The U of T St. George campus is huge and there are tens of thousands of students here, which can be very intimidating. If you are someone who wants to find a community to belong to and feel welcomed in, there may be challenges. However, with so many students this also means that there are many ways that you can find a group or groups that are for you. Personally, my university experience outside of academics is one of my main priorities and one of the best ways for me to gain moral support. Although I am in a very unique discipline (only 50 students in my classes!), I am going to share how I have found community on campus.
There are hundreds of clubs on campus so it is quite likely that you may find something that interests you. For me, I have chosen clubs through trial and error and choosing ones that align with my personal interests, such as sustainability and creative clubs. I personally pursued sustainability and creative clubs that help me expand communication and. Through these clubs, I have expanded my communication, met a variety of students that share a common goal, all while managing to get a break from engineering work.
2. Event participation
As someone who isn’t comfortable with crowds, it took me a long time to finally participate in events that my faculty was hosting. Whether it was through a career fair, engineering traditions, dinner dances, or painting, attending events has allowed me to realize that there are other students who, like me, are introverted but enjoy pursuing interests outside of the classroom. Participating in events has allowed me to realize how much our community has to offer and allow me to take creative measures in balancing my health.
I switched disciplines after my first year making it hard for me to fit in to a new class of students. Since my class schedule is mostly fixed and I take five classes with the same people, I decided to say hello to new students and learn about who is in my class. If this isn’t possible, just asking for help from someone beside you can be incredibly beneficial. For me, this has led to very productive study groups and great supportive friendships!
I commute to campus, so I am not able to stay late often and prefer studying at home. But nowadays, it is rather easy to join group chats, Facebook groups, or get social media notifications from clubs. For me, this makes it less intimidating than meeting new people in person. Online, I have been able to get a better sense of what happens around campus, and not be focused only on engineering events. For example, Accessibility Services has a Facebook group where you can stay in touch with other students and learn about our events.
With these main four sources, I have been able to find a community that I thoroughly enjoy. But these are not the only options. A great way to meet new people for a support system is through Accessibility Services’ peer programs!
Remember, every day interactions from people passing by, talking to professors, participating in work-studies, or even deciding that you prefer a community outside of U of T is completely okay. You belong here and there is something for you. Let me know in the comments how or where you’ve found community so far!