U of T life hacks for the New Year (and beyond)

Photo of students in a snowball fight
If the opportunity arises, be sure to take part in an epic snowball fight (photo by Johnny Guatto)

The first weeks after the holidays are a good time to make a fresh start. And at U of T, there are plenty of people and services to help you hit the ground running.

Here are just a few of them:

Get assigned readings for free thanks to U of T Libraries

Check out  U of T Libraries’ Zero-to-Low Cost Course project – it's taking some of the sting out of paying for course packs by helping students and professors source their reading materials for free electronically. The program is estimated to have saved students more than $400,000 since 2015. 

Read more about U of T’s zero-to-low cost course project

Learn your way around the library with a personal librarian 

It can be a challenge to navigate U of T's library system, the third-largest in North America with 19.3 million physical holdings. To help new students find their way around, U of T Libraries connects them with personal librarians by email. They email first-year students useful library-related tips, including pointers for studying for finals.

About 6,000 first-year students in the Faculty of Arts & Science and Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering enrolled in the program this year. 

“If students have questions and they don’t know whom to reach out to, this gives them a helping hand and lets them know there are supports and services out there that they may not have known existed,” said Heather Buchansky, student engagement librarian at U of T. 

If you’re not a new student, you can still get tips on using the library at service desks during drop-in hours or by chatting with librarians online.

Student engagement librarian Heather Buchansky (right) with international student Chen "Sangria" Zhang (photo by Johnny Guatto) 

Read more about the personal librarian program in U of T News

Help Syrian newcomers adjust to life in Canada and learn about a different culture at the same time 

Students with U of T’s Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations-Cultural Exchange and Support Initiative are helping Syrian immigrants settle into life in a new country. They meet up once a week, cook Syrian food and brush up on their English or Arabic.

Student-volunteers from the Near and Middle Eastern Civilization-Cultural Exchange and Support Initiative host weekly meet-ups with Syrian newcomers to help them adapt to life in Canada (photo courtesy Rasha Elendari)

“We hope this can be a stepping stone for the Syrian newcomers in Canada where they feel they are a part of something,” Rob Martin, a co-founder of the initiative and a PhD student in archeology, told The Toronto Star

“They have been through so much and endured traumas. It’s great to see them come out of their shells, make new friends and be happy.”

Read The Toronto Star story

See the CBC story 

Learn more about the cultural exchange workshops in U of T News

Talk to your profs about research opportunities abroad

Some of the best learning opportunities are outside the classroom, and your teachers can help you find them.  Joseph Wong, professor and Canada Research Chair in political science and U of T's head of international student experience, took undergrads to South Africa last summer to meet government workers helping the poorest of the poor. Their work contributed to his research on how social services can connect with people in need. 

Mingle with city experts at a McLuhan salon 

The McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, named after the influential theorist and U of T Professor Marshall McLuhan, is bringing discussions about Toronto to various city venues. This fall, they kicked off a salon series at Toronto City Hall with a talk about Toronto and its cultural institutions’ impact on the world.

The first McLuhan salon took place at the heart of the city, Toronto City Hall, in November (photo by Romi Levine) 

The event brought together experts like Toronto’s poet laureate Anne Michaels and city librarian Vickery Bowles. Anybody can register and the events are free. 

Read more about the McLuhan salons

Bonus: Tell your profs what you think of their class 

When course evaluation season rolls around, it’s important to give your professor some feedback about their class. Can my two cents really make a difference, you ask? The comments help profs improve their courses – and yes, they're actually listening. Student evaluations of his course on pop culture led David Roberts, an assistant professor in the urban studies program, to add a section on Godzilla and monster movies in post-war Japan. Who doesn’t want to study that? 

Read more about course evaluations

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