To the Nervous Non-Resident

So, it’s mid summer. You’ve spent much of your time since infancy researching all of the most prestigious universities on the Eastern Seaboard, and at long last, you have settled on Trinity College University, within the University of Toronto. Congrats.

You, in anticipation of Frosh Week, that solemn and time-honoured hebdomad of serious festivities, have:

  1. stocked up on dat business casual attire #PantsuitRainbow
  2. started trying to engage your country club’s sommelier on all topics wine and fine cheese related in preparation of high tables and Trin Review parties.
  3. you have looked up the word hebdomad
  4. you have googled, “Trinity college IT8, meaning ?”
  5. you have combed through each and every Trinity related wikipedia article known to man. Check out the flashcards.

In short, you know everything there is to know about our esteemed College. You are:

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And discuss the finer points of the Ukrainian crisis over a tannic Burgundy in a ‘robe.’ (It’s a gown). Great job. One problem. You don’t live here. Now what?

I get it. You’re super nervous. It’s exactly how I felt last year in anticipation of non-res life. You want to be just another Trinity College student, you’re just trying to enjoy the finer things of college life. And the Toronto Transit Commission is out to thwart you at every turn. To you right now, it’s just another potential problem lurking beneath the dewy glow of university life, as ominous and loomingly large as POL101. Don’t worry. Commuter anxiety is very common for incoming students anywhere. Good for you though, that you happen to have chosen the best possible academic institution for commuter students just about anywhere. In my opinion, but you can trust it. Troubled, you ask, ‘but aren’t the vast majority of the 47000 U of T students not housed in university residence? Where do they all go after frosh week? Deep dark holes in the ground?’ Maybe. But they don’t go to Trinity.

Alright, I’m mostly kidding. Naturally, I can’t speak for all commuters. Some may indeed live in deep dark holes in the ground (have you seen Bathurst and Harbord?). I can’t even speak for all the ones at Trin. But I can definitely tell you a bit about my experience as a first year non-resident student. Here are the problems I stressed over last summer, and how they worked themselves out.

Problem #1: How do I hang out in residence common rooms before events, or for unofficial parties?

Solution: Befriend resident students in your year. If you (like I did, and like you should) participate in the non-residence hosting program during frosh week, where you’re partnered up with another first year to sleep on their floor for the week, this will be very easy. They are friendly and obliging, and will let you in whenever you ask them. Failing this, befriend a student head (see the 1T8 facebook page for more details on who they are). Their numbers are common knowledge, and are always happy to help a brotha/sista out. One text, and a door, both figuratively and literally, is opened for you.

 Problem #2: Wait, there are parties at this place? How am I supposed to know when they’re happening?

Solution: If you pay attention to my first point, usually this isn’t so hard to figure out. Failing this, we have this nifty thing called ‘Trin This Week,” a convenient weekly email courtesy of your Heads of Arts, which details all the events, meetings, parties, etc etc that are happening during any given week. You can sign up for this on the trin life website. Also, stay connected through social media. The 1T8 group will be the hub for most information during the year.

Problem #3: I want to be around Trinity during the day, but where am I supposed to go other than the library?

Solution: There are so many social hotspots, and good places to study around Trin that don’t require a residence key. Have a lunch break between classes? Head over to Strachan Hall, you have fifteen free meals, or the ability to flaunt your lovely packed lunch before all your poor jealous resident friends. Want a place to pretend to do your Trin One readings? The Junior Common Room (JCR) is your spot. Don’t be intimidated by the occasional puppy pen (two couches pushed together with blankets and usually a smuggled load of Strachan cookies) of hysterical upper years working on their grad school applications and crying. They’re really nice, I promise. Need crypt-like silence? Steadman Library in St. Hilda’s will do nicely. Not to mention Melinda Seaman Hall, the Buttery where you can get to the singularly excellent Non-Residence Common Room, or the plain old Quad. The possibilities are endless.

 Problem #4: The subway closes at 1:30, the parties don’t really start until 11, and I’m commuting from Iqaluit.

Solution: Rent a locker on campus (talk to the bursar’s office, you pay $30 for it there), keep a sleeping bag in it, refer to my first solution, and you’ll never have to worry. This is where the hosting program comes in handy after Frosh Week. Usually, the frosh exec pairs you well personality-wise based on a survey we have you take (which will become available later in the summer). I’m still very close with the girl I roomed with at the beginning of last September, and chances are, they’ll always be willing to offer their floor to a friend in need.

 Problem #5: What if I make no friends and never end up participating in the Trin community?

Solution: I know this worry is on your mind. Sounds harsh, but I know it was there for me this time last year. First, it’s not going to happen. The best thing about this place is that it brings together so many people of different backgrounds, programs, interests, and aspirations all in one place. And it is so small that everyone ends up getting to know everyone else, no matter what their year, program, or residence. You all deserve to be here, and there is something for absolutely everyone. Not to even begin mentioning the amazing opportunity that is Frosh Week, we have clubs, student societies, sports teams, outings, events, other miscellaneous traditions… Basically if we don’t have it, you can make it. Go to a Trinity College Meeting, which happen frequently on Monday nights, tell them you want a preliminary budget, and why (it’s slightly more complicated than that, be sure to check trinlife.net). Feeling lonely in the absolutely gigantic space of the greater U of T? Come to a high table on Wednesdays. Stay for the Lit debate. Pick what you’re interested in from Trin This Week. The people are there, and they are nice, and they are just waiting to meet and like you.

So with all of these challenges to non-residence life, there must be some good parts, no? Indeed there are. First, home cooked food. You my friends will not only forgo the freshmen fifteen, but you can watch your classmates pick apart their questionable-looking ‘beef’ tacos, while you munch cheerfully on a healthy and delicious packed lunch. Satisfying in more ways than one. Second, your bed will always be more comfortable and spacious than theirs. Third, it’s a little appreciated luxury to close your door and put a little bit of distance between you and the sometimes potent, and exuberant Trinity community. It’s ok to want to take a break sometimes. You have a shut-off button if it ever gets to be too much for one week. The perks are great and you’ll find many of your own, so enjoy them. You’re getting the best of both worlds.

So, all in all, these are the opportunities. They’re pretty awesome, but there’s one small catch. They’re just opportunities. And they mean nothing until you take the next step. So put yourself out there, nervous non-res frosh. Don’t worry so much. Everyone is rooting for you to succeed. And you will. Be persistent, be friendly, be you. At the end of the day, we all go to Trinity. On a final note though, I can’t stress enough how much you should come to Frosh Week. Apart from being more fun than just about anything else you’ve ever done, it is informative, it’s an opportunity to make new friends, to start over, or keep on going, it’s your moment to realize, with what will be an overwhelming and ineffable sense of relieved excitement, that you’re about to start some of the best years of your life. You’ve got a bright future ahead of you, trust me. Don’t let a daily trip on the subway stop you.

By: Emily Brade

 

Mental Health Resources at U of T

Transitioning into life as a university student can be a tumultuous adjustment for some. You’re entering into an unfamiliar institution, perhaps living in a new place, surrounded by hundreds of new faces and an influx of foreign and confusing information. For those of us who are not generally low-stress, this can feel like the kind of nightmare that you wake from in a cold sweat. Sometimes, the stress and anxiety that the combination of these things causes is too much. Your mental health may suffer. If you find that this is the case and you’re unable to deal with the pressure on your own, there are a lot of resources available to you as a U of T student that it’d be wise to take advantage of.

1) CAPS – Counselling and Psychological Services at the University of Toronto. Located in the Koffler Centre (the building where the bookstore and the health clinic are also housed), CAPS is notorious for a very, very long wait list. This is partially due to a shortage of staff and resources available for the massive population of students who are seeking guidance. With mental health finally breaking into the forefront of Canadian society, it seems as though we are in a transition – ill-equipped to deal with mental health needs but recognizing its growing importance. CAPS is no exception to this rule. CAPS also moves students who are at less risk (see: general feelings of uncomfortability, body image issues) lower down on the waitlist as more serious cases come rolling in (self-harm, suicidal thoughts and tendencies, immediate anger issues). The bottom line is: if you wish to reach out to CAPS, you’ll likely have a phone or in-person consultation, in which after they assess your risk, you might have a longer or shorter time waiting for help based on your particular circumstances. If you can find help elsewhere, then do. They are overloaded.
Visit: http://caps.utoronto.ca/main.htm

2) Counseline – Onsite + Online counselling. For those who might be too shy or too socially anxious to receive face-to-face counselling, Counseline offers an online chat-based type of therapy session. Run through the Faculty of Social Work, the in-person sessions offered by Counseline are conveniently steps away from Trinity Proper and St. Hilda’s, sitting in an unassuming building right beside the Bloor-Bedford Tim Hortons. Counseline is quick to gain entry into, and most have found it very useful. Sessions can be booked for once a week, or once every two weeks (an hour long at a time).
Visit: http://healthandwellness.utoronto.ca/pdfs/CounselineFlyer2012.aspx

3) Green Dot – If you feel as if you’ve been taken advantage of sexually or been a victim of partner violence, Green Dot is an excellent resource to get you the attention that you need and deserve. Visit: http://healthandwellness.utoronto.ca/GreenDot/Where-can-I-get-help.htm

4) The Dean of Students – The office of the Dean of Students at Trinity are comprised of a remarkable group of people – Dean Johnathan Steels and Assistant Dean Adam Hogan (let’s not forget the Dean’s assistant, Kiran :)). Scheduling an e-mail with a member of the team is as easy as sending an e-mail. With a genuine and vested interest in the students at Trin, Adam and Jonathan make time in their busy schedules to connect frightened or frustrated students with the right resources unique to the situation. In any situation where students feel overloaded, these gentlemen are available as a bridge between you and the help that you might need. There are also several dons that live on the property who can be excellent resources to students who are struggling with mental health issues. Email deanofstudents@trinity.utoronto.ca or call 416-978-3612.

The most important takeaway from all of this is that there are several paths that have been made available to you, as a University of Toronto student, to ensure your health and happiness is looked after. You deserve to be listened to and helped. It is only human to not feel perfectly well all of the time – and that is why a lot of these programs have been put into place. If you ever feel like it’s all getting to be a little bit too much, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. It is the mark of a smart person to watch out for their health – and that includes physical as well as mental. Around the college and in the whole of UofT, there are people who want to see you thrive. The only thing standing in the way of you and your happiness is a couple of steps in the right direction. I’ve gotten started on compiling the information for you, and now it’s up to you to use it – and use it you should.

By: Marissa Martins

So You’re Staying in Residence.

This time last year, I remember running to the mailbox everyday, eagerly awaiting my residence letter. Where would I be living first year? Would I have a roommate? I hoped the answers I put down on that residence application were well thought out enough. I put semi-social, should I have put social? Will that make a big difference, being on a social floor? I said I hate noise – will they put me on a quiet floor? But wait, I said that I make a lot of noise. The real question was: SHOULD I HAVE PUT DOWN THAT I FALL ASLEEP AT 12 ON WEEKDAYS INSTEAD OF 1???

Finally, after much stress, the envelope arrived in the mail. I ripped it open immediately, and scanned through the first few sentences.

Single. 315 Main. St. Hilda’s.

‘Single’? Thank God. I like having my own space. ‘St. Hilda’s’? Damn. I really wanted to be in Trinity Proper. ‘Main’? What the hell is Main? Main building? Were there other St. Hilda’s buildings? Was it a spelling error? What did it mean?

And most importantly,

Should I be worried???

Looking back, I shouldn’t have been so stressed. No matter where you end up living, you still have access to all the same Trinity rooms and buildings. There are perks to living in St. Hilda’s, and others to living in Trinity Proper. St. Hilda’s perks include kitchens on each floor, generally larger room sizes, a much better heating system and ample study/lounge areas (such as the green roof!), while Trin Proper perks include proximity to Strachan Hall, the JCR (Junior Common Room – you’ll spend lots of time here), proximity to Strachan Hall, and most importantly, proximity to Strachan Hall. What can I say, food is a very important part of your college experience, and Strachan cookies (which you will soon discover are HEAVENLY) go quickly.

As for ‘Main,’ both Trin Proper and St. Hilda’s are split up into different houses. Main, Orchard/No-Name, Rowlinson, Massey, and Kirkwood are the Stildian houses, while Trinity Proper boasts the Whitaker, Welch, Cosgrave, Body, Henderson, Owen, Seager, Angel’s Roost, and Macklem, houses. Don’t worry if you have absolutely no idea where any of these are during frosh week. Or during the first few months of the year for that matter. Heck, I’m just now figuring out where everything is, and it’s been almost a year since I first wandered into the wrong door while trying to find a friend’s room.

Single or double, you’ll still enjoy your time in residence. I loved having my single room. It gave me a place to come home to that was my own space. You don’t have to worry about it being difficult to make friends while living in a single – the majority of rooms in both St. Hilda’s and Trinity Proper are single rooms, so tons of people are in the same boat. Conversely, I had friends who absolutely loved living with a roommate. They became amazing friends, and wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. Others were completely indifferent towards their roommate. That’s okay too. The benefit of this is that you can both have your quiet time together in the room, without feeling pressured to chat and share clothes and have pillowfights. Realistically, the amount of time you spend in your room is minimal. Between classes and studying and friends, it’s a place to sleep at night. Your room can be what you make of it.

The point of my post is this: don’t worry. Wherever you end up, you will still have the same Trinity experience as everyone else. And yes, unfortunately that experience includes no air conditioning. So pack a fan (or two) and load up your parents’ truck with suitcases and pictures and all those books that you’ll realistically never have time to read during the year but will look totally impressive on your bookshelf, and get ready for the adventure that is living in residence. You’ll love it, I promise.

By: Sam Kokonis

Trinity Athletics (No, not an oxymoron)


Believe it or not, Trinity is a very sporty college! This past year alone we won three intramural banners: strong female participation in athletics, most overall points in women’s intramural athletics, and most overall points in men’s intramural athletics. Plus, numerous teams won several intramural championships (division one, no less… Other teams be ‘mirin).

Excited yet? We are here to give you incoming first years the 101 for getting involved in Trinity, and U of T’s sports.

U of T provides sports teams on three different levels, from most competitive to least competitive: Varsity (competition between universities), Tri-Campus (competition between U of T’s three campuses) and Intramural (competition between faculties and colleges).
For lists of teams you can join, check out http://www.uoftintramurals.ca/ for Tricampus and Intramural, and http://www.varsityblues.ca/ for Varsity.

Being a college, Trinity competes at an intramural level, and that’s where we (Caroline and Sam) come in. Caroline is the president of the Saint Hilda’s Athletic Association (a.k.a SHAA, pronounced as you would read it phonetically). That awesome team is in charge of coordinating all women’s and co-ed sports. Sam leads the Trinity College Athletic Association (TCAA, pronounced T C double A), and that fantastic team coordinates all the men’s teams. Being involved with Trinity’s intramural teams is both lots of fun and a really important part of your undergraduate degree. It is a fantastic way to meet new people (especially super cool upper years), unwind, and develop a new skill. While most teams are competitive, very few have cuts. Therefore, anyone should feel welcome to join a team and learn a sport for the very first time!

To get involved with Trinity Intramural teams is really easy. Teams usually have one game a week in the evenings, and sometimes one additional practice. Each semester is a “season” and there are playoffs and championships. Don’t worry about signing up for teams until Frosh Week. During clubs day, there will be a booth where you can sign up for any and all teams. If you miss us at the clubs fair though, not to worry! You can just e-mail trinathletics @gmail.com

SHAA and TCAA however do many other awesome things you will want to know about. During the semester, we organize outings like subsidized trips to Toronto Raptors Basketball Games and Toronto Blue Jays Games; we have a big dance during the first week of January; we organize an Athletic banquet (complete with team awards and major awards); and we design and take orders for Trinwear (all apparel that shows Trin pride).

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This summer SHAA/TCAA members along with the help of other students at Trinity have been leading a $40,000 renovation for Trinity’s gym, as well as designing jerseys for all of our intramural teams.

That’s all we are going to say for now…there have to be a few surprises.
Hopefully you are excited as we are for another fantastic year for Trinity’s sports! If you do have a question, e-mail us at trinathletics@gmail.com

- Caroline Leps & Sam Wamsley
Presidents of SHAA and TCAA

Direct Democracy: What is the TCM?

Hi everyone, my name is Kaleem Hawa (1T6) and I will be serving as the Chair of our student government here at Trinity this year.

The Trinity College Meeting (TCM) is Trinity’s highest body of student government. The executive organization of the TCM is comprised of a Chair (myself), Treasurer (Reid Dobell), and Secretary (Tracy Wang) who help ensure smooth delivery of programming.

Unlike most student governments, the TCM is a direct democracy where every student can bring forward motions, speak, and vote. This makes Trinity unique because we are the only college in North America whose student governance is conducted by a body of which all the College’s students are members, rather than by an elected student council.

In terms of responsibilities, the TCM oversees and approves the work of various committees at the College including the Finance Committee, the Board of Stewards, the Student Government Review Committee (SGRC), the Electoral Commission (EC), and others.

This means it is directly responsible for setting the social calendar for the year, accepting club mandates, reviewing and amending student government documents, funding student clubs, and holding our annual student elections.

If this seems intimidating, it shouldn’t. I encourage all students to come out, participate, and learn. For the 2014-2015 academic year, we will be aiming to supply food at all TCMs and fund the occasional post-TCM pub night.

Sententia ut coetus dimittatur simper licet. | A motion to adjourn is always in order.

Kaleem Hawa, Class of 2016

This would only happen at Trinity…

Dear Frosh,

Congratulations. In choosing to attend Trinity, you have become members of what is, in my humble yet completely biased opinion, the finest community of higher education in Canada. It is my hope that the information contained in the Trinlife Handbook will excite and inspire you over the summer, and provide a glimpse into what the next school year holds for you. Information on student life is intended to be as accessible as possible to incoming students. However, it is the intangibles – those quirky, witty and sharp moments, moments in which the phrase “This would only happen at Trinity…” is the only apt suffix – that define long lasting memories of an academic year.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve had conversations with fellow students or alumni, attended lectures and events or simply run into a student furiously reciting Shakespeare from memory (in preparation for the Dramatic Society’s Shakespeare in the Quad), only to leave saying, “This would only happen at Trinity…” Trinity is a storied institution and, as such, an alumni example seems like an appropriate one to give. I recently met with alumni from the Class of 5T5 (1955), one of whom told me that when the Governor General visited them at Trinity, instead of laying down a red carpet, students threw rolls of toilet paper at him – much to the Provost’s dismay! The alumnus later commented, “It was Trinity humor… There’s something unique about it.”

Today, the experiences that make Trinity unique continue to pervade the College’s halls. Trinity is a college that prides itself on community. Student relationships are based on trust and a healthy sense of challenging each other to be better. This plays out most clearly in the conversations that you will have in kitchenettes, laundry rooms, common rooms and Strachan Hall over the next four years. In my first year, I repeatedly found myself up till the early hours of the morning, having conversations on questions of identity, artificial intelligence, time and space, and purpose. I’ll admit that I enjoy philosophy. Yet, the fact that conversations like these are taking place speaks to what our undergraduate careers should be about – exploration, engagement and discovery. And every time I depart from a moment with the words “This would only happen at Trinity…” in the back of my mind, I know that process of exploration is being allowed to flourish.

An example of another ‘Trinity moment’ that has stuck with me comes from a recent conversation I had with two close friends, Connor and Julia. Both of them are well versed on issues of philosophy, ethics and psychology. The dinner conversation in Strachan Hall was on a thought experiment – the Chinese Room Argument by John Searle, which is one of the widely credited counters to claims of artificial intelligence (again with the philosophy, I know – I need to diversify!). What started off with Julia holding forth on the syllabus material for a class I considered taking ended up being a heated, yet amicable, debate on whether Searle’s argument had any merit! And this was followed by several YouTube video consultations. I left fascinated, with that oh so familiar phrase bouncing around my head – “This would only happen at Trinity…”

This blog post is not to say that ordinary, everyday conversations or experiences aren’t as enriching or entertaining. Whether it’s a friend telling you about a new band or art exhibit, checking out a new restaurant that has “the best tacos ever, bro,” collectively complaining about essay season or gathering in a common room to yell at your favorite hockey team – all the experiences you will have at Trinity will shape you in one way or another. There will be ordinary moments. There will be extraordinary moments. And, if you keep your mind open and seek out new people and new ideas, there will be those moments where you lean back on your chair in Strachan Hall after a stirring conversation, glance at the portraits of provosts and patriarchs, and with a grin on your face, think, “This would only happen at Trinity…”

By: Aditya Rau

 

Surviving Toronto as an International Student

Toronto can be a pretty intimidating place to move to if you haven’t been to Canada previously. I had no idea what to expect despite having watched almost every single episode of How I Met Your Mother because Robin Scherbatsky seemed to epitomize the typical Canadian. Unfortunately, I was not quite prepared for the Great White North so hopefully this little list will help you Brady brunch of multicontinental passports find your footing.

Tips for Surviving Toronto as an International Student:

1. The Attire

Plaid. Just pack plaid. The day that I walked into Strachan Hall only to be told that I looked like a lumberjack was the first day that I felt like I truly belonged.

2. The Direction Debacle

Say goodbye to the days of good old left, right, forwards and backwards. All Torontonians seem to be born with a compass in their heads and will just hit you up with a bunch of compass points when asked for directions. Rumour has it that the CN Tower is always South if you ever find yourself in a sticky geographical situation.

3. The Currency

Welcome to the world of Looneys and Tooneys. When you figure it out let me know.

4. The Double Double

This will quickly become a student staple for your late night study trips to Tim Hortons. If, like me, your first trip to Timmies is when you are in a sleep deprived state it might help you to know that this ambiguous title is Torontonian for coffee that will caffeinate some life into your GPA.

5. Kegs are real!

Hello movie moment! I still can’t take myself seriously when I am standing in a frat house drinking beer from red and white plastic cups. Expect to be looking around for the cast of High School Musical permanently.

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6. Maple Syrup

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this condiment should be reserved for pancakes as opposed to being poured liberally over all things edible. In fact, I would recommend dabbing two drops behind your ears in order to make friends in Frosh Week.

7. Authority Comes in all Forms

Moose, men, horses. Whenever you are feeling slightly delinquent beware of all of the above. In all earnesty, I have been in search of a Mounty for a while now so if you find one hola at a girl because I am still looking to take the quintessential ‘Moved to Canada/Here is my Mounty’ selfie.

8. Snow

This is by far one of my favourite things about Canada. Granted, white Christmases are a novelty which takes some time getting used to but nothing beats feeling like you are permanently frolicking in a large snow globe.

9. The Definition of ‘Eh’

Personally, I find this a useful syllable if there is ever an awkward silence at the end of a sentence. I have yet to figure out the exact definition but sometimes I like to try and blend in by chucking a cheery ‘eh’ in at the end of the occasional statement, question or exclamation. Often it can be used as an alarm bell to signal that you are about to be offered a doughnut in true Canadian fashion.

10. Come to Frosh Week

As a fellow international student this is probably the single most important piece of advice that I can give you. Not only does it provide an excellent opportunity for you to meet new people it also allows you to familiarize yourself with the university, city and culture. Get those tickets booked early so that you can come and experience a little bit of Toronto before work starts piling up. At the very least, it will give people some time to get used to your accent so that they can actually understand what you are saying! Feel free to send me an email, or message me on Facebook, if you have any questions.

By: Kim Skead