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

Ideas for the U of T.

Last Wednesday I enrolled in a free lecture series called ‘Ideas for the World’, hosted for students at Victoria College.

With the options of different sessions within the program, each focusing on different topics and hosted at different times, the program is an initiative to engage students in academic discussions and learning about issues in the real world, to bridge the gap between theoretical learning and practical application.

Each class has either a professor or a series of professors who come in and host discussion sessions with the students, and here’s the best part: no assignments, no grades. Class sizes are generally around 30 students and food is served, as well.

I signed up and dropped in on Conflict in Culture, a course that explores media representation in our modern world. We watched sections of a documentary called “The Century of the Self” and then hosted a free form discussion about thoughts on what we’d just watched.

What interested me most was the degree of engagement with which the students were responding, there was some energetic discussion about topics that had surfaced in the documentary, and by discussion I mean some real back and forth dialogue.

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the enthusiastic class discussion.

My general past experience with tutorials has mostly always involved a relatively silent group of students who participate reluctantly or sporadically. Questions raised might start with the material, but also inevitably moves to assignments, marks, and other housekeeping questions. Even a good T.A. can only do so much in circumstances like these.

The winning advantage of the Ideas for the World program for me is its complete disinterest in grading.

Students are released from the pressure to being graded on their performance and therefore their interest in the discussion at hand is motivated by other reasons. This results in less inhibition, more airing of opinions and ultimately, from my experience so far, more critical discussion.

U of T is a rigorous academic environment.

All semester the community crew has been sharing experiences and giving tips on how to make it through such a rigorous academic environment with your sanity intact.

But what if we talked more openly about how the grading system impacted our learning?

There are plenty of different responses to grades:

  1. Some people like the challenge, and feel their potential being unlocked as they ‘conquer’ tough assignments and achieve better grade results.
  2. Others feel crippled by the pressure of expectation, and the rigidity of the grading system, and are afraid they cannot meet the demands asked of them.
  3. There are also those who feel that grades are a box-in, reducing learning to a series of formulas that favour some, and exclude others.
  4. And some take the system to be inevitable and unchangeable, grades are what they are and there is nothing to be done about it.

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Thinking consciously about how our grades affect our performance and expectations toward learning helps us orient ourselves better in our positions on the subject.

When we do this, we can actively and productively contribute the discussions around grading, and how they impact our experience.

What kind of response do you have?
Would you be motivated to work hard and learn without grades?
What kind of learning environment do you thrive in?

 

Minding Our Minds: Unpacking Mental Health

Created with easel.ly

Created with easel.ly

Academic panels and conferences can often be dry, which is why I mainly go for the free food. If I happen to learn something interesting, great; if not, I’ll have made my case against the “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” crowd. But at Victoria College’s Minding Our Minds conference on mental health in universities last Friday, I happened to get both a free lunch and learn a few things.

  • Know what you can handle

As a naïve and arrogant second-year, I thought I could take on a six-course workload. And start a company. After a summer of working full-time and taking courses. And still be able to have all the fun I’d had as a care-free first year. Obviously you can see where this is headed…

I should have seen the second term burn-out coming because by then I was running on empty. At the pace I was going for first term, I had to take a reduced course load for winter term or face the pending implosion. I’m pretty sure all the bells and whistles were going off but I had just hit “dismiss” (it’s ill-advised).

Anyway, the point of the story is that it’s okay. Being honest about what you’re able to handle will make your life significantly easier in the long term. And that term with a reduced course load has had no significant bearing on my ability to graduate or otherwise do well in school. It probably helped, in fact.

  • Find your person

This is advice that was given at the conference by Vic’s Dean of Students, Kelley Castle. Finding your person doesn’t mean finding a psychologist or professional help, she said. It can refer to finding a mentor, parent or good friend to rely on.

When those bells and whistles do go off and you keep hitting “dismiss”, you’ll be sure to want to have surrounded yourself with people who can tell you that you should probably shift your priorities.

  • Get help early

Not just limited to mental illness but to issues of mental health and academic advising in general, it’s best to seek help early. Though there are services and staff who want to help and students who may need it, the two don’t often meet until the situation is dire. At that point, dropping courses can be the only option.

Dropping courses can be a difficult decision considering students often have to do so after they have paid tuition. More lenient policies, such as those of other universities, help take the financial burden off students by back-dating the course drop so that the student is not financially penalized for it.
Part of this delay in reaching out for help may stem from problems that begin before university does, said some conference presenters. Students in high school are often told to toughen up in preparation for university’s more rigorous workload, different teaching style and lack of one-on-one attention.

In fact, there are perhaps more supports at university, from academic advising to peer support to health services. In university, you don’t always have to ‘be tough’, as you may have been taught. But you do have to be willing to reach out.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that there are staff and faculty who are available to support you. And sometimes, they’ve had a very personal connection to issues of mental health. U of T’s own Chancellor, Michael Wilson, had begun the conference by talking about his son who had committed suicide and the impacts of mental illness on his family. Staff and faculty know that break ups, deaths and mental health crises happen and are likely more understanding than is often assumed. They are, after all, people too.

- Kay

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

50 Shades of Frosh

Orientation week is a changing thing. Heraclitus would laugh at me, I’m sure, but it is intriguing to really experience the proverbial passage of time. To think that I am getting older, that I may be out of touch.

For instance, when I learned that the headline artist for the 2013 Orientation Concert is going to be Lupe Fiasco, my response was:

Source: http://www.ign.com/boards/threads/post-a-gif-of-your-reaction-when-johnnywoodburner-finally-posts.452985721/

To which I received a look not altogether dissimilar to this:

Source: http://perfectlycursedlife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/huh-gif.gif

At which point I felt . . .

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

I remember my orientation week, back in September of 2009. Not really that long ago, but somehow it feels ancient. The whole memory revolves around a t-shirt. Possibly the most significant sign of orientation week—the t-shirts!

Source: http://www.680news.com/files/2010/09/3556db3248888bd7af7d3a1ae6bb-500x375.jpeg

I was at New College then, and our shirts were an orangey-yellow, with green lettering. They had a bull, or a gnu (it’s like a bull and a deer mixed) on the front. I cannot remember the theme of my orientation, but I remember receiving a laundry bag full of goodies, and a water bottle. Deodorant, gum, pencils, and condoms—everything a first year student really needs! Mostly, I miss that water bottle.

Anyway, the next thing I remember I was standing in a crowd of yellow t-shirts. All of us wide eyed, wondering what was happening. Orientation leaders were shouting, calling names, getting us all excited, and I was thirsty. I remember it was hot and loud, and someone gave me a lanyard with my name on it.

That’s when I left. Yep, that’s right—guilty as charged. I turned and walked quietly away.

Why?

#1      I am not a fan of crowds.

#2      I was thirsty.

#3      I wanted to experience orientation in my own way.

I walked from New College down Willcocks St., across St. George St., through that little alleyway that is beautiful in the fall and slow in the winter, and found myself at King’s College Circle. I sat down on the grass at the side of the road, on the lawn of UC, and watched.

It was unbelievable! There were so many t-shirts. Red, blue, purple (mostly purple skin), orange, green! Everywhere I looked I saw a new t-shirt and a new face, a new set of wide eyes, a new smile. I watched everyone marching, streams of cheers and chants (some nice, some funny, some . . . not so nice).

Yes, perhaps I abandoned my orientation group, but it was because that’s what I wanted to do. There is a special trick to orientation, and that is to recognize that the most important aspect is YOU. With so much going on at once, it can be easy to get lost in the fray, but never forget that this is your U of T!

As I watched, I became interested. I walked around campus and eventually found my way back to New College. Festivities were still in full swing, so I decided it was time to get involved. We ran obstacle courses on back-campus, ate hamburgers and pie, danced on a boat-cruise, danced at an awkward party, went out to a fraternity party, and a lot more that I can’t remember.

There are many shades to orientation week. I tried my best, but surely there is something that I missed. I’ve heard that orientation Leaders have the most fun, because they understand what it’s actually about.

It’s about being interested. U of T offers a new opportunity in every direction that you look. Orientation week is like a 100 level course in opportunity seizure, geared to spark your interest in university life.

There was a lot of talk and noise in 2009, but the real value lay in the quieter, interesting moments—the people I met, the places I explored, the things I remembered.

We are learning. We are students. It is your Orientation!

 

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

 

-Stephen

My U of T

As my favourite English secret agent once said, “Allow myself to introduce myself” (#secretagent if you know who I am talking about!).

Hi. My name is Stephen and this will be my final year at the University of Toronto. I would be remiss to say that I am not a little sad, but it seems the 2013/14 term is bound to bring a brand new experience for me at U of T, as a blogger for Life @ U of T. The last four years have been wonderful (hopefully not the best times of our lives, but certainly as good as they should be), and I am excited to be able to give something back. It is going to be fun!

How about some trivia? Three things about me—one of them might be false!

  1. I took a year off between high school and university and worked in a warehouse stacking boxes, just like Kenickie from Grease (only he was working for the city).
  2. I was largely raised on movies, though I love to read—I also love laughing, biking, live-comedy, classical history, and when buildings look like faces. Ha!
  3. In first year, after my parents had gone home and I was left alone to unpack and adjust to my new surroundings, I closed the door and could not move, feeling nervous and afraid and shy. The next week I joined a university sketch-comedy group.

Which is false? It was a trick—they are all true!

Update: This summer I am working for Victoria College Grounds (they hire students), and while walking around, trimming hedges or watering rows, I’ve noticed groups of what appear to be recently admitted students enjoying a campus tour. Every time I see a tour I think that I should run over and introduce myself.

But I don’t. And it’s not because I’m too busy pulling out weeds. It’s because I can’t think of what to say.

The Community Crew made a welcome video, in which I suggest that you should Say Hi to everyone that you meet. It’s a fine idea, but sometimes it can be hard to follow.

It took me a while to feel comfortable stepping outside of my dorm room. But I realized that I could either allow the uncertainty and anxiety of the situation to overwhelm me, or I could look at everything a little closer.

I could see that this was my dorm room. The people in the hall were my roommates. This was my University of Toronto experience. And it wasn’t pride I felt, but purpose. When you invest yourself in the experience at hand, whether studying, working, or socializing, you imbue the act with meaning. It becomes a part of you.

So if you happen to be on campus and you see me, just think to yourself: That’s Stephen, my Life @ U of T blogger. I think I’ll go say hi.

Until next time, stay diamond U of T.

- Stephen

 

 

College Governance 101

It’s election season (or rather, month)! The most wonderful time of year (or the most riveting). If there is any point in the year that you really see the full extent of how many different structures and political bodies there are on campus, it’s now. And it can be mighty confusing, so I’ve created a handy guide of whats-what on our politically bumpin campus. More importantly, a guide that can be your first step in exercising your own democratic rights this election cycle. Before voting, reading up on platforms, objectives and candidates, it’s important to understand the structure of the institution you want to support.

This week I’ll focus on College Governance;  each College at U of T has its own student government, varying in structure depending on the college. Generally these student governments oversee how finances are spent in the respective colleges, organize and create events, and have a number of different roles to get involved with.

Trinity College Meeting (TCM)The TCM is the student government at Trinity College, operating under a direct democracy which allows any Trinity College student (with a gown on hand!) to participate in being able to make motions, vote or participate in meetings. Trinity College itself elects a male and female Heads of College, Head of Non Resident Affairs and Head of Arts who help lead and enhance student life and community at Trinity.

Image Source: Trinity College

Fun Fact: The TCM is the only North American student government that allows every member of its College to be members. There are no elected council positions, but the TCM is chaired by an elected representative known as the Chair of the TCM, other elected positions also include the secretary, treasurer, archivist and auditor. It oversees the social calendar of the year, reviews things like club mandates (anyone can start a new club), finances, elections for roles in College life and issues or initiatives proposed by students.

Victoria College Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC)VUSAC is Victoria College’s student government, dealing with all matters of student life in events, clubs, and other initiatives as well as overseeing scholarships. The council is made up of a president, vice president external and internal, chair, finance chair, various commissioners and members at large. They also have office hours in the Birge Carnegie building, so be sure to drop in and say hello if you’re a Victoria College student and want to learn more about VUSAC. You can also check out this handy guide of Vic from A-Z here. Fun Fact: The location of the VUSAC office has changed 3 times in 5 years due to the various construction/renovation projects taking place at Vic.

University College Literary & Athletic Society (UCLit)

The Lit (also the oldest democratically elected student council in Canada!) is UC’s student government, made up of over 35 student representatives. The Lit is involved in planning student events, enhancing community life at UC and important issues affecting UC students.

Image Source

 

It also has an executive of the President, Vice-President and so forth. Students can also get involved with the Lit by volunteering with different commission initiatives. The UCLit also plans UC’s annual Fireball, a complete night of dancing, dinner and all kinds of activities. Fun Fact: The Lit also has a great history – belonging to the first College at U of T and tracing its start all the way back to 1854 – it originally was a forum to discuss science and philosophy. The Lit’s motto is as follows: Omnium regina rerum oratio, ”the power of oratory eloquence” and you usually find their offices in the Junior Common Room.
Image Source

St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU)The St.Michael’s College Student Union is St.Mike’s student body government, with a President, Vice-President and various commissioner positions.

These commission areas include: arts, athletics, communications, community life, double blue, education and government, finance, and religious/community affairs. They also organize and run applications for frosh week planning.

New College Student Council (NCSC)The New College Student Council (NCSC) is New College’s student government, and any New College student is a member and eligible to run. There are several elected positions for various director roles (such as communications or frosh week). They also organize frosh week positions and roles.

Innis College Student Society (ICSS) - ICSS is the Innis College student government, planning and overseeing social events, athletics and other activities for students. Its governing council includes a president, vice president, treasurer, internal officer, and a number of representatives.
Image Source

Woodsworth College Student Association (WCSA)  - WCSA is comprised of elected student representatives who help plan and facilitate Woodsworth student life, events and initiatives. The board consists of a president and six vice presidents in internal affairs, social affairs, public affairs, financial affairs, external affairs and athletic affairs.


St.George Roundtable (SGRT) - The SGRT is a council comprised of all student governance and council presidents, heads of colleges and faculties for the St.George Campus. Anyone is welcome to attend the meetings. This forum is especially important, as it allows leaders from each college to not only get together on a regular basis and share important ideas, concerns and initiatives, but also creates a sense of familiarity and unity for a campus as large as ours.

Essentially, with a body of elected leaders from each College, the SGRT is a round table representing a significant portion of students here. The SGRT plans events such as the annual Winterfest, organized for students in January following winter break. It’s a great representation of how the college system operates at a school as large as ours, while all having their own systems of governance but still working together in the grander scheme of things.

Next week: Governing Council & Unions

-Vahini

Open Bar

I thought that might get your attention.

So it’s that time of year when your brain starts turning to mush. The count down has begun…seven weeks to freedom! It’s time to finish the essays, plow through the midterms, and hold your breath those last final weeks until finals are done. It’s the time of year when you need a break, or at least I do.

The other night I attended an Awards Gala for my college. It was held in the great hall at Hart House and the food was divine! It was so nice to forget about all the things I have to do in the next month and relax with some friends. It got me thinking about all of the amazing formals that are fast approaching.

Most colleges have end of year galas and I think we should all take advantage of the opportunity to de-stress, let loose, and get all fancy even if it’s  just for one night.

I thought I would provide you with a listing of all of the colleges’ end-of-year parties and then you can let loose, enjoy the good food, and open bar if you so choose.

Unfortunately, this is all I could find. I was really surprised at how hard it was to locate these three events online. I know most of the colleges have these year end formals,  so I’m hoping that all you readers out there will add to the list! Post a comment and I will make updates to this list as they come in.

So here it is:

Woodsworth College Gala (presented by WCSA) — March 31st, 2012 @ 7PM. The event will be held at the Fairmount Royal York…Shwanky!

St. Mikes College Annual Double Blue Formal (presented by the SMC student’s Union) — March 9th, 2012 @ 7PM. The event will be held at Le Jardin…also quite Shwanky!

Victoria College (VUSAC) presents Highball 2012! Speakeasy: A 1920s Affair on March 2nd, 2012 @ One King West Hotel. This one looks like a ball…teehee. The banner is cut off at the bottom, but it says a shuttle will be available from the college to the venue on the evening of the affair.

We all need a break! If anything you’ll finally have a chance to wear that fascinator you’ve always wanted to try out!

-Lori

The Value of Sheep

An interesting thing happened to me this weekend, something that doesn’t typically happen to a student within the parentheses of Friday and Monday: I learned something! And no, it wasn’t how many beers I could chug in five minutes. I learned the value of sheep. Confused? Allow me to elaborate.

This past Saturday, October 28th, Victoria College played host to a leadership conference entitled The Departure Gate. I happily gave up most of my Saturday in order to attend the conference, after I’d been lucky enough to be granted a complimentary ticket along with nine of my fellow Woodsworth peers.

I wasn’t sure exactly what I would get out of the day, but the event website promised a day of leadership development, engaged group discussion, and empowered lectures from four renowned speakers. The funny thing is — although I was impassioned by each of the speakers and had learned important qualities for being a good leader — what I had found most valuable was something that had little to do with the conference and yet everything to do with good leadership. I learned how to be a good follower, a good sheep.

You see, I feel that there’s a certain type of individual that signs up for a leadership conference, or at least one that pays $65 to attend one. Either they self-identify as a leader, or they are looking to pick up the qualities that they desire and feel that they need in order to become one. More often than not, these qualities centre around your ability to lead a group, i.e. to be outspoken, opinionated, driven, and more often than not, vocal. Now the problem was that on Saturday we had twenty-five of these people crammed into a room and then asked to cooperate on specific tasks. First, we were given a pack of spaghetti and some tape and asked to build the tallest tower possible in seven minutes. Of course, in a room full of leaders, everyone has an opinion that they think is the best and that they want to be heard. The result: total and utter chaos!

Everyone yelled at each other frantically, trying to sell their idea in as little time as possible. No one, including myself, seemed to realize that they were all talking at the same time, and that no one’s ideas — however good they may have been — were capable of penetrating the cacophony of voices. The consequences of this showed, as with time up, our tower lay on its side, and our “team” was left to consider what may have been if we weren’t all so keen on assuming this misguided idea about the role of a leader.

Our group facilitator — having had the opportunity to watch us flounder — then berated us for our lack of cohesion, and explained the next task to us as we all nodded at his insights and instruction. Regardless and oblivious to his wisdom, the second task began in much the same fashion as the first, with many if not all of the group members claiming to have the perfect solution to the problem. Realizing the imminent repetition of confusion and ultimate failure, I shut my mouth, stepped back, had a look at the group, and quickly realized that this wasn’t going to work. I was not going to give my opinion this time.

Instead, I listened, and leant my voice to someone else’s process, even though I did not necessarily think that it was ideal. However, it was one that I felt we could all agree upon, and this was better than shouting ideas that would never even be fully realized. I didn’t get my idea out there, but this tiny sacrifice give two voices to one opinion, and slowly but surely, the value of this began to show and one by one, we got behind the idea, even if it was a compromise, and suddenly we had one leader and six sheep. The important thing to note is not so much that we succumb to one member of the group, but that we had formed an important hierarchy and a team, wherein we had one leader but he needed us as much as we needed him.  This is the symbiotic relationship that exists in almost every social situation, i.e. not everyone can be the leader!

The problem is though, that the title of follower is often associated with dependency and it’s often set in a negative connotation. In reality though, there’s nothing subsidiary about being a follower. We are all followers at one point or another: we follow our parents, we follow our teachers, our mentors, a higher power (maybe). Oftentimes it’s more likely that you will find yourself in a position where it’d be more beneficial for the group, for you to step back, listen, and be a good follower: you’ll likely build a bigger tower, or at least one that stands.

Harry Potter and U of T?!

Any Harry Potter fans out there? If you are, then I am sure you know what happened this weekend. Yesssssss, Deathly Hallows (part 1) was released in theatres!

I grew up with Harry Potter. I remember devouring the first three books when I was in Grade 6 and then eagerly awaiting subsequent new releases as I graduated from each grade.

Even though U of T is huge, one of the things that secretly comforted me when I first started here was that our college system was much like HP’s house system, and even more so that I was at Trin! We wear robes, yo.

But the books are completed and the films are approaching its end. The one thing that has been with me throughout the highs and lows of highschool and university applications and tests and pretty much the one thing that remained constant with me year after year is slowly fading into the recesses of my memory.

What delights me though, is how I’m coming to discover that this childhood friend of mine really hasn’t gone away. It started when I noticed that a photo of a student on the U of T homepage has a Gryffindor scarf wrapped around her neck. Then, when I did my Colleges series last year, Janine Hubbard, Recruitment and Outreach co-ordinator at Vic told us a fun fact:

Students often comment on how much our dining hall looks like the one in Harry Potter. Well, after a colleague did some research, he found out that our hall design was based on one at Oxford (Christ Church College’s dining hall), and it was used in the Harry Potter films, so we essentially have the same design!

HP has leapt off the pages of its canon and has taken a life of its own, going so far as to challenge and engage our student and academic life. Don’t believe me? For starters, Professor Alison Keith, chair of classics, credits the increase of interest in Latin courses at U of T to the Harry Potter series!

Two things that make me smile every time I hear about it are U of T’s Harry Potter lectures and our Quidditch team. What? You didn’t know we had these? Now you do, dear readers, now you do.

Shamefully enough, I couldn’t make either. I know, I know. I’m sorry. To make up for it, I wrote my final paper on a literary analysis of the rhetorical strategies in Harry Potter for my INI209 class. Concurrently, I wrote a 20-page essay on the Jungian perspective of Lady Gaga. I may have slept very few hours in those last couple of weeks of the semester, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy rereading HP looking for evidence while blasting Lady Gaga in my room.

Anyways, I digress. Every now and then, we have lectures on the science of Harry Potter. I really wanted to make “The Quantum Physics of Harry Potter”. The department even brought in a magician! Who said academia is all serious business? Luckily, you can experience the book and science nerdiness in all its glory here.

Apart from physics, Professor George Eleftheriades from the Department of Engineering (ECE) was researching the possibility of making invisibility cloaks, and finally… WE HAVE A QUIDDITCH TEAM.

I have Facebook friends on the Quidditch team and I saw pictures, but I can’t for the life of me find them. I did email the team and they said to keep checking back on their Facebook page for upcoming games next semester.

Muggle Quidditch is as ridiculous as it sounds. It’s a mish-mash of soccer and lacrosse and tag, except, you have a broom stuck between your legs. I’m going to be mature and adult and not make any of the litany of wildly inappropriate jokes that come to mind. Check out the photos from The Varsity. Despite sticking a broom between your legs and perhaps giggling self-consciously, the game is actually quite intense; just look at the photos from when McGill came over to teach us how to play. U of T went to the Quidditch World Cup a few weeks ago and played their first game against the NY Badassilisks (what a kickass name). We didn’t win, but I found a video of the action on Youtube:

Take a break from writing/studying and reminisce with me. What memories do you have of Harry Potter? Have you seen DH1 yet?

- Cynthia