Like most other U of T students, I have just finished the fall term for 2008 (and boy does it feel good). Unlike the majority of other students, however, the end of this term signifies for me the beginning of a momentous event in my undergraduate career: the start of my last term [ever!] as an undergraduate student. There were times when both I (and my ever-fretting mother) thought the day would never come, yet here it is. This past term was a lot like many of the others that I’ve survived at U of T, and seeing as the next is my last as an undergraduate (and maybe my last as a student of any kind) I’ve been thinking about all the things I meant to do at the university that I haven’t yet.
As, over the past two weeks, I’ve somewhat exhausted list-making, here I’ll mention only a few of the things I really want to do before potentially leaving the school for good.
First and foremost, I really need to get myself over to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, where I’m desperately hoping that I’ll only be able to turn the pages of age-old books while wearing little cloth gloves. It sounds like a history student’s Shangri-La, filled with medieval manuscripts. Presumably the library smells like knowledge (dusty and sweet) and once arriving, I will never want to leave. I will most likely soon be letting you know if this is anything close to the truth.
Second, I will submit a few papers to the HSA (History Students’ Association) Journal, The Future of History. I have a pile of papers I’ve written over the past three and a half years, a half dozen of which I am sufficiently proud to submit for publication. (This includes one of my personal favourites, a 12-page paper on the nineteenth-century advent of the toilet as a popular household commodity, a catalyst behind the birth of modern medicine and urban infrastructure, and behind the death of outdated Victorian ideals on the body. I’m a little worried that the editors will be a bit insulted by it, as I have dubbed it The Toilet Paper: The Nineteenth Century’s Silent [But Deadly] Revolution, but I feel nonetheless that it is a worthy historical paper, and merits at least a try).
Next term I will also photograph my favourite alleyways, nooks, crannies, and stained-glass windows: my favourite parts of the U of T campus. These I plan to amass into some sort of photographic map, to which I can turn to in later years to remember the school.
And finally, this spring, when the tulips are in bloom, when apple trees pour out their blossoms onto the wind, when migrating birds belt out a thousand merry songs from bobbing tree branches, and when I am drowning in the murky blackness popularly known as U of T exam time; I will make a point of packing a tablecloth and basket full of food and scooting over to the campus to enjoy an early May picnic in one of the school’s more isolated courtyards.