have achieved the impossible and managed to maintain a life where “work hard, play hard” really does exist.

I’ll let you in on a secret – those people who seem to always get it right are not so different from you and I. They’re just doing everything they love with the right amount of time commitment to each endeavour.

I still struggle greatly with healthy eating habits, studying smart (not the same as studying hard!), and keeping an active lifestyle outside of intramural season, but my experiences have only taught me for the better (and I’ll definitely be keeping you guys updated on my progress along the way). Now that I’ve gotten a taste of a more balanced life, I’m determined not to let it slip away.

Source: www.tumblr.com/tagged/enough_sleep/

I’m still working on figuring out the magic formula to have all three.

P.S. If you have any advice to give incoming first-years on balancing academics with personal life, tweet us and don’t forget to hashtag #StartUofT!