Five types of people you’ll find in lecture  

If you’re sitting there reading this and telling yourself that you haven’t EVER encountered these types of personalities in your lectures during your time at university, then you are definitely kidding yourself. It may be a new semester, and you may have new classes, but no matter what, you will always undeniably and inevitably be blessed with the presence of the same type of lecture folk that seem to never leave your company.

Love them or hate them, you can’t really get away from them. Here’s a guide to identify these fine humans.

1. The Snack Attacker

It starts with the surprisingly loud crunch of a granola bar. Then, that turns into a candy wrapper fidgeting fiasco, and before you know it, this person has arranged a full-on buffet for themselves right there in your lecture hall. The passionate crunching, the chewing, the constant fiddling with candy bar wrappers, the opening and closing of surprisingly loud Tupperware — it doesn’t stop. And you ask yourself: is this person aware of the ASMR live podcast that they are giving? Probably not. They continue to sit there and destroy that extreme crunch apple cinnamon granola bar like their life depends on it without a care in the world.

Where can we find this person? Weirdly enough, always conveniently sat close to you maximizing the volume. As annoying as this all may feel, next time this person brings in some Popeyes chicken strips and fries, you may as well ask them to share, right?

2. The “Welcome to my Ted Talk”

A.K.A. the let-me-tell-you-my-life-story classmate. No matter what class you are in, no matter what the lecture topic is, this person will always — and I mean ALWAYS — find a way to weave in how their life story is totally relatable to the class content and therefore must be relevant. You could be sitting in a two-hour history class about Napoleon’s reign over Europe and this kid will probably find an opportunity to twist the conversation around and share with the class how he ‘totally gets it’ because it’s how he felt ‘this one time.’

Not only does this person turn the classroom into a show-and-tell experience for one, but they also derail the content for the rest of the lecture. By the time your exam comes around, you’ll find yourself gradually composing this person’s biography. And guess what? They’d probably love to read it.

3. The Debater

This person is like that one song that was sort of your jam for a while so you ended up listening to it way too much, and now every time it starts to play on shuffle you dash to switch it to something else. The only difference here? Well, it’s real life and you can’t shuffle past this person like an annoying song on your Spotify playlist.

This person will always, without a doubt, have something to say — or more likely, debate — with whatever the professor is talking about. Every lecture ends up making you feel like you’re watching the 2016 Trump and Clinton Presidential debates on repeat; you can’t help but sing to yourself ‘here we go again!’

So sit back, get comfortable, grab a soda or some popcorn, and settle down for what will feel like a long ride to the finish line — or to the end of class at least.

4. The Snoozer

Ah yes, the source of many student memes that circulate; the classic student with their head tilted back or hunched on the table where they appear to be trying to catch up on that extra hour of sleep  they lost when they woke up to scramble to class. Funny enough, this is the same person that probably stayed up all night catching up on their latest Netflix binge even though they claimed to have been studying.

However, while you’re sitting there being attentive as possible, you can’t help but envy how comfortable this person appears to be and how easily they have drifted away into a snooze. As they continue to rock their head back and forth as they drift in and out of sleep to the voice of your professor, you may think to yourself ‘why am I not falling asleep?’ Everybody’s got to do something to get through the day, even if it’s taking a wee nap, smack in the middle of all your peers. Go figure.

5. The Buzzfeed Baddie

Depending on the time of day, what class it is, or how much coffee you’ve had, this person could be you! Most likely to be located in the middle or the back of the classroom giggling and smiling at their computer screen, this person has occupied themselves with all the possible, ‘what does your coffee drink say about your love life’ quizzes to eye-catching rainbow cake baking videos you can possibly imagine. Needless to say, this person spends more time analyzing their Buzzfeed quiz results than understanding what is actually going on in class.

Now, every so often they’ll lift their head and give the occasional yes-I-am-listening head nod to try and appear as though they’ve been paying attention, but at the end of the day, this person is probably having a better time in class than you are. Some call it ‘distraction,’ but us students like to call it ‘entertainment.’

And then there’s you. You’re reading this and probably thinking to yourself how many of these characters you can — or actually have — identified so far. And if you’re having some trouble spotting them out, sit and think to yourself: which one am I?

Best specialty grocery stores in Toronto

Don’t be scared: specialty does not always mean expensive. A trip to a specialty grocery store is well worth the time and effort if you are curious about cuisine and pretty packaging. Specialty grocery stores are like soulmates: there is some place for everyone.

Pusateri’s Fine Foods: “I don’t want to cut my vegetables”

With three locations in downtown, personal service is Pusateri’s mantra, and it rings true. Spotty foot traffic makes the staff to patron ratio seem like 1:4 and most of them are happy to find items for you, as opposed to just pointing in its general direction. Butchers cut both meat and produce. Carrots can be washed and julienned, pomegranate seeds can go home with you without the stubborn rind, and someone else can cry over onion chopping for once. These veg-butcher services come at no extra cost, and neither does the help of a personal shopper.

Bring home what your roommate needs without taking responsibility for choosing the wrong sort of kale for her potluck. English shortbreads and beloved speculoos cookies are always in stock. Sample the sweets of the world without having to dig into your OSAP loan reservoir for airfare and accommodations.

Pusateri’s is my shrine, lay me in a bed of their ready-made quinoa when I die.

Organic Garage: buying rare expensive things at a marginally cheaper price

There is only one Organic Garage, sorry folks. One in the very west of Toronto, the part that doesn’t conveniently sit on the subway line. I haven’t visited their other location in Liberty Village, so I am vouching for the aforementioned location. Keele and St. Clair West can seem like a trek, but the trip is well worth it if you are interested in stocking up on vegan goods and organic produce. Despite the bougie brown brick facade, produce prices here tend to be cheaper than those at Metro. There, organic green kale goes for $2.99. Here, it costs a little less than half the price: $1.47. Produce is always fresh, and neatly arranged for easy access.

The space emits a warm ambiance with its wooden paneling and string lights, turning shopping for groceries into a welcome adventure. Their variety of organic foods (fresh and pre-packaged) is unparalleled. Yes, they have all the flavors of Daiya’s dairy-free cheesecakes (my favorite is key lime). Be sure to call in advance, if you are searching for a specific product. Parking at this location is free, and spots are abundant. The parking lot is nearly as great as my affinity for this hidden gem.

Cheese Boutique: for the cheese addict in you

This cheese haven has been around since the 70’s, bringing cheeses, charcuteries, and exotic fungi from around the world. Despite being on the pricier side, you get what you pay for and staff offer free cups of espresso and biscotti in store. With over 500 varieties of cheeses and three aging rooms, this is the spot to find the rarest of cheeses. The location also has a small produce section for fresh vegetables at slightly higher-than-normal prices. However, the pates and mousses they import from Quebec go for $7 in sizeable blocks. Their sandwiches, made with house-baked breads and cured meats, are also a popular choice; they’re priced at around $3.00 per 100g.

While gelatos and most bakery items are made in store, you can also find Nadege products like blue velvet bars and cinnamon cakes. This is the spot to be for unique food items and their aging room (open to the public) makes for an unforgettable experience.

A call to arms: student entrepreneurship

The story of the student or college dropout entrepreneur has become ubiquitous in our cultural consciousness. Whether it is through movies like The Social Network or through public figures like Kanye West, the trajectory of the college dropout entrepreneur encapsulates one theme ingrained in the moral fabric of our capitalist society: ‘work hard, and you will succeed.’

The magnitude of the stories we are exposed to daily can often make entrepreneurship seem foreign and unattainable. I highly doubt any of The Varsity’s readers would not pause and give serious thought to dropping out and working if they felt strongly compelled by an idea that seems larger than they are or perhaps ridiculously lucrative. Furthermore, the more impossible a story, the more we seem to glorify it — almost to a fault.

Even though the Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerbergs of this world are incredibly moving motivational forces, we sometimes collectively label the ‘dream chasers’ among our own generation as foolish. Zuckerberg’s story, in particular, reads almost like science fiction to me. Born to an unassuming middle-class family, Zuckerberg famously dropped out of Harvard to develop the social media giant Facebook. A decade after Facebook’s meteoric rise, Zuckerberg, born into very similar circumstances to my own, is called to the United States Congress to answer for the accused crimes of his company.

The result is a huge misunderstanding.

The weight of the celebrity of today’s entrepreneurs makes entrepreneurship seem intimidating and impossible when it’s a perfectly ordinary venture that anyone is capable of embarking upon. Entrepreneurship can be performed in degrees, at different levels, with varying levels of profitability. The overarching significance is that entrepreneurship should be viewed by students as an empowering venture. It doesn’t have to be a big idea that starts a company, generating income by expanding on your interests and hobbies is just as useful and may provide helpful lessons on self-sufficiency and the dreaded ‘real world.’

What you should be picturing centres upon taking a talent or interest and viewing it from a different perspective. As a university student in any discipline, look into perhaps tutoring some of your peers or younger students. You can find work online editing or consulting on the works of others. Music students can do the same and look to perform either at venues or busking — there are collaboration platforms like HitRecord that facilitate networking and artist collaboration.

If you think you have a big idea, U of T also has multiple incubators that offer help to prospective start-ups. There is the Creative Destruction Lab, the Department of Computer Science Innovation Lab, the Entrepreneurship Hatchery, the Health Innovation Hub, iCube, and the Impact Centre — just to name a few. These organizations operate with the goal of providing students with the means to see their entrepreneurial ventures succeed. They provide mentorship, occasional funding, workshops, networking opportunities, and other tools for students wishing to undertake an entrepreneurial venture.

Beyond U of T, the federal and provincial governments offer grants and other programs to student entrepreneurs such as the Summer Company grant program that provides funds to students managing operations of any size, whether that be mowing the neighbors’ lawns or launching tech-related start-ups.

The tools you need to explore the possibilities of entrepreneurship are at your fingertips. Don’t be afraid to reach out and use them.

How to maximize your smugness after a European semester abroad

So, you’ve just come back from a semester abroad — or maybe a whole year. You really enjoyed your time there, but now that you’re back in Canada, you’ve realized that’s not enough.

Other people need to know how much better your semester was than theirs. But how do you manage that? Here are The Varsity’s eleven tips for anyone who has been to Europe at any point in their life — and who needs people to know about it.

1. Show off your pictures

Yeah, anyone can google a picture of the Eiffel Tower, but can they Google you with a glass of wine in front of it trying to get an angle that cuts out the thousands of others in nearby cafes and bars doing the same thing? I think not.

2. Mention less popular destinations

Pick obscure places to bring up in conversation, but here’s the trick: this only works after you’ve seen all the popular stuff, so that you can definitely insist it’s overrated.

“Yeah, like Paris was amaaazing but after so much time there I definitely preferred Nantes, it’s just way less touristy, you know?”

3. Lie about what languages you’ve learned

The trick here is to find out quickly what language the other person doesn’t speak, so that you can insist you’ve learned a lot of  new phrases from your totally real friends.

“Do you speak any Czech? No? Oh my GGoddd I learned so much, it’s SUCH a beautiful language!”

4. Insist that it was way more than just a vacation

Yeah, you may have been to Europe, but have you’ve lived there? You bought groceries and paid rent; that makes it better, and makes your experience way more legit.

5. Compare everything back home to Europe

Now that you’re back home, you’ve returned to fix all of North America’s problems through your new-found European insight. The trick here is to think outside the box. Out at the bar with friends? Talk about Europe’s totally progressive drinking culture. On the bus? Talk about Europe’s superior public transportation. Out for dinner? Talk about just how much fresher and more organic all European food is. Walking literally anywhere? Talk about how much more walkable those damn fine European cities are.

“Wow, I just can’t get used to Toronto’s downtown anymore, every European city has so many squares and such an extensive metro, it’s honestly so much better.”

6. Don’t let anyone out-Europe you

When talking to anyone, find out quickly if they’ve been to Europe before. If they have, you’ve got to shut that down right away. Try to see if they’ve spent as much time abroad as you. Turn your weeks into months if you have to. And never deny going to a place in any given city; you’ve seen so much, it’s hard to remember, but you’ve definitely been to every museum and seen every site in all those cities you listed.

If they’ve been somewhere you’ve also been, pick a different month and insist that the vibe is totally different.

“Yeah, Vienna in the summer was cool, you were there too? Really filled with tourists though… Honestly, Vienna in the winter is sooo different, it has those beautiful Christmas markets, I really prefer it in the winter, too bad you couldn’t go.”

7. Try to move the conversation East so you can appear totally cultured

London, Paris, and Amsterdam are soo mid-2000s. You, a true European, have travelled to crazy obscure places such as Budapest and Prague. Careful, you don’t want to move too East; you still want people to be jealous, so don’t mention Belarus or Moldova.

“Oh, you’ve been to Budapest? Have you been to Bucharest though? No? Ohhh my God, I used to love Budapest, but it’s just way too corporate now, Bucharest still feels like authentic and real. You should really go some time!”

8. Compare Europe to other parts of Europe

Nothing says ‘experienced European’ more than contrasting the different cities you’ve been to. For example, talk about how the night life is totally different from city to city. Act like you’re informing people of something interesting when you compare the clubs in Belgrade and Budapest. But remember, even though Europe is so amazingly diverse, it’s still nothing like Canada, and Toronto definitely has a worse clubbing  than even the worst in Europe.

“Yeah, North Europe and South Europe are sooo different, it’s crazy. But I loved both Barcelona and Edinburgh, just in different ways, it’s so hard for me to choose! I love all the friends I made in both!”

9. Try to be sly in your bragging

People don’t like talking to smug bastards. Avoid using the word ‘abroad too much; people will catch on to what you’re doing. Use fictional European friends and events as an avenue for talking about your time there.

“Yeah, me and Andreas got sooo drunk in Budapest… oh I didn’t mention Andreas? He’s my German friend. My friends in Budapest were from all over Europe. Anyway, we got sooo wasted in public, but it wasn’t a problem because of Europe’s superior drinking culture and the convenient public transportation…”

10. Be as general as possible so nobody can disagree

If all else fails, talk about things like ‘the vibe,’ ‘the spirit,’ ‘the people’ and ‘the culture.’ It’s important that you make sure that they know, whatever it is, you’ve been there and experienced it, and they haven’t and are missing out.

“Honestly, like, have you been to Europe? For more than a month though? Yeah, see, there’s just such a different way of life there, it’s honestly something you can’t even understand without living there. I can’t really describe it to you, but I don’t think I can get used to Canada ever again.”

11. Become European

This is probably most important. What use is going to Europe just to come back a Canadian?

Measure your height in centimeters. Use the 24-hour clock. Remember, all your friends are European, and you now have authentic European friends in every city. Always insist that you are planning to move ‘back’ eventually. You can’t stay here, a European trapped in Canada!

I hope some of you take these tips to heart. What’s the point of doing anything in life if you can’t prove to anyone it was worth doing? That semester abroad? Stretch it out for years if you can. This is now the most interesting thing about you. Hold onto it for dear life.