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!

Mindfulness on campus

Here are some campus spots to de-stress during the week.

St. George Campus

Ecstatic Dance Meditation 

When: Tuesday, March 12, 7:50-9:45pm

Where: Koffler House

Price: $5 for students and faculty

Hart House Drop-In Mindful Moments/Meditation 

When: Tuesdays 8:10-9:00am/Wednesdays 3:10-4:00pm

Where: Hart House Exercise Room/Hart House Activities Room

Price: Free

Get Crafty: wire tree sculptures

When: Thursdays 11:00am-1:00pm

Where: Hart House Reading Room

Price: Free

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

When: Friday, March 14, 8:00-10:00pm

Where: Hart House Activities Room

Price: Free

Scarborough Campus

Community Kitchen 

When: Monday, March 11, 5:00-8:00pm

Where: Room SW313

Price: Free with registration

Edible History (HISB14H3) Pop-Up Restaurant!

When: Wednesday, March 13, 10:00am-4:30pm

Where: Room SW313

Price: Free with registration

Mississauga Campus

UTM World Cup 

When: Wednesday, March 13, 5:00-10:00pm

Where: Gym A/B

Price: $10 per player, $50 per team

Trashion Show

When: Friday, March 15, 5:00-8:00

Where: Blind Duck Pub

Price: Free

Let’s talk about art: six must-sees in March

Present day can seem overwhelmingly bleak, with scary headlines blaring from TV screens and newspapers, and disagreement in every corner. Take a break from the hectic disarray and explore urgent concerns through art – these nuanced perspectives guide viewers in appreciating the negotiation of contemporary issues. From exhibitions to performances and discussions, find beauty in today’s pressing questions.

Add these events to your calendar, you won’t want to miss them.

SHOW: “The Shell” 

How does colonialism, technology, and being a mortal constrain an artist? Questions about the nature of art and the artist play out on stage in this production by the Theatre and Performance Studies program at U of T’s Scarborough campus.

When: Thursday March 14: 8pm-10pm

Cost: $8 Students/Seniors, $10 adults

SHOW: Trashion Show 19’

Fashion and art come together in this show at U of T Mississauga to promote environmental sustainability. See what can be made with re-used and recyclable materials for artwork that is both classy and trashy.

When: Friday March 15: 5pm-8pm

Cost: Free

PANEL: Artistic Ethics in an Age of Social Consciousness 

Arts and culture contribute to social movements – and vice versa. With #MeToo, decolonization efforts, and rampant cancel culture, the intersection of an artists’ talent and morals is often brought into question. Join the Hart House Debates and Dialogues Committee’s discussion, with speakers Quill Christie Peters, Michèle Pearson Clarke, Georgiana Uhlyarik, Indu Vashist, and moderator Gabrielle Moser.

When: Monday March 18: 7pm-8:30pm

Cost: Free

EXHIBITION: Vision Exchange: Perspectives from India to Canada 

Paintings, sculptures, photographs, and more. These works at the Art Museum at U of T make up an exhibition about land and sovereignty, reframing historical narratives, and migration, sharing perspectives that foster dialogue.

When: Wednesday March 20: 6:30pm Exhibition tour with Dr. Deepali Dewan/Exhibition on until March 23.

Cost: Free

EXHIBITION: Trinity Art Show 2019: Statements 

Explore the urgency of art and how it negotiates our personal identities, sociopolitical issues, ideologies, technology, and culture today. See some art and make your mark, with statements about art in interactive curatorial installations.

When: Friday March 29: 6pm-9pm Opening Reception/Saturday March 30 and Sunday March 31: 11am-3pm Exhibition

Cost: Free

EXHIBITION: Ai Weiwei: Unbroken 

Take a trip to the Gardiner Museum to view Ai Weiwei’s unconventional and thought-provoking ceramic works, exploring timely social justice issues including immigration and dissent. While you’re there, see Unswept Floor (Tesserae) by Nurielle Stern, an exhibition in response to themes in Ai Weiwei’s Unbroken.

When: On until June 9

Cost: Free (post-secondary students on Tuesdays) + discounted admission on Fridays

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.

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

DIY: A student’s guide to improving your English

Growing up in Toronto provided ample opportunity to explore different cultures and learn new languages. However, it wasn’t until an experience abroad that I’d learn the art of mastering a new language. The key is to immerse yourself.

For those who, like me, came to Canada from elsewhere or for whom English isn’t a first language, studying at U of T – notorious for its isolationist reputation, jokingly, comparable only to that of Donald Trump’s USA – doesn’t mean you’re doomed to graduate with a flimsy, if not utterly deteriorating, command of the English language.

The U of T community is not isolationist – contrary to popular, albeit, false belief. The choice of isolation is left with individuals. You’re free and encouraged to use the plenitude of campus resources to improve your English.

Better English is, after all, in your hands and it’ll certainly reinvigorate your experience here at U of T; by opening new doors, you’ll begin to see the plethora of possibilities and appreciate the boundless opportunities that Toronto boasts. Improving your English is a sure way to attain a more enriching, interconnected and positive learning experience.

Here are ten tips for improving your English:

1. Change your devices into English – like your phone and computer. Language is like a muscle and with more use the stronger it’ll get.

2. Talk, listen and read in English as much as possible. Switch your social media platforms to English. Make it a rule to communicate only in English, even with fellow expats. Push yourself and others out of the comfort zone and build better English together, that’s the real meaning of socializing anyways.

3. Keep an English vocabulary journal. Make it a daily habit to learn new words by incorporating it as part of your routine.

4. Use words in a variety of contexts so as to build more versatile and robust communication skills.

5. Subscribe to an English language magazine of a personal hobby or interest. Doing so will diversify the breadth of your use and knowledge of English.

6. Except in special cases or emergencies, take on the challenge of speaking only in English for an extended period of time – like for three or six months. This will ensure you’re more fully immersed and improve your English much more quickly.

7. Go over to the Communication Café to strengthen your language abilities and build your confidence for expressing and communicating ideas orally.

8. Try the reading-eWriting program offered by FAS to better improve your reading comprehension and writing skills. They’ll even let you follow the program, if you prefer, using your own course materials.

9. You can also join the free non-credit and no-pressure mini-courses. There’s no homework, they promise!

10. Lastly, make sure to check out the English Language Learning Student Association (ELLSA). They’re an officially recognized student group who host fun social events and are always looking to help those seeking to improve their English. You can also connect with them on Facebook.

Ultimately, English, like any language, is not easy and requires steadfast commitment for its mastery. For new and native-speakers alike, language skills are always a work in-progress. Don’t let yourself get discouraged, remember, however bleak and frozen the middle of winter may seem and feel, like summer, better English will come with time.

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.