Archive | December, 2013

Best. Gift. Ever.

26 Dec

spatula

 University is supposed to make you more mature, right?

Well, never has that fact been more evident to me than right now.

You know you’re getting older when you think that the best Christmas gift you get is a new spatula.

As stupid as it sounds, I can’t wait to get back to school to take it for a test run.

I’m probably going to eat grilled cheese for a week.

 

 

What Am I Still Doing Here?

22 Dec

I should not still be here.

 I should be on my holidays by now…not still holed up in residence, studying.

I should be at home by my Christmas tree stuffing my face with peanut butter balls and shortbread cookies.

 I should be watching Christmas specials on TV and helping my mom wrap presents.

I should be sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace reading “A Christmas Carol.”

And I should definitely have heard my dad complain about how much money Christmas is costing him by now…(it just feels wrong going this long without hearing his usual “Bah Humbug!”)

But no.

I still have one more exam to conquer before I can leave.

BEFORE I’M FINALLY FREE!

But seriously though…

…I’m already packed.

packed

I’ve been soooooo bored the past week.

I had three exams last week and now I have to wait until Wednesday night to write my last one.

That’s a lot of time in there to kill.

And I can’t just spend it studying…I’ll go nuts and my room will get messy again and I’ll end up on an episode of “Hoarders”.

But the problem is, there’s nothing else to really do.

Residence has a 24-hour quiet rule in effect.

It’s getting too cold and snowy to go outside.

What else is left?

Sure, I brave the cold and make a trip to the gym or Timmies every once in a while.

But there are a lot of hours in the day that I have free.

I try to study, but my mind wanders.

I just start thinking about being home for the holidays and how good I’ll feel come Wednesday night when I’m done exams…

Man, that’s gonna be sweet.

picture

I can just see myself after that exam…

I’ll be so relieved. One semester of university will be successfully completed and I will have 3 weeks to just relax.

I’m so happy to have a break from exams and essays that I would gladly accept my holiday vacation time as my Christmas gift this year.

Santa doesn’t have to bring me a thing but peace and quiet!

(It’ll be so much better than that year that

Let’s Take a Moment to Reflect

19 Dec

University has been full of…

 NEW CHALLENGES…

 1

WILDLIFE…

2

MYSTERY…

3

AND CAFFEINE.

4

I’ve seen lots of…

BOOKS…

5

PROFS…

6

AND LATE NIGHTS.

7

All in all, university has been…

CONFUSING…

8

TIRING…

9

DIFFICULT…

10

AND…

11

…TOTALLY WORTH IT!

 

Snow Way…

19 Dec

   snow  

I witnessed the first snowfall of the season a little while ago.

One thing I’ve found about Toronto is that a lot of people seem to like the snow.

There are a lot of students here at UTM from other countries that have never seen it before, so they think it’s “pretty”.

globe

Me, I’ve lived in Canada all my life. So I know the truth about snow.

It’s cold. And wet. And cold. (It’s worth mentioning that twice).

And then there’s ice and freezing rain…which has always particularly annoyed me because it gives me trouble walking.

Yeah, WALKING…something I’ve done quite competently for most of my life. But a little ice and boom…I lose a skill I mastered as a toddler.

And then the snow starts melting and you get that icky slush that ruins your boots.

Oh, and then you also have to shovel that snow.

shovel

Now, I’m going to pretend that I’ve done a whole lot of shoveling in my life (Thanks, Dad).

But now that I’m living in a townhouse-style res at university, I have to shovel my walkway during the winter.

I recently got an email from the Student Housing & Residence Life people reminding me that I would be responsible for keeping that walkway clear (in case of emergency apparently).

The email included tips for safe shoveling. I thought I’d share some of them with you.

“Warm up your muscles before shoveling, by walking for a few minutes or marching in place. Stretch the muscles in your arms and legs, because warm muscles will work more efficiently and be less likely to be injured.”

Ok. Two things:

1. My walkway is about 10 feet long.

2. I’m not getting ready to climb Mount Everest. It would probably take me longer to stretch and warm-up than it would to just scoop up the three shovelfuls of snow on my walkway.

“Pick-up smaller loads of snow. It’s best to shovel by sections. If you are experiencing snowfall levels of 12-inches or higher, take it easy and shovel 2-inches off at a time.”

Only two inches at a time? I feel like they’re assuming I’m weak.

I go to the gym. I work out. I lift weights.

There’s more muscle takin’ up space on my arms than there is snow takin’ up space on my walkway! Hahahaha.…anyways.

Going two inches at a time would turn this 2-minute job into a 10-minute job…and that’s when a small chore turns into manual labour. That’s not what I signed up for.

“Step in the direction that you are throwing snow. This will help prevent the lower back from twisting and will help alleviate any back soreness that you might typically experience the day after a hard shoveling job.”

Ok. Again. “…a hard shoveling job” ??? It’s a short, narrow walkway!

“Listen to your body. Stop if you feel pain or observe heart attack warning signs. These may include chest pain as well as shoulder, neck or arm pain; dizziness, fainting, sweating or nausea; or shortness of breath. If you think you’re having a heart attack, seek medical help immediately.”

Ok, the idea behind this tip makes sense. People do over-exert themselves sometimes when shoveling.

However.

I really don’t think that I needed to be told to “seek medical help” if I think I’m having a heart attack.

But it’s nice to know that university cares about my health.

(If they really cared though, they’d get rid of exams…I’ve experienced more shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, and nausea during tests than I probably ever will while shoveling…)

examstress

Believe it or not, there were a lot more tips on the list than the ones mentioned above.

But I think you get the idea.

So enjoy the snow.

And remember: lift with your legs!

Good Things to Know

19 Dec

I survived my first semester of university.

 Image

Well, minus exams…but I’m going to focus on the positives for now, (i.e. classes are done, I have no more essays to write or presentations to do, and I have some time off to relax).

Looking back at my short time here at UTM, I realize that I’ve learned a few lessons.

Some may seem like they should have been no-brainers, yes.

Some I probably knew before I came to university.

But trust me…until you actually experience something, you don’t really know what good advice is.

So, I think these little lessons I’ve learned are worth sharing.

Here you go:

1. Don’t keep snacks in your room.

 Image

It’s simple: seeing them will cause you to eat them.

Boredom and easily accessible snacks are not a good combination.

There have been many times when I have been studying for way too long, gotten totally unfocused and exhausted, and found my salvation in a bag of Tostitos nacho chips…because they were there, on my desk, right in front of me.

If I had to walk to my kitchen to get them, I probably wouldn’t have eaten the whole bag.

So, keep snacks out of sight.

(Confession: this is horribly hypocritical advice for me to give right now because I’m staring at a box of crackers as I type this blog in my room…)

2. If the professor assigns you an article that he/she has written, it’s a safe bet you will be tested on it.

Similarly, if your TA only covers one topic in tutorial, bet that it’s on the test.

And finally, if your Prof explicitly says that something will be on the test, count on it being on the test.

Too many times I ignored the obvious clues that were dropped to me in lectures and tutorials.

Please, learn from my mistakes.

3. Do your readings the week that they are assigned.

Image Don’t save them all up for the few days before the test…like I always did. It’s unnecessarily stressful.

If you stay on top of things, you won’t have to play catch-up the week of the test.

4. Don’t pull all-nighters to get your work done.

Image

This is a big one.

SLEEP IS GOOD. DON’T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED.

I got very little sleep last week and spent the better part of my weekend napping.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: that sounds like a pretty great weekend.

And it was.

The problem was the fact that I spent the few days leading up to that weekend feeling totally exhausted.

I’m young…I shouldn’t feel tired all the time!

So…major take-away here: SLEEP = GOOD.

5. Know that as soon as you tell yourself that you’re going to start doing homework after this one song or this one video is over, that that one song and video will turn into more, until you’re in your room, munching on crackers and NOT doing anything school-related.

 Oh, it’s happened to me so many times.

That first song that I put on is like a gateway drug…I just end up playing more and more and more and more…until I forget about the work that I actually had to do in the first place.

But I’m not saying that study breaks aren’t important.

Take breaks…just make sure you exercise a little self-control and regulate the length of those breaks.

6. Don’t let your laundry build-up.

Image

Living on res means that I am responsible for washing my own clothes.

And I don’t like to do it very often.

I got really busy in November…and I neglected my bag of dirty clothes sitting in the corner of my room for a few weeks.

Long story short, up until a few days ago, that bag was overflowing with clothing, including my sweaty gym clothes which started to smell.

Gross, I know. So I’m going to start doing at least one load of laundry every couple weeks…it’ll sure save me money on Febreeze, that’s for sure 😉

So there you have it…the little pieces of wisdom that I picked up during my first semester.

If you have any other suggestions or pieces of advice, let me know!

What Does That Say?

19 Dec

I feel like I’m studying my life away.

It’s exhausting.

There’s so much material to get through in university.

And it’s always bothered me how many hours you put in studying tons of content when you will only actually be tested on a very small portion of it.

It’s like when the line for Timmies is so incredibly long that you wait in it for what seems like forever, and you only end up getting a small coffee. You will probably drink that coffee faster than that lined moved.

Or when you go to an amusement park (let’s say Canada’s Wonderland, since I’m in Toronto), and you wait in line for hours to ride a rollercoaster. You wait 2 hours to get on a ride that lasts less than a minute.

Is it worthwhile? I don’t know.

But unfortunately with exams, you can’t just get out of line and get on with your life.

You can’t just NOT write them…unless you want to fail.

All of this goes through my head when I try and study. Yes, my outlook on life gets pretty negative when I get tired.

But last night while reading in my bio textbook, I saw something that at first, confused me, (I had to re-read a few times before I believed it was actually there on the page), but then made me laugh.

I was reading about a mass extinction that happened millions of years ago where over 90% of species were killed….here’s what it said:

Image

Ok…what?

Why’d it have to get personal?

“…it would be like 9 of your 10 best friends dying” ??????

Ok. For one thing, I don’t think I’ve ever been close enough to any animal species on this planet where if they went extinct, it would feel like 9 of my best friends just died.

Secondly, they’re including some early plant and fungi species in that extinction as well. I have never been more attached to a plant or fungi species than my best friends.

I laughed about that to myself for a while…

…then I told myself to stop laughing and get serious again.

But…

I got a little further down the page and read this:

Image

“…but the butler didn’t do it.”

Hahahaha. Wow. I love it.

My textbook’s makin’ jokes.

Best. Study. Break. Ever.

Works Cited

Freeman, S., Harrington, M., and Sharp, J. Biological Science. New Jersey: Pearson, 2011.

What a Mess!

19 Dec

You can certainly tell that it’s exam time around here.

 My house is a mess because all of my available energy is being put towards studying.

Chores are being sorely neglected.

Beds are going unmade…

Laundry is going undone…

Dirty dishes are resting in the sink just hoping…praying…waiting for the day that they will finally be washed and put away!

But judging by the state that my room is in, they’re probably going to be waiting for a while.

Seriously, my room gets priority. It looks like a warzone.

Exhibit A: The Floor.

pic1

You can’t even walk around because there’s so much stuff thrown everywhere.

Why, you ask?

Well, I’ll be lying in bed, reading my notes, when I’ll get fed up and decide to go to sleep. What happens to my notes? They get dropped on the floor.

I’ll take off my socks and after realizing that my laundry basket is full, they’ll end up on the floor.

My shoes, my gym bag, my slippers…on the floor.

When I trip and fall over all the stuff that’s around…where do I end up? On the floor.

But I know what you’re probably wondering:

“Emily, if that’s what your floor looks like, what does your desk look like?”

Exhibit B: The Desk.

pic2

What? A desk is supposed to be used for studying, you say?

Huh. Well, mine is where I keep snacks, clothes, and small bits of garbage.

And now to put it all in perspective…

 Exhibit C: The Big Picture.

pic3

 It reminds me of one of those “I Spy” books. You never know what might be hiding in there.

Man, it’s a good thing I’m not living with my parents cause this mess would not go over too well with them.

But I’m happy to report that I got through 3 of my 4 exams, so I did some cleaning the other day.

Here are all the food/drink items that I collected from my desk and floor:

pic4

You can tell that I’ve been holed up in my room for a while.

But, they’ve since all been cleared away…and check it out:

pic5

My desk is finally being used in the way that it was always supposed to be!

And finally, here’s the floor:

pic6

Shoes are lined up neatly, bed is made, there’s a clear path so I can walk without tripping over random stuff…

Oh yeah. That’s better.

Now if only I could find a way to make my room STAY this clean for longer than a day…