• awkwardness,  friends,  fun & places,  homosexuality,  keeners,  weirdness

    8 questions from a very inquisitive person

    Your website is very interesting , thanks! Now I’m going into gr.12 and I was wondering :

    1) Is it true that UofT is a nerd school that only studies and doesn’t know how to party ?

    2) Does UofT have air conditioning for those hot summer days?

    3) Are there any encounters with ghosts on the st. George campus?

    4) Do you have any gay professors on the campus?

    5) Is it possible to get perfect at UofT in your courses , like in high school ?

    6) Does UofT block any websites in their network?

    7) In the lecture halls, are there power outlets to plug In your laptop if it’s running low ?

    8) Oh and , are you a guy or a girl?


    You are going into Grade 12 next year, and spending all your time reading a university admissions website?! I hereby order you to smoke pot and lose your virginity, like immediately.

    Because askastudent is nearly as pathetic as you are, here are the answers to your burning questions, dear. Once again, please stop reading this website and participate in normal high school activities, from one former aska-junkie to another.

    1) Depending on the program and its students, I can see how the “nerd school” rep might suffice, but U of T – unlike say Queen’s, or Western – is also in the biggest, most party-centric city in Canada (unless you’re going to McGill). You will meet partiers, and academics and even academic-partiers. Don’t worry. There’s a lot going on campus, as long as you stay out of the stacks.

    2) I believe that most of U of T is in fact, air-conditioned. Which is a godsend. My apartment is like a friggin’ furnace today.

    3) Totally, man.

    4) There are gay profs on campus, absolutely! An amazing one is the incredible, adorable Scott Rayter who teaches Queerly Canadian as part of the Sexual Diversity Studies program at University College. That program is terrific – not only is the course material really fantastic, but the classmates are pretty cute.

    5) Hahahahahaha.

    6) Mmm, not that I know of. Though there is a pretty awesome webnet supergroup that’s funded by the University that actually investigates human rights web blocking in other countries. Read this article and believe.

    7) Probably, though you would have to be in prime optimum plug locales. I’d be charging that sucker, just in case.

    8) Askastudent is an androgynous supermodel.

    Please don’t ask me anything else. This is your summer! This is your youth! Enjoy it while you can.

    xoxo, Askastudent

  • choosing,  friends,  profs

    the cliques, the rich kids, the crappy lecturers… UofT has it all

    Hi, I’m really nervous about university, like anyone else I know. I just wanted to know is it as bad any some of the reviews I have been reading online say? People say it is hard to make friends, its very competitive, there are cliques based on race and money, the teachers are super slack and only care about money for researching. Also that there is no school spirit. So I was wondering if you could tell me based on the social environment and academic life, how do you feel? Do you regret going to U of T, if you had the chance would you go somewhere else? Much thanks


    Your questions are difficult ones to answer, but I know how you feel. I remember being in high school and thinking the exact same things.

    Still, I advise you to stop reading reviews about UofT onlin. I’m sure that 90% of the people who are trashing UofT online have never been even been here. I remember going online and reading forum posts about what people thought about UofT too, back in my high school days. Honestly, though? It just made me more insecure about my University choice. Looking back now, I wish I just shut out what other people said, because it doesn’t matter what they say. In the end, it’s about you and what you get out of your own University experience.

    I’ll go over your points one by one. 😀

    1) It’s hard to make friends. I think it’s generally harder to make friends in University than in high school. I mean, you’re probably not going to have classes with the same bunch of people over and over again you won’t even know all of the names of the people in your class. Perhaps it is true that it is even more difficult to make friends at UofT, though, because the campus is so huge. Maaaaaaaaaaaaybe. But I do know that I enjoy University a lot more than high school: the people here are more open and accepting, and I don’t feel pressured to always hang out with a specific group of people anymore. I have the freedom to hang out with the people who I admire and who share the same values as me, so even though I might have fewer friends than I did in high school, I feel that the friends I’ve made here are more sincere and more relevant to my life than ever.

    Besides, I think that there are definitely things you can do to reach out to other people at UofT if you are having trouble meeting friends in class. For example, you could take up a work-study job. Or you could join some extra-curricular activities?maybe you’ll find people that share the same interests and passions as you there.

    2) It’s very competitive, there are cliques based on race and money. I’m not sure how true these statements are. I think it depends on your program. In my own program (physics), there haven’t been too many cliques or competitive people in my classes. There are some annoying people here and there, but you just have to ignore them and not let them get to you. That said, there are competitive people and cliques everywhere and you will probably find them in any University you go to.

    3) The teachers are super slack and only care about money for researching. I don’t really think this is totally true either. After all, most (if not all) the professors here were undergraduate students once, so at least some of them would be sympathetic about the needs of undergraduate students, right? Even though their funds might be somewhat tight, I’ve had some really good profs that make it a daily goal to enhance student experience and infuse students with enthusiasm and curiosity. Then again, I’ve had some pretty terrible lecturers too, but you can probably avoid them through smart scheduling and good use of the anti-calendar and let me stress that you will find bad profs at any University you go to.

    4) There is no school spirit. Well, you may be right about this one. There isn’t a huge sense of unity on campus, because there’s just so many people here. However, there are literally hundreds of active clubs on campus (from college councils to social groups to chess clubs), and I’m sure you can find a spirited group that fits you. Have you taken a tour of the campus, by the way? That might help you decide whether or not UofT has the kind of environment that you wanted. (Duh.)

    I definitely do not regret going to UofT. I’ve found a lot of great opportunities here for one, I got to be askastudent. Plus, no other University in Canada has such a diverse range of programs and courses. I do feel disconnected from the other people on campus sometimes, but at the same time I’ve made one or two lifelong friends here too. I can honestly tell you right now that I cannot see myself having gone anywhere else for my undergraduate degree.

    Of course, I’m not you. What I feel may not be how you’ll feel. But remember that no program or school is guaranteed to make you successful and nothing external can make you happy. Happiness lies in your perspective, hard work, and ability to deal with life. So while it’s good that you’re asking these questions, you can’t truly know how it feels like to be a UofT student until you’re actually here. But just remember that you’re not locked in to UofT: you can always transfer to another University (I actually transferred to UofT’s Faculty of Arts and Science after a not-so-great year at Engineering).

    Jeez. I sound like I’m writing for some crappy-ass self-help book. I should really stop being so nice to incoming students. But I’m just sooooo kind and pure-hearted. 🙂

  • admissions,  friends

    yes, aska does have friends!


    I have applied to U of T St.George for Life sciences program, and I will be
    finishing grd 12 Adv. Func, Eng, Calculus in this semester. My best friend
    who applied for the same program took Eng and Calculus in private school,
    and he is so worrying about if there is any preference given to those taking
    courses in home schools. Also, will he, with high marks in prerequisite
    courses taken in private, get the offer earlier than me?

    Thanks a lot!


    *sits on a hamburger*

    Geez. Couldn?t you have asked your school?s guidance counselors instead? Admittedly, my old school?s guidance counselors weren?t very helpful, but I had to suffer throughout my teen years, so why should you get it easy, hmm? Why should I just give you the answers without you having to work for them?

    Okay, I just asked someone for you (*grumble*), and no. There is no preference given at all to those taking courses in home schools. As for whether he?ll get an earlier offer than you, it depends on HOW much higher his marks are. If it?s just one or two marks per course, it probably wouldn?t make a difference. If he got 95 in English and you got a 75 though, that might warrant the University giving him an earlier admission than you. Aww, don?t be sad. If he?s your best friend, I?m sure he?ll still love you, even if you get a few bad marks under your sleeve.

    And you’re making me extremely sad. Aska and aska’s best friend were once in the same program, but then we both switched to different programs. Now he’s devoted his life to flip-flops and he doesn’t understand my non-nerdy jokes anymore. I’m jealous. I still love him though. Here?s to friendship!

    Okay, now stop giving me that questioning look. Yes, I do have emotions, thank you very much, and yes I do have real friends that I haven’t brainwashed!… …… …… … …… …… … …… ……… ………… ………… … … …… …… …… …… …… …… … …… … … … …… … …… … … …… … …… … …… … … …… … …… …… … …… … …… …… …… …yet!

    Oh cheeses. Did I just tell you that? You know too much. *leads you into the brain harvesting room*

  • friends,  getting involved

    Won’t find this in the Calendar or Timetable.

    Hey Aska!
    Its my first year at U of T and I’ll be commuting.. Just wondering if you have some advice for meeting people and getting involved.. I just feel like it will be hard meeting people not living in res, can you really make friends in big lecture halls?
    Thanks :)c

    Tis true. Residence is a pretty easy way to make friends, and NO you really can’t make friends in big lecture halls. BUT residence is also an easy way to make enemies, and there are tonnes of opportunities to make friends on your way to and from big lecture halls.

    Let me just say that I had a positive experience in residence, but an easy criticism is that it’s like a continuation of high school (with the same level of gossip, but in a more sophisticated vocabulary). You would make friends in res, but primarily through proximity, not necessarily mutual interest/compatibility.

    You have already touched upon possibly the best way to make friends at U of T: getting involved.

    Whether you are joining a student society, a club, or an intramural sports team – participating in extracurricular activities gives you a strong chance of meeting people… that you like.

    Each College and Department typically has an undergrad student union. I know a bunch of Cinema kids involved that way, and they love it. There are clubs aligned with spirituality, hobbies, political parties… and there are tonnes of student newspapers you can contribute to. I’ll stop listing examples of groups to join, because there are hundreds at the university. The Clubs Fair, happening on Friday, September 4th, is a good way to see what your options are.

    But let’s be serious for a moment. Not EVERYONE wants to play a sport. And not EVERYONE is a “clubs” type, which tends to be a specific breed of student (characterized by an ultra-peppy and cliquey ability to over-achieve).

    Speaking of student societies, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. Attend Frosh Week and have fun. I mean that in the active sense. Try to get the most out of the experience. There’s nothing I hate more than too-cool-for-school-kids who hide their insecurities by sulking about how “lame” Frosh activities are. Your college’s Student Society will provide other structured opportunities for you to meet people throughout the school year (ski trips, pub nights, formals).

    Clubs, sports, social events… what else? Class.

    I met some of my favourite people in class. Small classes. Seminars. Tutorials; the type of classroom setting where you have to say your name before you speak. Not only are you forced to talk to your classmates, but sharing a class with someone suggests that you also have some common interests. Where else can one enjoy a marathon conversation with someone about reconstructing morpho-syntactic structure and inflectional paradigms in proto-Semitic?

    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    I am happy to hear that you’re keen to engage in a social network downtown. It seems that the tendency for uninvolved commuters is to leave the city immediately after class, and return to their circle of high school friends – only to return en masse to Richmond St. later that evening in a their parents’ minivans, sporting bejewelled halter tops, excessive eye-liner and 7-UP bottles half-filled with vodka.

    That was an unfair characterization. Crystal light is clearly the new 7-UP.

    Maybe I’m just bitter because I grew up in rural Eastern Ontario and had dropped all of my high school friends before I even got here. Call me an a-hole, but a boy can only listen to small town folk inappropriately pluralizing words for so long (“yous guys,” “eatin’ at Subways,” etc.). As you can see my campaign to make university friends was born out of necessity.

    Generally speaking, I do think that it is really important to expand your social scene at University. This is especially true in a city like Toronto, where you have an opportunity to meet a diverse range of people. Alas, I am preaching to the choir, for you are the one who is asking about making friends.

    So, I will conclude with my best advice, which is to be OPEN to meeting new people. Sometimes the best way to make friends is a less desperate/aggressive approach. Sit directly beside someone in lecture, arrive five minutes early to tutorial to engage in small talk, take off your oversized sunglasses and undersized earphones as soon as you enter a building, don’t wear Axe.

    If all else fails, substitute human friends with small dogs… or iPhones.

  • awkwardness,  first year,  friends,  new kids,  residence

    All the ladies who truly feel me (throw your hands up at me).

    hard to admit, but being a mama’s girl my mom is coming with me to toronto for few weeks during frosh week to settle me into my residence etc (teaching me how to use the laundry machine to avoid ‘everything is pink because of one red sock’ situation, etc etc)
    but through sept 3rd and 18th there seems to be no hotel rooms available for booking
    would it be possible for her to stay with me in my residence during her stay? I have a single room so maybe?


    Listen, I am a proud Mama’s boy who couldn’t even recognize a washer/dryer upon entrance to residence – so I can understand where you are coming from. It is BECAUSE I can relate to you that I’m about to serve up some tough love.


    Are you honestly considering having your Mom stay with you for the first 15 days of university?! Really? I think this is a bad idea for reasons three.


    One. These are two of the most socially decisive weeks of your uni experience. You will seriously limit your ability to make friends and engage in (planned or impromptu) activities. Unless you have one of those vicarious mothers who’ll wear tubes tops while serving up strawberry daiquiris to your girlfriends – you cannot argue that you will be undermining your?social life before it has the chance to develop.


    You’ve signed up for Frosh week right? If not go sign up now! Seriously. Go.


    Okay, you’re back. Now, that you’re doing Frosh, what is your poor mother going to do with herself while you are pre-occupied with all of these exciting events? Water fights and face paint? No.


    Two. You have a single room? Is it part of a suite? Do you share common spaces like a living room or bathroom? Think about the situation that you will be putting your neighbours in? The presence of a parental figure would certainly be a damper on the local scene. In fact it would just be awkward for everyone involved. ????


    Does your residence have a limit on the number of consecutive nights a guest can stay? Find out.


    Three. I GET that your Mom loves you, and wants to ease your transition. I really do.

    I GET that you want your Mom around to teach you the in and outs of domesticity, and to be a familiar face when you are entering a new environment. BUT you should know that there is something to be said for learning independence… independently from your parents.


    University is so much more than memorizing crap in class. It is about stepping out from under the protective parental umbrella, and tackling the challenges and nuances of daily living – face on. And you won’t be alone. Everyone shares these uncertainties.


    I had a friend who poured bowls of cookies for breakfast, and put liquid detergent in the dryer. Did we judge her? No, we helped her and became better friends because of it.


    Why don’t you be proactive and help your Mom with laundry and cooking now, before you leave? She’ll love it for more than one reason, and you’ll have a head start when you get to school.


    Perhaps your Mom could visit for a couple days in the second or third week of class (when you’ve actually accumulated enough laundry to do a load). I would plan it tentatively, as you may very well find that you aren’t as incompetent as you once thought.



    Sound reasonable? I really hope so, because I am not kidding around.



    Hmmm… this one felt a little heavy for a Friday afternoon. How about we lighten the mood with a little spice a la 1997?


    Oooh, that actually just made things even heavier, didn’t it? My bad.

  • campus,  first year,  friends,  new kids

    Coolness validated.

    Hey there..
    Ok so, I’m going to be visiting Toronto sometime soon.. And I live at like the other end of the world, so it’s not like I’m gonna be making this trip again before august or September or whenever term starts.. (I’ve been admitted into arts and science, first year).. So heres my question… It says t-cards will be made available from June 1st.. But i’m going to be out of toronto by June 1st… So is there anyway I can request to get it made earlier? Cuz I’m guessing without a t-card I can’t get a utoronto email address… And then I have no way to act cooler than the other people stuck in this hell hole by joining the University of Toronto network on facebook!..
    Also while I’m visiting what all should I be picking up and getting done? (For example I’m gonna check out my residence and pick up a calender, so whats the other stuff I can finish off?)


    Hi. Great questions. I actually laughed out loud at one point. Okay, get over yourself.

    It breaks my heart (…and I swear I have one) that this reply is arriving too late for you. At least it’ll be relevant for other newbies.


    You can’t get your TCard printed before June 1st, you will have to wait until you move to Toronto in the fall, when you can contend with a million other people lined up to get theirs. Irritating, I know. Unless everyone ELSE reads this and picks theirs up in advance. Potentially you will be the only one then. This will be little a test of Aska’s power.


    It’s true that you need your TCard to be issued your UTORid, which is necessary to create your email account… which is necessary to join the Facebook network… which is necessary to make your friends feel uncool. However, you certainly don’t need your TCard to make your friends feel less cool. Take my word for it. There are tonnes of strategies to elevate yourself above the clique.

    -join the Toronto network

    -change your education information

    -take photos of the campus and post them in an album (toss in a photo of the ROM… that’ll get ’em)


    If you really wanna be Toronto-cool, you might as well start selling out to the latest non-conformist trend (note the rich oxymoronic-ness). Think sickly thin boys with scarves and sloppy-haired girls in men’s dress shirts.


    Come to think of it, you don’t have to elevate your own coolness to gain advantage over your friends.’ Why not knock them down a few pegs? That’s my modus operandi, and look where it got me – getting paid to make fun of people.


    But seriously, if you are a new student visiting campus in the summer, do these things:

    a) visit your rez (check out this link: http://www.housing.utoronto.ca/residence/ToursMay-Aug2009.pdf)

    b) visit your college Registrar’s Office

    -pick up the Calendar & Timetable

    -check, in advance, if they are conducting any summer orientation sessions for new students

    -make an appointment, in advance, with an academic advisor (super useful)

    c) visit the undergraduate coordinator from the Department of any prospective Programs of Study

    d) partake in a “walking” campus tour:

    -until you are enrolled in your courses (27 July), you won’t really know where your classes will be held – so identifying specific buildings will be less useful in June, but the walking tour will introduce you to buildings that are more universally relevant to students

    e) eat something awesome:

    -Future Bakery & Caf (Bloor & Brunswick)

    -Daddy O’s (Sussex & Spadina)

    -Harbord Bakery (Harbord & Major)

    f) go up the CN Tower:

    -just kidding


    Is that enough for you? Good luck.

  • friends,  fun & places,  other schools (boo!)

    Friends AND school?!? Not in this recession.

    Hey Aska!
    I will be graduating from high school this year and am very keen on attending UofT for life sciences. However, i have been getting mixed reviews from people regarding the social life there as apposed to the social life at say queens or mac.

    I live around 45 mins (on subway) from UofT but i am planning on living in residence nonetheless so that i don’t have to sacrifice my social life because i want the uni experience to be so much more than just studying and commuting.

    Is this a stupid decision? am i simply wasting mine and my parent’s money here by wasting an extra $9000 here? or is it worth it?

    Also which college has the best social life? I applied to UC college… does it have a good community feel to it? or would u recommend some other college for residence?

    Thanks a lot!



    Besides the fact that you are “very keen” I don’t know anything about you that could inform what you may value in a social life at U of T. In fact, I’m having trouble defining the incredibly ambiguous phrase “social life” in the first place. My working definition involves time, enjoyment, an activity, yourself, and other humans. I will refer to these other humans as cool, in the most relative sense.


    You’re in Life Science, so you should appreciate my effort to use sciencey things like numbers:

    67 000 students at U of T

    21 000 students at Queen’s

    At a liberal estimate of 40% “cool people” at Queen’s, that equals 8 400 potential friends (PFs). At the same rate, U of T would offer 26 800 PFs. To provide the same number of PFs as Queen’s, U of T only needs a 13% cool-people-rate.

    Now, I did a 3 week stint in MAT135, so I can tell you that that looks pretty good for Toronto.


    Perhaps you are thinking that the 8 400 PFs at Queen’s are more concentrated than those at UofT; that cool kids in Toronto are diluted amidst the sea of geeks, nerds, dorks and hermits. NOT TRUE. Coolness tends to cluster, and finding the clusters is just like Where’s Waldo.


    To push this metaphor, finding friends at U of T is like finding those coloured books that Waldo drops – more discreet, but more diverse. Finding friends at Queen’s is like finding Waldo himself – more obvious, but totally homogenous.


    You may find, however, that the social life at U of T is quite embedded in the city of Toronto itself, and Torontonian culture. The identity of Kingston, inversely, is formed more around the school. These patterns are both good and bad, but neither is definitively better. In Toronto you can take advantage of rich culture (e.g. festivals, concerts, museums, ethnic neighbourhoods). At the same time, the places you go out to will be filled with all sorts of age groups, unlike the 18-25 range you’re bound to find around Queen’s.


    I can attest that living in residence may increase the likelihood of a university-based social life, by virtue of sharing the same space as others. It can be a lot like high school in this sense (for better or for worse). Whereas residence enables more passive friend-making, commuting requires more active engagement (e.g. clubs, sports, events, talking to classmates). No matter where you live, a social life won’t just fall on your lap. Now that you’re all grown up, you need to get out and explore to find all the cool kids.


    I wouldn’t get too worked up about how social each College is. The range of opinions is really diverse across the student population. University College is big, and they have an active student society, so I would guess that your prospects look good there, but then again, maybe your ideal social life lies elsewhere.

  • awkwardness,  friends,  frosh,  residence,  university-college,  woodsworth

    Can you find the Pig Latin in this post?

    ok, so from what i’ve heard, UC sounds like the best college (by best, i mean not religious, stuck-up, or too weird) and i’m kind of regretting my choice of Woodworth. it seems to lack character. i know it’s a little late now, but can anyone convince me that i made the right decision, or am i just going to have to make lots of friends at UC so i have an excuse for spending all my time there?
    thanks a lot.

  • concurrent ed,  friends,  tutoring

    The Mystery of Women

    OK, seriously. I feel I need to ask someone, *someone* who may be able to helpexplain something to me.I’ve noticed over the last few years that university-aged women (i.e., women intheir twenties) talk like stoners. Seriously. They speak in a low grumblingtone, like they are lethargic and were just woken up from their midday nap infront of the loud TV. Don’t get me wrong, I used to smoke enough pot that theexhaust would fill the Hindenburg many times over, but I have never *never*talked like a stoner (and for the record, I don’t smoke anymore because I findit too strong now and it just puts me to sleep). Anyway, I don’t mean tosingle-out the women but I honestly don’t see the same trend/pattern with theguys. I look to the trust-worthy observers at AAS and I’d love to hear thecomments. I conclude that I don’t have a problem with how people speak, but Ithink this speaking “trend” is just that and I’d love to learn more about itsorigins (not that I’m looking to adapt the trend anytime soon).ta

  • friends,  frosh,  innis,  new kids

    swedish student and frosh week go head to head…

    I’ve applied to Innis, I think I’m gonna get in… now, coming all the way from Sweden, I won’t know a single person in Toronto. I’ve been told most people get their social life started during frosh week. What if you don’t care much for being wasted and partaking in kindergarten like activities? In high school there really was no option if you wanted to make friends, but you’d think people might have, ahem, grown a bit in time for university? I mean, there should be some kind of stage between the math club and food fights.