The Disney Sing-Along Series -Part 1

Hey readers! My blog is about to get a bit fancier, because I will now be making one of my weekly posts as vlogs (video blogs).  You can watch them here, or on YouTube, and be sure to let me know what you think! I hope you’re not tired of my parodies, yet.  If you are, I get it.  I’m tired, too. In general. So much, in fact, that I made that the topic of my first vlog, which you can see right here.

Enjoy 🙂

10 Ways You Know It’s Winter In Canada

When I go back to the US, I always get questions about Canada, and especially about Canadian winter. Here are the top ten things that have been making me say “You know it’s Canadian winter when…”

    1. You get excited about the fact that the weather is going to be nicer as soon as it hits the 20s (Fahrenheit; about -6 ◦C).
    2. You tunnel your way through a bunch of long, winding corridors and hallways to avoid being outside when you need to get from class to class.  Meerkats of UTM.meerkats
    3. It takes longer to get ready as you put on protective armor before your daily battle… with the freezing cold. Thermal. Sweater/Fleece/Sweatshirt. Coat. Scarf. Gloves. Fuzzy socks. Winter boots.  That’s a solid 5 minutes that you could have spent sleeping back in the fall.
    4. You have to make the difficult temperature choice each day. Spend another year or so taking off all of that winter gear at the start of lecture (and another putting it back on at the end), or melt into a puddle in the overheated lecture halls?
    5. A seriously depressing moment in your day is if your scarf (or your gloves) falls somewhere wet with snow that got dragged inside. I mean, I guess I can just freeze.
    6. The snow is extremely glittery. New Jersey’s snow doesn’t look like it came from Ke$ha’s makeup kit.
      kesha
    7. You don’t even bother hoping for a snow day anymore. Probably not going to happen.  Ever.
    8. Your life is filled with hot beverages. “Caution: Hot.”  -No problem, I’ll just stick this in that giant freezer that most people call “outside”.
    9. Nonessential trips = no. Sorry, I would love to stick around and chat out in the cold, but what can I say?  Blankets await.
    10. You constantly remind yourself to keep your eye on the prize. Four. Months. Of. Summer. Vacation.

olaf

A Sonnet for Tim Hortons (And Just Generally Cafes On Campus)

(Original poem: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” or “Sonnet 43” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I love Timmies? Let me count the ways.

I love thee by thy scent and warmth and sight

My soul revived in morn, when my lover (Sleep) and I fight,

And thy gentle steam swirls surround my face.

I love thee for thy motherly role each day,

Most deep needs cared for with each bite.

I love thy comfort, when exams bring fright;

I love thy taste – timeless, without phase.

I love thee with each TCard use,

My inability to cook has brought us near;

I love thee with a love I can never lose,

With thy loveliness, thee mustn’t even fear.

Smiles from your employees confirm what I choose,

I shall but love thee each day of each year.

 

But seriously, the people that are working at every food place on campus work really hard and deserve special thanks from all of us. The joys and comfort that coffee, ridiculously delicious donuts, and other food items bring us are things that we can experience because there are people that are spending time and serving it to us, often with big smiles and a lot of cheer despite how tired they might be. Be sure to thank these lovely people with smiles, too!

How To Get To Know A New Place

It’s been four months since I first came to UTM, and I think it’s safe to say that by now I know most of our campus pretty well. But UTM’s campus wasn’t the only place that was new to me in September; I didn’t know much about Mississauga or downtown Toronto, either. Now that I know UTM’s campus well, it’s time to explore more of the areas around it. How do you effectively explore a new place when you’re new, you’re busy with school, and it’s really cold out? Here’s what I’ve found to work best:

  1. Grab a buddy.  If you go to an event, you don’t have to worry about it being awkward or getting lost (or at least, not getting lost by yourself).  Going with someone ensures that you’ll actually do it instead of putting it off to be lazy.  The best part?  You and your friend will probably end up with lots of great memories after.  Trust me, every trip I’ve taken with one of my friends ended up being a crazy adventure with times when other people probably thought we were crazy for how much we were laughing.
  2. Make a bucket list! When I was trying to explore campus, another one of my friends and I would make a list of things to do.  This list could be places to see, like the pond near the principal’s house or the “dungeon” of Davis, or it may be specific tasks, like going to try something from every food place on campus.  We never actually wrote the list down, and we tried to keep reminding ourselves every time we met up about what we hadn’t yet crossed off the mental list.  That worked because our list only had a few things on it at a time, and we added to it as other things were completed.  If you’ve got a longer list, you should probably write it down.
  3. Set some dates and times. The bucket list worked for my friend and me because we would say “Oh, we still have to do ___.  Wanna do it after class Friday?” If that didn’t work out, we would reschedule.  If you actually pick a date and time, you’re more likely to actually do it.  If you don’t, chances are that you’ll forget about it.
  4. Look for events. Sometimes exploring is easier and less awkward when you have a purpose.  Keep your eyes open for events happening at times when you don’t have class (and hopefully your buddy won’t either).  With a very nice library on our campus, I probably wouldn’t have gone to see one of Mississauga’s public libraries if I hadn’t gone for one of their free science lectures in December.  The event gave me a reason to go to the library… and see a bit of the area around it on an adventure of trying to catch the right bus back while trying not to turn into a Popsicle.
  5. Get seriously excited and enjoy every moment.  Because if you don’t then what’s the point?

Well, what are you waiting for? You’re already on the internet, so go ahead and find some cool new places to explore! Maybe I’ll even see you around, taking my advice.

The Soft-Ness Monster

It’s still only the beginning of the new semester, but for some, things may already seem overwhelming. The cold doesn’t help, either. When temperatures go sledding down steep hills and the sun decides to hit the snooze button longer than a lot of people can afford to, things can seem pretty miserable. Complaints about commutes, fear of getting sick, and post-holiday blahs are everywhere, and I totally get it. But life goes on and we go with it; all we can really do is find little ways to make things a little better each day. You need things that comfort.

What do you think of when you hear the word comfort? It’s often associated with “comfort food”, but different people find comfort in different things. In the not-so-easy transition last semester and continuing now, I’ve been surrounding myself with something that comforts me: things that are soft. I didn’t entirely realize it until recently, but it’s true. Soft/fuzzy socks, slippers, robes, fleeces, thermals, and blankets have taken over my dorm room. I’m the “soft-ness” monster and thrive on my obsession with the warmth and delicate sensation of soft clothing on my skin. It’s one of the best feelings ever to get back to my dorm after class and feel like my clothes are hugging me to make me feel better about the yucky way a lot of us are feeling right now.

Of course, there are other things that bring comfort. Warm showers after you’ve been out in the cold or having your room smell like someone’s baking something all the time are also helpful. Maybe it’s a fun activity, or a particular person you love talking to. Maybe it’s watching TV or just being really lazy once in a while. Whatever it may be, it’s something that you should find for yourself. On days when you feel like you just can’t, surrounding yourself with whatever comforts you might be just the little rejuvenation you need to motivate yourself.

What kind of comfort monster are you?

Into the Term

Into the term

It’s time to go

With papers to write

And texts to read

Into the term

With lecture notes

And Profs to lead the journey

Welcome back, readers! New year, new term. Vacation felt short, as vacations tend to do, but we’re all back now in 2015 for a fresh start. At least, that’s what it feels like to me. All of my classes are half-year so the first week back has been like a repeat of September. But this time, I wasn’t sick (thankfully!) and I wasn’t going in having no idea what to expect. I didn’t feel like a first year anymore but I didn’t feel like a second year student yet either, so I guess that puts me at a year 1.5 student. Some things are under control, but other things still can feel daunting.

The lines at the start of this post are my own university-themed rendition of Into the Woods. I really enjoyed watching the movie over break, and, as usual, I’ve found ways that it connects to life as a first year student.

Some of the lyrics are: “I have no fear/Nor no one should/The woods are just trees/The trees are just wood”. I guess textbooks are just trees, too, but they can be pretty terrifying. Especially when your readings have about 30 pages each for 3 different textbooks due tomorrow. When you’re first back from break and still in vacation mode, that’s a task you would rather not have to face, but you end up having to do it anyway. For me, the first week back has consisted mainly of these activities: sleeping, reading, going to lectures, and occasionally eating (and with that, occasional Netflix). Getting back to a routine is hard, but at least it’s easier than getting into said routine, as we had to in September.

Anyway, the plot of Into the Woods is relevant to frosh life, too.

WARNING: here begin spoilers for Into the Woods, for those who don’t know the story.

Basically, following some serious plot twists, the fairytale characters didn’t end up with the “Happily Ever After”s that we all know and love. Still, all of the characters who endured losses stuck together for a new beginning. What does that have to do with university life? We have finished a term recently and are getting results back. How did you do? Well, it doesn’t really matter now. It’s in the past and it’s gone. But if you faced disappointment at not getting what you had hoped for, either in university or in some other part of your life, just remember that this is 2015 and this is a new beginning. One of my favorite poems is If by Rudyard Kipling, in which he says “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster/And treat those two imposters just the same” and “If you can make one heap of all your winnings/And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss/And lose, and start again at your beginnings/And never breathe a word about your loss”. It’s a lot easier to quote inspirational ideas than to practice them, but at the start of this new year, it’s best to keep inspiration in your heart and to try to throw every yucky, sad, twisted issue of 2014 into the past.

Hope your new year treats you well 🙂

Student in Wonderland

Hello. My name is Student, and I seem to be stuck in University Wonderland. It’s a strange and scary place, really. There are these little bits–I’ve heard some call them “Information”–that do bizarre things. They tell me to consume them and, when I do, some seem to grow my brain so much that it feels it will burst from my head and others seem to shrink my brain so much that it seems possible that it has ceased to even exist. There is a cat named “Exam” who appears suddenly with a much-too-big smile that seems, at once, both smug and condescending. There is also a caterpillar who smokes hookah and calls himself “Term Paper”. When I attempt to pass him, he asks perplexing questions and keeps blowing smoky disorienting rings in my face. For a long time, I’ve had to play croquet with a rather rude queen named “Procrastination” who constantly threatens to do away with my head!

As you can see, it has been exhausting and confusing trying to find my way through this place. I explained it all to my therapist, a woman who always seems to understand and knows how to put it all into words. Her name is Taylor Swift, and she recently wrote a song incorporating parts of my journey that has truly helped me deal with it all. Today, I want to use her song, Wonderland, to help explain my troubles:

“…nothing’s as it seems and spinning out of control” – I thought I was in a place of endless possibility and that I could handle it all, but I didn’t know about these twists and turns along the way.

“Haven’t you heard what becomes of curious minds?/Didn’t it all seem new and exciting” – I am responsible for being here, because it was my own curious mind that led me to University Wonderland. Being able to learn new things and the idea of starting a whole new phase of life made the idea of being here “new and exciting” and quite irresistible.

“It’s all fun and games ‘til somebody loses their mind” – Queen Procrastination only threatens to sever my head and mind, but I have seen many who lost the croquet game actually lose their minds to her.

“I reached for you but you were gone” – “You” here is my sanity, naturally.

“I knew I had to go back home” – It seems to me that the only way I can ever recover from the roller coaster that is Wonderland is going home and getting away from it all for a while.

“And in the end, in Wonderland/We both went mad” – I have lost my mind so many times here that I have begun to wonder if I ever had it in the first place. Perhaps this is madness.

And of course, The Chorus:

“We found Wonderland, you and I got lost in it/And we pretended it could last forever” – Getting lost in a place so wondrous and new is so very easy to do! But the excitement and giddiness of something new soon wore off as I came to meet the strange characters I mentioned before.

“And life was never worse but never better” – Wonderland has been frightening, bewildering, and often quite peculiar, but I thrive on curiosity and at no other time of my life have I been able to connect so much of this new knowledge and have so many moments each week where my mind is absolutely blown. Despite everything, University Wonderland is, indeed, quite wonderful.