Category Archives: Featured

The five kids you meet in summer school

The Person who needs one more course to graduate

You know who you are. You’ve likely finished your program and need one last pesky credit to get your diploma marking you as an educated person. Whether it’s breadth or just a random class, you know the finish line is right in front of you.

The Keener

Ah, the keener. Regardless of why they’re taking the course, you know what they’re going to do. They’re going to go to every single class, take notes on every single reading there is, raise their hand to get that participation grade, or worse, out of actual curiosity. Teach me your ways.

The Re-Do

It happens. For one reason or another we don’t pass a course and have to retake it in the summer. I mean, it’s the perfect solution. Smaller class sizes, warmer weather, twice the speed of a normal course — no pressure, right?

The One-Who-Skips-Every-Class-But-Makes-The-Final

I mean, I get it? It’s summer, it’s hot not cold out, you’re commuting downtown anyway, so you might as well enjoy the outdoor patios and the park and the chill atmosphere. Who even has time for class? Just go to the final and hand in your assignments and you’re good.

Dora The Explorer

While not necessarily named Dora, this student seeks to explore the endless classes that are held at U of T. Going from obscure class to obscure class, they seek to find the most unique classes available to us. Whether it’s a course on movies, classic rock, or graphic novels, they’ll try anything. Although no Dora, I recently took a course on the intersection of graphic novels and religion.

Next time you’re in a summer course, remember these five students. And know that one of these is definitely you.

Five out-of-the-box travel destinations — for students

Being a student is tough. Between balancing classes, jobs, and an ever-limited budget, finding the time to actually see and explore the city is tough. Even when you do find the time, Toronto is expensive. So here are five budget-friendly travel destinations for students:

  1. Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

Under a new pricing model that began on May 25, 2019, admission to the AGO for those aged 25 and under will now be free. So go on, see various pieces of Canadian, Indigenous, and international art, including exhibits like Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room.

  1. High Park

Like nature? Like picnics? Like zoos? Like free things? Well, High Park is the place for you! A spacious park in the West End, it’s known for its annual cherry blossom bloom, but also has a free zoo open all year from 7:00 am to dusk.

  1. Bike Share Toronto

Although not a destination, Bike Share Toronto offers a $7 Day Pass to bike as much as you’d like for 24 hours, from Humber Bay Park in the west to the Beaches in the east. Good for exercise, the environment, and sightseeing, the only downside is you have to dock your bike every 30 minutes or face overage charges.

  1. Allan Gardens

Located at 160 Gerrard Street East, close to Carlton Street and Jarvis Street, Allan Gardens is a mixed-use park and an indoor botanical garden, featuring beautiful plants and flowers from around the world. Open all year from 10 am to 5 am, admission is free and wheelchair-accessible as part of the Toronto Parks system.

  1. Hamilton

If you’re looking to leave the city and not break the bank, spend a weekend in Steeltown! Take a bus from downtown Toronto to Hamilton for as low as $10, and take a day or weekend exploring the burgeoning food, bar, and café scenes while exploring its natural beauty — whether the lake or its various waterfalls!

Music to listen to when you’ve graduated

School is out and you’re now free from U of T’s embrace for good. Whether you have your whole life planned out or are just taking it one day at a time, here are some songs to listen to while staring at your very expensive diploma.

“Sure Don’t Miss You” by The Dip

Freedom definitely tastes sweet, even if we all know that it’s a fleeting feeling. That’s okay, I’ll revel in this post-graduation high for as long as I can. It’s just as the chorus suggests: “someday, I might miss you, but I sure don’t miss you right now,” U of T.

“Emotions and Math” by Margaret Glaspy

Honestly, I mostly like this song for its name. It never fails to make me think that, at the end of the day, undergrad is just a combination of emotions and math.

“Beautiful Escape feat. Zak Abel” by Tom Misch

This song just makes you want to dance in pure bliss while all your friends are panicking as ACORN continues to crash during course registration. Seriously, I will not miss ACORN even a little bit.

“Is This It?” By the Greeting Committee

Now that a few months have passed since the end of undergrad, and convocation is over, the reality of the fact that you will not be returning to campus in September might be sinking in. What even is a life without studying all day and night at Robarts? I don’t know and now the post-graduation panic is starting to sink in.

“Are You Bored Yet? feat. Clairo” By Wallows 

Taking the summer off seemed like a really good idea, until I realized that I have no money to travel or take aesthetic Instagram pictures at trendy places.

“No Plan” by Hozier

Really reach your peak existential crisis phase with this next song. What is the point of doing anything? The earth is going to go up in flames soon anyways so my diploma and I will just listen to Hozier’s haunting voice until that happens.

“Sanity” by Nick Murphy/Chet Faker

The existential crisis might start to make you feel as though you’re losing your mind, a little bit. This upbeat tune might help you unwind from your downward spiral.

“Why Do You Feel So Down?” By Declan McKenna

For talking about being down, this is one upbeat song. And that about sums up the post-graduation experience: you may be stressed about what happens next, but this is also the start of a new chapter with almost endless possibilities. So don’t feel so down about it.

“Coming Home” by Leon Bridges

Graduating for many, including me, might mean having to go back home, whether it be just for the summer or indefinitely. Embrace being able to have your parents cook for you again, or not ruining every load of laundry because you’re too lazy or too broke to separate your whites from your colours.

“Postcard” by First Aid Kit

The line, “I wasn’t looking to change, I’ll never be the same,” defines my undergrad experience. So, thanks for the good and the bad, U of T. I’ll send you a postcard when I get to where I’m going.

The Squirrel’s guide to surviving summer school

I have more summer terms under my belt than I imagine the average U of T student does. Even so, I still couldn’t tell you whether I consider the session to be better or equal to the fall and winter sessions —academically of course. Still, the experience is different and also bears the ability to set a new ‘norm’ that will carry you through the session, and the rest of your degree as a whole.  Here are my tips:

  1. Take courses you LIKE

I know you’ve heard that the shortness of the summer session make it the perfect time to take the courses you want to get over with. Wrong! I’d bet that the courses you hate are not the courses you’re the best at. For the sake of your GPA — and a pleasant summer — pick courses that you enjoy.

  1. Switch things up! 

Do not study at home! I can’t stress this enough. The most intelligent people I’ve met at U of T will tell you not to study in your room. It’s nice out, so be smart and take advantage of the weather to explore new coffee shops and study spaces.

  1. Set a routine

When speaking to first-time summer school attendees, the speed of the courses seems to entice more people than it scares away. Don’t get me wrong; I was the same.  I remember asking myself, “But will they really make us cover all the same topics as the fall and winter sessions?”

The answer? I don’t know, but I’ll tell you that it’s no walk in the park. You’ll have a lot to balance in a very short amount of time, including the obligatory summer fun activities. You’re going to need a routine and learn to budget your time effectively.

  1. Get enough sleep

In the age of self-love, care, and help, it surprises me that sleep consistently gets the short end of the stick in our attempts to balance wellness, school, and a social life. With the livelihood of the Toronto summer nights, the temptation to cut down on sleep to keep up with school and friends is amplified. Sleep is not optional. Caffeine is not ‘sleep.’

  1. Make friends

Missing a lecture in the summer does not equate to missing a lecture in during the regular year — courses are covering more and going a lot faster in each lecture. You will need someone to fill you in, even if the slides are posted on Quercus. So get to know people in your lecture, because they will save you in your time of need.

Also, I’ve found making new friends in summer school is easier because, well, you’re all in the same boat, and there are fewer faces in lecture and campus as a whole.

  1. Get ALL of your textbooks

I know, I know — why spend hundreds of dollars on a 6-week course? You guessed my answer to this one: everything rushed. Not everything will be covered in lecture in depth in lecture, and you’re expected to come out of these courses with a knowledge comparable to those having taken the course in the fall and winter sessions. This means that instruction is brief, but exams are just as thick, and just as challenging.

My final tip doubles as the conclusion and the most important of them all: have fun. I don’t mean like the Canada Wonderland type of fun, but I mean contentment — not even a 4.0 GPA at U of T is worth your mental health. My final tip for survival is to promise to be good to yourself. It is the summer, after all.

Course enrolment in six easy steps

Aside from sabotage, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you get into all the courses you want— or desperately need. 

  1. Plan for the future

The last thing you want to think about in your first year is your final year, but planning ahead reduces the course enrolment panic. It also prevents you from taking more courses than you can handle — which induces more stress than necessary. 

Plan backwards. Take note of the courses you want and need to take in your fourth year, and work down. What prerequisites do you need? What distribution credits do you need? Take those and the rest will work itself out. 

Also, Degree Explorer is your friend. Don’t take more courses than you have to.

  1. Explore your options

Educate yourself on current course offerings by using the timetable planner. The planner shows all the courses offered in the fall, winter, and summer sessions, so you can map out your schedule and avoid any conflicts. There’s nothing worse than having two courses you want to take overlap with other.

  1. Always have a ‘plan B’ 

Popular and mandatory courses fill up quickly. Try to get into those first, but if they’re full make sure you have backups ready. Pick courses that fulfil some kind of requirement, or self-satisfaction, so that it isn’t a waste of time.

  1. Add courses to your enrolment cart early

ACORN graciously offers students the ability to add courses before the enrolment time. Add all your courses beforehand and just click “enrol” once it is your start time. No more scrambling to remember the course code. It’s almost as therapeutic as online shopping. 

Just make sure you have that timetable handy, so that you don’t add your alternative courses first.

  1. Set your alarm 

If you have everything in your enrolment cart, wake up 15 minutes before. You won’t have access to ACORN until your start time, so don’t waste precious sleeping time.

  1. Be a fourth-year

This probably sounds like the least helpful item on the list if you are entering your first year, but trust me, if you can just find a time machine and skip ahead about three years, it will be so much easier. Since your fourth year is usually the final year of your undergraduate life, you’re given priority by the registrar— you get to choose your courses first.

However, if you don’t have access to a time machine, there is still hope: the waiting list. You just need to be in the top 10 per cent and you’ll probably get in. Just attend the lectures and pray that everyone before you drops out.

I was at the Queen’s Park Flood

On the eleventh day of March came the Flood, where the students of Toronto, expelled from the verdant fields of Queen’s Park, were swept up in its current. Spring thawed the accumulated snow, and the narrow footpaths began to fill with water. I was there upon the surging plain, journeying home from my lecture at St. Michael’s, when I saw them all, hundreds perhaps, before the banks of Queen’s Park Crescent, thronging along the fence. In the deluge, a long depression in the ground had become a murky chasm, barring us from the safety of Hart House.

Some quailed at the treacherous crossing before them, but I knew there was nowhere to go if we turned back. The brave, or perhaps those with nothing left to fear, began to form a single-file line gripping the fence, one trembling foot before the other, backs to the torrent inches below. I took my place amongst them. Soon I discovered why the procession moved slowly: first, the thin strip of land on which we tiptoed was not land, but ice; we had to lean entirely on the fence, or else slip and plummet backwards.

 

Posted by Jacob Harron on Monday, March 11, 2019

 

Second, this fence was not built to support the weight of even a single human frame. As I and twenty others clung on, it groaned beneath us, and began to teeter ever more sharply, like the nodding head of one battling exhaustion, verging every second on collapse. I knew speed to be my only hope, but the procedure was too delicate. Those in front would not be hurried; those behind surged against me, clamouring for space. My footing wavered. I danced in place upon the frozen ledge in a sort of treadmill motion. The barrier swayed. I clenched my teeth, and inched on, trying to ignore the panic on either side of me, and the dark plummet behind my back. What did not help at all were the snide comments of those who chose simply to walk through the water, and cruelly chided, “It’s only a puddle,” or “Don’t those people own winter boots?” Classists, the lot of them.

At this point, the fence was distressingly malleable. Straining almost parallel to the water’s surface, it offered roughly as much support as a slice of salami nailed into the ground. Just as I prayed that I would be able to reach shore, I slipped. My left foot hurtled backwards, landing upon a small outcropping, which unfortunately turned out also to be ice. Before I knew what was happening, I was ankle-deep in black water, flailing towards shore in desperation and soggy shame. Though I escaped with my life, I relive the experience constantly. I hope never to return to Queen’s Park. I may never attend class again.

I have heard some compare the incident to Moses’ parting of the waters in Exodus, and casting of Pharaoh’s army into the sea. For my part, I left feeling less like a freed slave of Egypt than one of those ugly or abstruse divine accidents that Noah left behind. “Dreadfully sorry,” Meric Gertler calls down from aboard the Ark. “No room for, uh, you lot.” Some of the young, I have heard, go so far as to assert there never was anything behind those fences, and that Queen’s Park was always a metaphorical space, not something literal. Part of me wants to believe them, as I huddle under my blankets for warmth, and nurse my trench foot. Whatever that gated garden is or was, if I must pass it again, I pray less for salvation than survival.

Happy 192nd Birthday, U of T!

To commemorate the University of Toronto’s 192nd birthday I considered the number 192 and why – at least mathematically – it’s special.

A Wikipedia search of the number 192 came up with these reasons:

  • 192 is an even number.
  • 192 is the sum of ten consecutive primes – 5 + 7 + 11 + 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37. I like this one in particular.
  • 192 is a composite number, having as its factors 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 3; based on this factorization, it may also be seen to be a regular number – as its only prime factors are 2 and 3.
  • 192 is the smallest number with 14 divisors, namely 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 24, 32, 48, 64, 96, and 192 itself.
  • 192 is an abundant number, as the sum of its proper divisors (like, 319) is greater than 192.
  • 192 is a practical number, subsets of its divisors can be chosen to add to any number up to 192.
  • Based on its decimal expansion, 192 is a Harshad number (it is divisible by 1 + 9 + 2 = 12) and a happy number (repeatedly summing the squares of its digits leads from 192 to 86 to 100 to 1).

Those are the reasons why, mathematically speaking, the number 192 is special. Yet, why is U of T special?

Personally, I find U of T special for many reasons but ultimately, the most important reason is:

  • It brings together wonderful and diverse people from all over the world, not just to disseminate knowledge but also to share and cultivate in the advancement and development of new knowledge.

That said, here’s to wishing U of T a very happy 192nd Birthday!

Why is U of T special for you? Let us know in the comments below.

Five must-have phone apps in Toronto

If you’re new in the city, or if you’re just a student, here are the top five apps you definitely need to have in the city.

Transit

If you’re a consistent TTC rider and you don’t use this app, I don’t know how you’re surviving this city.

We’ve all had our fair share of the outstanding services that TTC has to offer – buses that never show up, streetcar delays, or shuttle buses replacing the out-of-service trains.

Well, to put it straightforward: Transit, the app, will save your ass.

Transit is simple, reliable, and gives you *updated* timings of nearby transit lines. With accurate real-time predictions, Transit helps you plan your trips, gives you service disruption notifications, and step-by-step navigation.

Not impressed? It even lets you book an Uber, find a Carshare, or grab the nearest Bikeshare!

It does the jobs of three different transit applications in one single app. Seriously, it’s a lifesaver.

Toronto Parking Finder

Driving in Toronto? Congratulations, you’re free from the wrath of the TTC. And yet, how do you do it? The only thing that’s worse than driving in downtown Toronto is trying to find a parking spot here.

Well, thanks to the wonders of technology, the Toronto Parking Finder app is here to save you.

Partnered with Google Maps, this app gives you the closest and the cheapest parking spots in the city when you enter your destination – it even notifies you about the free parking spots around you.

It also comes with a built-in timer and lets you know how much time is left on a parking meter to help you avoid getting those pesky parking tickets.

Some other parking apps worth mentioning are the BestParking app and the new GreenP app – if you want to give it a shot.

Ritual

Have only twenty minutes to grab lunch? Ritual helps you order ahead of time and skip lines at your favourite restaurants and coffee shops. It makes picking up takeout super easy, and the best part is that there is no extra added fee. It tells you when to leave and, once you arrive, the food and beverages are ready for you.

As if this wasn’t wild enough, you also earn points with every order, which can be redeemed later for free beverages or food.

There’s also an added benefit for businesses: Ritual helps businesses subsidize lunches or dinners for their employees.

Bunz

Bunz was a very popular Facebook group, but now they have their own app! Not a lot of people know about how great Bunz is, but if you’re a student this app is perfect for you.

Bunz is a community that basically lets people trade unwanted items with each other, instead of paying money for it. You can trade clothes, furniture, accessories, services, and a lot more – I got an entire dining table with four chairs for my small apartment for only two wine bottles!

This app is wild, and definitely worth checking out!

BlogTO

Yes, I know this is super basic, but this is my favourite app to scroll through – it gives you access to all the events taking place around you in Toronto, the ‘top 10’ restaurants for practically every food item, and even the latest news. You can find the best Toronto bars, coffee shops, hangout places, and everything else here. Pro tip: you can also save the articles and upcoming events to your list so you don’t miss them.

Want to find out the best taco place? Can’t decide which bar to hit on St. Patrick’s Day? BlogTO got your back!

Seven free film screenings on campus this March

Catch a free screening of a cult classic or a timely documentary this month with a number of film screenings on the St. George campus. These films are worth braving the cold, and none of them are on Netflix. I’ve checked.

Othello 

Liz White’s Othello (1980) featured an all-Black production, cast and crew and all, the first time Othello was not portrayed by a white actor in blackface. This is a rare chance to see this film, as it will be screened on 16mm archival print – it is not available on DVD or Blu-ray.

When: Sunday March 10

Where: Innis Town Hall

The Human Scale 

Congested roads. Unfriendly spaces. Loneliness. These are some of the symptoms of the mega city. In this documentary featuring architects and urban planners from around the world, Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl shows that it is possible to make cities better for us all. Part of the Ethics in the City film series.

When: Wednesday March 13

Where: Centre for Ethics, Larkin Building

City of God 

This fun crime drama is set in a suburb of Rio de Janeiro. Drug empires, guns, money, and the evolution of organized crime. Part of the ARC354 History of Housing film series.

When: Thursday March 14

Where: Room 200, 1 Spadina

Josie and the Pussycats 

End your week with this cult film: full of bubbly fun, throwback fashion, and commentary on crass consumerism. Part of the CINSSU Free Friday Film series at Innis Town Hall.

When: Friday March 15

Where: Innis Town Hall

The Lives of Others 

East Berlin, before the fall of the wall. A playwright is under surveillance, and he doesn’t even know. He does some transgressional stuff. Will he be caught? This is also part of the ARC354 History of Housing film series.

When: Wednesday March 20

Where: Main Hall, 1 Spadina

Metropolis 

See this classic sci-fi film by Fritz Lang as part of the Ethics in the City film series. Enjoy the story that plays out in the visually powerful scenes of this sharply divided dystopian city, complete with art deco influence. To make it more fun, a case of mistaken identity throws a wrench in the characters’ pursuit of love.

When: Wednesday March 27

Where: Centre for Ethics, Larkin Building

In the Mood for Love 

A doomed love affair, driven by fantasy but never fulfilled. This classic film is hauntingly beautiful and is set in 1960s Hong Kong, with the city cast in lush colours and deep shadows. Also part of the ARC354 History of Housing film series.

When: Thursday March 28

Where: Room 200, 1 Spadina

Shit that would be socially unacceptable everywhere but Robarts

When you enter Robarts, you take a silent pact to not judge anyone for anything. No one’s there to impress anyone. No one’s trying to look cute in case they meet their soulmate — if you are, you need to give up, put on your grimiest sweater, and suffer with the rest of us. What happens in Robarts stays in Robarts.

Something magical happens to people in the stacks, and it’s kind of agreed that you aren’t responsible for what you do there because you’re not yourself (like a criminal acquitted of murder due to temporary insanity). You just ignore everyone and turn the other cheek to behaviour that would be awkward if it happened literally anywhere else.  Everyone’s in the same ‘I’m fucked’ boat and you gotta do what you gotta do to survive.

These acts include but are not limited to:

Publicly weeping

Just GET IT OUT, friend. If you haven’t seen someone crying in Robarts, you probably will if you hang out there enough during exam season. The best and worst part about crying in Robarts is its unabashedness. Unlike with other public places, no one’s trying to hide their tears (or their snot). There’s no escaping to the bathroom, because that econ isn’t going to study itself. You just let that shit out, eyes puffy, nose running, and the most you might do is stand outside in the cold for five minutes, smoke, and have a quick existential crisis before hauling ass back to floor 13. No thanks to U of T’s mental health system, ha. Aha.

Eating with no fucks given

To the sunken-eyed bitch with your feet up in the caf at 5:30 am, a can of Monster, and Cheeto crumbs all over your face: I feel you. I am you. We are all you. Everyone smuggles food into libraries, but eating in Robarts involves a new level of desperation that makes it extra messy (and unhealthy). People forget all their manners because the etiquette part of their brain is malfunctioning from the studying.

They chew with their mouths open, they wolf down junk at alarmingly fast rates, and they shove food in their faces with their whole hands. Have I whipped out a Pez dispenser, bubble tea, stale fries, and M&Ms all at once on Robarts’ tenth floor? Fuck yeah. Would I have pulled that shit at EJ Pratt? No way.

Burping and/or farting without shame

I feel like a lot of people have burped by accident in Robarts and been mortified for two seconds but then were like ‘fuck it’ because it’s Robarts. If someone’s going to judge you in a sacred place, they are not worth politeness. People definitely let one loose in the stacks too, but not many people probably notice because everyone has earbuds in. Someone actually posted a cute missed connection a while ago (I want to say it was on Reddit?) saying something along the lines of, “To the girl in Robarts who farted with her earbuds in, I love you.” That warmed my heart. Maybe true love does exist.

Exposing others to your feet

People think really hard about what to wear to be comfortable on long flights, and I see no difference between an eight-hour economy flight and an eight-hour Robarts session – except with the flight you’ve actually made progress at the end. You’re in an uncomfortable chair, quite possibly sharing cramped space with other people, with limited leg room, bad ventilation, and bacteria-infested surfaces. You have to be comfortable if that’s going to be your whole day. It’s natural people take their shoes off because how are you supposed to put your feet up on other chairs or find weird sitting positions with Docs on?

Wearing clothes that burn people’s eyes on sight

If you’re in Robarts stacks for more than three hours, there’s a 75 per cent chance you haven’t done laundry in a long time. It’s math. Maybe you try to look presentable in class, and now all your ‘respectable human’ clothes are dirty. You have to dip into your back stock. That ill-fitting Black Market purchase from two years ago? The hand-me-down jeans from your cousin that make your ass look terrible? Your ex’s threadbare H&M sweater that you found in a drawer months after you broke up? All fair game. You submitted the paper two minutes before it was due. Your gross clothes made you not naked. You both did the bare minimum. You belong together.