All posts by Kaitlyn Simpson

Managing Online Editor 2018–2019 Features Editor 2017–2018 Associate News Editor 2016–2017

How to make the most of that dreaded commute to campus

I’ve had my fair share of commuting in undergrad. Half of my time spent at school was commuting approximately an hour-and-a-half to two hours to get to class. At first, I found the journey annoying at best and dreadful at worst, but over time, I somehow managed to make it work.

Everyone has their own routine and rhythm when it comes to commuting. Some people enjoy the hustle and bustle of rush hour, while others try to avoid it at all costs. Here are five tips for everyone to make the best of your daily commute:

1. Meditate – I typically try to avoid sleeping during my commute because of the fear I’ll miss my stop – it has happened before, unfortunately. The next best way to relax and let loose is mediation. If you can muster up the courage to close your eyes and breathe deeply in front of a bunch of strangers, I highly recommend meditating. You could meditate on your own or use an app that walks you through the steps. I personally use the popular app, Headspace, but there are plenty of options out there. It’s a peaceful way to start and end the day.

2. Listen to your favourite podcast – There’s not much you can do on those packed rush hour Subway cars but listen to podcasts or music. If you drive to campus, you’re in a similar boat. My advice is to reserve one of your favourite podcasts specifically for your commute, that way you have something to look forward to. For me, this pod was Song Exploder, but choose whatever suits your taste. Also, if you can afford it, noise cancelling headphones are the way to go. If not, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives that will do the trick.

3. Do your schoolwork – This one’s a little tricky for those who drive in, but us GO Train-er’s can appreciate the beauty of the quiet zone to get a little work done. I wouldn’t recommend finishing your readings if you are prone to motion sickness – I, for one, can’t read on the bus – but your commute is a great opportunity to squeeze a little work at the beginning or end of your day.

4. Socialize – This tip is great if you know someone who has a similar commute. If you have a close friend who gets off at your stop, you definitely lucked out. I’m fortunate that my parents and I share the same commute into the city so, even if we don’t always talk during the trip (again, quiet zone), it’s still nice to spend the time with them. Additionally, for one year, my partner and I were both commuting west of the city and we took the opportunity waiting for our trains to just hangout and de-stress.

5. Catch up on the latest news – During my years commuting, I spent every morning reading the Globe and Mail and skimming through my New York Times daily email newsletters. During the day, I would pick up a print copy of The Varsity and read it on my travel home. If you drive, I recommend listening to CBC Radio at 99.1 FM – Matt Galloway’s Metro Morning is the only thing I want to listen to when I’m rubbing sleep out of my eyes. For those who prefer to check the news on your phone, I would recommend get an app like Pocket which allows you to download news articles and read them from your device when you lose your internet connection.

6. Celebrate the beginning or end of the day with a nice beverage – If you know me, you’re well-aware I’m a big fan of coffee. I often grab Tim’s before my morning commute and a decaf from Union Station’s McCafé for the way home. Occasionally, I’ll grab another drink like a Booster Juice or even just fill up my water bottle. It might seem excessive, but having a drink during my trip somehow made it just the slightest bit nicer.

Campus events you shouldn’t miss out this week

Monday

Commuter Appreciation Week: Innis De-Stress Self Care Event

Let’s be honest, we could all use a little de-stressing. This week various college commuter groups have joined to host UTSG’s annual Commuter Appreciation Week. Monday’s event will feature everything self-care related from tea and snacks to bubble wrap popping.

When: 4PM—7PM

Where: Innis College Residence Events Room, UTSG

Cost: Free

Tuesday

Lecture Me! A Series: Video Games can Make You a Better Person

This UTM event is part of the Lecture Me! series and will showcase English and Drama Professor Larry Switzky. Many public discussions concerning video games centre around its potential for violence, however this lecture will emphasize its possibilities for good. The free event should make for a unique discussion.

When:  7PM – 8:30PM

Where: Experiential Education Unit, UTM

Cost: Free

Wednesday

Masquerade Ball: The Social Sciences Formal

The Ethics, Society & Law Students’ Association, Undergraduate Social Students’ Union, Peace, Conflict & Justice Society, Criminology Students’ Association, and Employment Relations Student Association have teamed up from an annual course union formal. Tickets are slightly cheaper for those in the social sciences but everyone is welcome.

When: 7PM – 11:59PM

Where: Hart House East Common Room, UTSG

Cost: $10 for social science students and $15 for non-social science students

Thursday

Netflix and Neuroscience

The Neuroscience Association for Undergraduate Students is holding a low-key movie night this Tuesday. The association says the film is TBD but will be neuroscience-related. Oh and also, there will be snacks.

When: 4PM – 6:30PM

Where: Claude T Bissell Building, Room 112, UTSG

Cost: Free

Finding a Literary Agent

Hart House’s Literary and Library Committee’s annual, “Finding a Literary Agent” event is perfect for those interested in writing and publishing. The panel will feature Toronto-based authors and agents who will share their experiences and advice for aspiring authors.

When: 6PM—9PM

Where: Hart House East Common Room, UTSG

Cost: Free

Friday

Environmental Career Day 2019

This Friday, U of T’s School of Environment is hosting a career day specifically designed for those interested in jobs involving the environment. Learn about various volunteer, internship, and employment opportunities from different organizations. All students are welcome to attend the day-long event.

When: 10AM – 3PM

Where: Hart House Great Hall, UTSG

Cost: Free for U of T students

Voicing Our Stories: International Women’s Day Variety Show

For International Women’s Day, Hart House’s Social Justice Committee, the MGA Intersectional Feminist Collective, and Hart House Global Commons will be hosting a women-filled showcase. The event will feature stand-up comedians, writers and poets, and a performance artist. You won’t want to miss this one.

When: 7PM – 9PM

Where: Hart House Debates Room, UTSG

Cost: Pay what you can

Saturday & Sunday

Indig-U-Know: UTSC’s first Indigenous Conference and Pow Wow

This weekend, UTSC will have its first Pow Wow and Indigenous Studies Conference. The Scarborough Campus Students Union has partnered with campus Elder Wendy Phillips and UTSC staff to put on the event. The weekend will begin with the conference filled with lectures, workshops, panels, and performances, and will end with a traditional Pow Wow.

When: March 9 at 10AM – March 10 at 9:30PM

Where: UTSC

Cost: Free

Best conversational podcasts to listen to during your day

Those of us avid podcast listeners understand that different types of podcasts are perfect for different times. Narrative podcasts like Thunder Bay or (everyone’s favourite) Serial, are great to enjoy to when you have the time and energy to binge-listen for a couple hours.

Meanwhile, podcasts like Freakonomics and Heavyweight are great listens when you have about an hour of dedicated dish-washing time to immerse yourself in audio storytelling and learn something new.

However, some of my favourite podcasts are conversational in nature and perfect for when you’re half-distracted, slightly preoccupied, but still want a little background entertainment, nevertheless. These are my favourite pods to enjoy when I’m commuting, playing video games, or falling asleep.

1. (Un)Spoken by The Varsity – I couldn’t write these recommendations without giving a shout-out to The Varsity’s very own conversation-based podcast! But seriously, (Un)Spoken deserves to be on this list. U of T’s very-own Blythe Hunter and Elham Numan bring listeners into funny and intimate conversations about race on campus. The episodes are around 45 minutes long and occasionally include guests. Highly recommend.

2. Guys we F****D: The Anti-Slut-Shaming Podcast by Sorry About Last Night – This podcast is one of my all-time favourites. Hosted by comedians Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson, each episode is a low-stakes chat about sexuality, life, and occasionally love. Each episode has a guest who discusses how their lived experiences influence their understanding of sex. This pod is hilarious, entertaining, and you might accidentally learn something new.

3. Earning Curve by Gimlet Creative – Although I usually avoid branded podcasts, Earning Curve is a great listen for those who are interested in learning about business but aren’t studying at Rotman. Earning Curve is a podcast hosted by former-Dragon and venture capitalist Michele Romanow who candidly chats with entrepreneurs about their businesses and their struggles. This pod isn’t as popular as some others, but its Canadian twist makes it a hidden gem.

4. Still Processing by The New York Times – Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris have truly made this podcast a must-listen. Discussing pop culture, current affairs, and politics from a racial and gendered lens, Still Processing is a go-to for those who want to think critically about the society we live in.

5. Pod Save America by Crooked Media – This podcast is a staple for news junkies. Four former White House aides in the Obama administration discuss the latest news in American politics while interviewing notable politicians and stakeholders along the way.

Eight upcoming campus events you should definitely check out

1. UTHS Website Launch Party: The University of Toronto History Society is launching their long-anticipated website. The group’s website is a digital database of U of T’s history, curated entirely by students. The free event will also feature displays by U of T Archives and a keynote by Historian and Professor Robert Bothwell.  As an added bonus, there will also be appetizers and a cash bar.

When: Thursday, January 24 at 7pm

Where: Hart House Debates Room

2. Hug As Many Schoolmates As You Can In 3 Minutes To Spread Warmth: This event needs no explanation. And it’s something we all need, even if we won’t admit it.

When: Thursday, January 24 from 4:12pm to 4:15pm

Where: Front Campus

3. Undergraduate Research Conference: The Arts and Science Student Union is hosting their second annual Undergraduate Research Conference where students from various academic backgrounds present their research to the U of T community. The conference is all day so you can easily squeeze in a presentation or two between class. The keynote speaker this year is Political Science Professor Lynette Ong.

When: Friday, January 25 from 9am to 3pm

Where: Sidney Smith Hall

4. U of T’s Annual Snowball Fight: Cause, why not? There’s no better way to de-stress than letting loose and throwing some icy snowballs. Unsure what you’re walking into? The Varsity’s got you covered. Check out this video we made of the snowball battle last year.

When: Friday January 25 at 6pm

Where: Front Campus

5. Poker Night Social: The University of Toronto Poker Club and Innis Poker Players are hosting a relaxing evening of poker and tea this Friday.

When: Friday January 25 at 6pm

Where: Innis College Residence Events Room

6. Pathways to Sustainability Conference: This Saturday, the Sustainable Engineers Association is hosting 2019’s U of T Sustainability conference. The conference’s theme is “Pathways to Sustainability” and will explore a variety of topics related to sustainability. The event is stacked with great keynote speakers and will have food.

When: Saturday, January 26 from 8:30am to 6pm

Where: MaRS Discovery District

7. ASA Arts Night: U of T’s Afghan Students’ Association is hosting their fifth annual Arts Night on Saturday. The evening provides a platform for various forms of Afghan art. In addition to visual art, the event will also feature spoken word poetry, traditional dance, and musical performances. Last year 250 people came to the event, and this year the association is hoping to expand further. Individual tickets are $20 and, if you purchase in a group of five, each ticket is $15.

When: Saturday, January 26 at 6pm

Where: Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas Street East

8. Design for The Varsity: Come help design our weekly print paper! If you have used Adobe InDesign before you can sign up for a weekend production slot by emailing one of our designers at [email protected] or [email protected] If you don’t have experience — no worries! You can sign up for a training session by emailing our designers as well.

When: Saturday, January 26 between 11am and 3pm

Where: The Varsity‘s office, 21 Sussex, third floor

Four upcoming career fairs to keep your eye on

1. Get Experience Fair!

A bunch of U of T organizations and offices are partnering to host the Get Experience Fair next Wednesday at Hart House. The fair promises to equip students with skills necessary to gain experience for the workplace. According to the Facebook event, the fair will provide “a relaxed environment” to explore various job opportunities.

When: Wednesday, January 16, 11am-3pm.

Where: The Great Hall, Hart House, 7 Hart House Cir.

2. Get Hired: Summer and Full Time Job Fair

UTM’s annual job fair is one of the largest career fairs at U of T. With over 80 organizations participating, the Get Hired fair is solid place to being job-searching. Come to this fair with an updated resume in hand and a professional outfit. Have questions? UTM’s Career Centre has put together a video with tips to prep:

When: Wednesday, January 16, 10am-2pm.

Where:  RAWC, 1825 Outer Circle.

3. UTSC: Summer and Full-Time Job Fair 

UTSC’s career fair boasts over 70 organizations with both summer and full-time positions available. Starting this year, the job fair will also have an “Entrepreneur Alley” to help students learn skills needed to start a business. UTSC has created a tip sheet to help students prepare for the fair.

When: Thursday, January 24, 11am-2pm.

Where: Highland Halls Events Centre, 1265 Military Trail.

4. New Grad Career Fair 

U of T has partnered with Ryerson University to host a career fair specifically designed for recent grads. This fair provides current students and recent grads with the opportunity to chat with recruiters and learn about the requirements for a variety of jobs. Ryerson has created a guide for fair attendees to ensure you’re ready for the day. According to the event page, you might even score an interview at the fair – so be prepared for anything!

When: Thursday, February 7, 11am-3:30pm.

Where: Chestnut Residence and Conference Centre, 89 Chestnut St.

Things to do on campus this weekend

Here’s your list of to-do’s for this chilly January weekend on campus.

Saturday 

1. Varsity Blues Men’s Hockey vs. Brock Badgers 

Come out and cheer on our Varsity Blues men’s hockey team this Saturday at 6pm. Students get in free with their TCard and the first 100 guests will get a complementary Varsity Blues toque!

When: Saturday, January 12, 6pm.

Where: Varsity Arena, 299 Bloor St. W.

2. Making the Dead Talk 

The Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology Student Union is hosting their annual symposium this Saturday exploring a variety of topics in forensic science.  The conference will include a career panel, a poster fair, multiple speakers, and a demonstration of live forensic techniques. As an added bonus, food is provided!

When: Saturday, January 12, 6pm.

Where: Macleod Auditorium, 1 King’s College Circle.

3. Tommy Thompson Park Winter Outing

Okay, it’s technically not on campus but the U of T Ornithological Club is hosting a hike at Tommy Thomas Park this Saturday and it’s definitely worth checking out. The club plans to walk a few kilometers hoping to spot ducks, raptors, and owls. Even if you’re not a birder, it’s still worth tagging along; a winter afternoon hike is the perfect opportunity to clear your mind. If birds are your thing, make sure to bring binoculars!

When: Saturday, January 12, 11am.

Where: The group is meeting in the parking lot at Unwin Ave. and Leslie St.

Sunday

4. Day of Percussion 2019 

U of T’s Faculty of Music has teamed up with the Ontario Percussive Arts Society to host a day in celebration of percussion instruments. The event will include clinics by drummer Sarah Thawer, mallet players Frozen Earth Duo, and the percussion section of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. There will also be a afternoon and evening concert for your listening pleasure.

When: Sunday, January 13, 10am-9pm.

Where: University of Toronto Faculty of Music, 80 Queens Park Cres.

5. Drop-In Basketball 

Keep up that new years exercise resolution with drop-in basketball this Sunday. Shoot some hoops or participate in a low-stakes scrimmage.

When: Sunday, January 13, 12pm-4:50pm.

Where: AC Field House 1 and AC Field House 4.

6. Copy Editing  

Come copy edit for The Varsity! No experience is required – we’ll show you the ropes.

When: Sunday, January 13, 11am-2pm.

Where: The Varsity‘s second floor office, 21 Sussex Ave.