“What Brings You To My Fireside?” (And Other Thoughts from Grad School)

Well, hello there! I guess I lied before when I said that I was done blogging for Glendon because… I’ve returned! Except for now it’s Glendon graduate, grad-school Laura blogging as oppose to Glendonite Laura. I’m really just the same person but maybe a bit more cynical than before and I like to think I can use bigger words, after only two months of grad school, but I don’t think that’s actually true.

As mentioned before, after falling in love with the Canadian Studies program at Glendon, I decided to pursue the study further at Trent University where it was recommended, by both my cousin and some very influential Canadian Studies professors at Glendon, as the place to be when studying Canadian Studies. So, off I went. And I can’t sit here and lie and tell you that I wasn’t/still am terrified because frankly, a lot of the time I feel like I don’t know what’s going on but I guess that’s life.

Along with all the changes that come with being a grad student, I think the biggest adjustment that I have had is being a TA! With Glendon’s class sizes being super small already, having a TA, never mind BEING the TA, is such a foreign concept to me. During the first week of school, we had a few days of TA training where various professors came in to discuss what makes a good seminar and how we can be the best resource for our students. One of the first questions that was asked to the group was, “who has never had a TA before?” Being the shy person that I am, I held my hand back a moment and waited to see if anyone put up their hand. There was maybe 3 of us.  

What I have come to realize is that even though I did not have any direct interaction with a TA, the small sized learning environment that I was able to thrive in at Glendon, has helped not only myself as a grad student but is a learning environment and style that I understand and can hopefully teach my students the benefits of as well through the seminars that I lead.

A classmate of mine, we will call him Travis, upon being asked how he was going to run his very first seminar during the first few weeks of school replied: “I don’t know…I think I’m just going to push all the desks back, make everybody sit on the floor, and you know, just ask them, ‘what brings you to my fireside?'” Yeah…that happened. (He’s one of those people who can totally pull this off though)

Besides asking people what brings them to my fictional fireside, Glendon gave me a better understanding that fostering a fun and welcoming small learning environment, where question are always encouraged, is key to learning and is something  I hope to bring to my tutorial groups.

As for my own studies, grad school is essentially you and (at the most) six other people sitting around a dining room looking table talking about ideas and the assigned readings. Well, at least it is for me. Although the academic level of conversation is often higher than the undergrad setting – after all, some of the people in my own grad seminars are PhD students (eep!) – this is a situation that Glendon has prepped me for for the past four years. Sharing your ideas with a small group of people and taking advantages of the individual attention.

With that, I hope this is my first of monthly blog posts about life as a Glendon grad and now grad student.

Until next time.

xo

Final post: Confessions

With this my final blog post as an eAmbassador, you can of course still find me on the internet here, here, and here, I thought I would come clean about a few things:

1. I didn’t do my frosh week

For the people that know me in the real life, this shouldn’t really be a big shocker. As an introvert – side note: everybody should go read Susan Cain’s book Quiet about the power of introverts in an extroverted world – I like to spend my time in a quiet setting, reading most likely, or listening to soft folk music. Not, subsequently, with a huge group of yelling people. Also, as somebody who is from Toronto, I felt like I didn’t need to travel all over a city that I (for the most part) know.

I therefore met a lot of my friends through other and just as effective means. Thankfully Glendon is small so I was able to interact and subsequently befriend the people in my various classes. Also, through joining different clubs and organizations that I’m interested in, like Radio Glendon and ProTem!, I got to meet people who have the same interests as me, on a smaller scale.

The most important reason that I’m confessing this in particular is because I know that there will be some incoming 2017-ers who are like me and would rather not do frosh and that’s okay! You going or not going will not define your time at Glendon or university in general. (A lot of the people you meet at frosh week you pretty much don’t talk to them ever again once classes start soo….)

Of course, I’m not completely dismissing frosh week! Sometimes it’s really nice to get out of your comfort zone and throw yourself into new activities and do stuff you would otherwise not do and more power to you for doing so! A lot of the time frosh has a large range of activities too – sometimes loud and overwhelming and sometimes way more mellow like a movie night. See what’s available and pick what interests you. Just don’t feel like you HAVE do to it if that’s not your thing. I don’t regret for a second not participating in frosh.

2. I don’t really know how to do a bibliography 

(Good thing I already got my degree – can they take it away for this?!?!)

“Laura, didn’t you graduate as an English major?” This is true.

If you were to give me a book and tell me to hand write the citation, I MIGHT be able to pull out how to do so from the back cavities of my brain buuuut probably not. I spent my four years using easybib.com. A complete life saver. A lot of people also use refworks but I was always too lazy to set up an account. This website is also a big help.

But seriously, if I had to say an acceptance speech when getting my degree, easybib.com would be high on my list of thank you’s.

3. I’m so happy I came to Glendon 

I often tell people that I don’t think I would have lasted very long at a university where I was just a number and continually lost in the sea of other faceless students. By coming to Glendon I was given opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom, that I probably wouldn’t have had at a different university, I met lifelong friends, and I made lifelong memories. On a bit more of a cheesy note, I’ve had a blast blogging about my student life and I wish every current and future Glendonite best of luck and if you have even half the fun that I had at Glendon, you’ll have the time of your life.

So long guys, it has been great.

“…I got out, I got out, I’m alive but I’m here to stay.”

I Ain’t Lost, Just Wandering

Me and my BFF Mamdouh Shoukri, the president of York University

Me and my BFF Mamdouh Shoukri, the president of York University

Well guys, I did it! I graduated! (See above) Over a month has past since my last blog post and almost two months since end of semester craziness. After finishing up at my time at Glendon and making dramatic life choices, I am happy to announce that next year I will be attending Trent University and earning my Master’s Degree in Canadian Studies. *applause*

It goes without saying that without the amazing Canadian Studies program at Glendon and the prof’s that I had, I would not have fallen in love with the program and area of study as much as I have! For those interested, my Master’s program is a one year, 12 month program, that will require me to do a Major Research Paper (like a thesis but shorter). I’m also going to be a TA which will be super fun – except because Glendon is so small, I’ve actually only had 1 TA in my 4 years, so I don’t REALLY know too much about what they do…

I am Jack Black

Along with graduating just a short time ago, I’m spending my time home in Toronto, hanging out with friends, and working at Sunrise Records – essentially I am a character in High Fidelity/a very typical early-20s character in a lot of television shows/movies.

Through this blog, I’ve talked a lot about both student life and my time at Glendon but also, like a lot of other university/post-university people, about feeling completely lost. My decision to go to grad school was not based on my life in the future but my life in the now. Do I know what continuing my education will do in the grand scheme of things? No. What I do know though is that I like learning about Canada and Canadian culture and by going down that specific path it will hopefully turn into new opportunities and maybe, just maybe a clearer picture about what I want to do with my life.

So fear not:

Stay tuned for my final blog post (!) TOMORROW.

Adele says it best, “I ain’t lost, just wondering.”

Four Things I Learned In Fourth Year

It think it has become PRETTY CLEAR that I’m graduating and I have a lot of subsequent feelings about it. So to completely skip any sort of mushy preface, here are four things I learned in my fourth year at Glendon.

1) How important it is to take advantage (of school) 

Take advantage of what at school, Laura? OF ALL THE THINGS. Awesome classes that you want to take, extracurriculars you want to be involved in, school productions/events you want to go to, workshops where you learn to write a standout cover letter and resume, and student discounts opportunities (seriously). Because all of a sudden it will be March of your last year at Glendon and you realize that you never went to —– or took —- class, and you’re blue about it.

2) Asking for reference letters can be stressful (but they don’t have to be) 

If you’re interested in pursing even more education, like I did (a blog post about that to come!) asking professors for reference letters is an unavoidable fourth year activity. You get all anxious and sweaty (the latter part may just be me) thinking about what professors actually know your name – thankfully that is not hard AT ALL at Glendon – if you did well in their class, if they’re too busy with their own work to help you out. Thankfully, all of my stress was for nothing as. And now two sub-pieces of information that I learned about asking for reference letters:

  • Writing reference letters is not something that is unheard of for Professors. They have been asked before for reference letters and they will be asked again so don’t think that this is some HUGE undertaking and feel guilty about it like some people…aka, me.
  • How well you do in their class obviously matters but I also learned that their position in academic circles is also important. Have the written a book? Do they attend conferences? Essentially, are they a big-wig? If so, their recommendation means a lot. 

3) Get it done now because life only gets busier 

Yup, the ol’ you’re-growing-up-and-soon-you-will-be-OLD-with-like-six-kids-and-be-balding talk. I think that I dwell to much on how old I already an when really I’m not that old at all. A friend of mine actually suggested this point because I think that we both feel that when you’re in university you don’t really have too many obligations but once you enter the big, bad “real world” your life can become pretty chaotic, filled with “responsibilities” etc.

4) I have become one of those people who refer to those younger than me as “children.”

You take up the hallways, eat obnoxiously in class, ask a lot of questions, and are worried about the fact that your title is not underlined. You’re in first year. You’re adorable.

And now for one of my favourite Simon & Garfunkel songs – like you could expect any differently.

“The Dangling Conversation” – Simon & Garfunkel

Yes, we speak of things that matter,
With words that must be said,
“Can analysis be worthwhile?”
“Is the theater really dead?”

Lasts…(part 2!)

Well, holy moly me-oh-my, it has been a long time since I’ve blogged! Almost a month actually…that’s super embarrassing. What I have I been doing with myself since March?! A lot actually! As of yesterday, Friday April 19th at 12:01 pm exactly, I was finished my undergrad at Glendon. *insert incoherent cheering/crying that looks like the gif below*

Me. (But actually a gif from The Perk of Being A Wallflower)

In my last blog post, “Lasts…” I went on a bit of a sentimental journey with you all through my upcoming last two weeks of uni and talked about my feelings. Actually, I’m not very good with talking about my feelings so I used pictures of Elaine Benes from Seinfeld to express my feelings for me. In any case, I thought I would continue with the theme of “lasts” with this mini photo-essay (through my FIRST EVER Storify!) which pretty much tracks my various realizations that my class/exam/whatever was going to be my last and various other emotions that went with it.

(Unfortunately, I can’t embed my Storify on my blog…so check it out via the link below)

View the story “Laura’s Lasts…” on Storify

Fear not, this isn’t my last blog post 🙂 

An appropriate song as always:

“New Goodbye” – Hey Rosetta!

“Get your things
We’re leaving
When the morning birds are singing
We’re sailing

Cause it’s time to go
What’s to come only fate can show…”

Lasts…

Uh-oh guys, I’m getting all sentimental again…With now only about 2 weeks left of school (breathes into bag and breaks out into a sweat) I am now at the stage where I’m saying “Oh my God, this is the last time I’ll…” or “this is my last…”

A few weeks ago, if you follow me on Twitter you already know, it was my last university presentation…EVER. I was still nervous, as I always am for presentations, but I couldn’t also help but sense this pure jubilation! (It also went really well which is a big help.) And this past Wednesday it was my last Wednesday class after my final two classes were cancelled. When I messaged my friend this information, she responded back, “are you celebrating ever ‘last’?”

I guess I am! Although, I have complex emotions that can’t be expressed in a blog post. It’s not so much a “celebration” and more I feel the need to mark the occasion in some sort of way. Am I excited? Am I sad? It’s complex! What I do know though is when I hand in my final undergraduate essay ever, THAT will be excitement!

And now to explain my complex feelings about my “lasts” and almost finishing university in general with pictures of Elaine Benes from Seinfeld – side note: Fifteen years later, I watched Seinfeld from the beginning to end and just finished the series a couple of days ago. I loved every minute of it.

Sometimes I’m like this

Most of the time I feel like this

And I feel like this a lot too

 How do you guys feel about graduating or starting a new chapter in your life? Exciting or stressful?

And now, an Aidan Knight song with the following lyric that can be filed under: relevant.

“Snacking on the end of youth, biting into something new.”

Come On Teacher

I was recently prompted to think about Glendon’s unique “small campus experience” for different Glendon project which I work on with Esther. One of the big positive factors that came up which makes our small campus experience so great is students’ interactions with profs. I guess I took that factor for granted over the past four years  because APPARENTLY at other universities, professors don’t know your name…or say hello to you in the halls…or talk about music/books…or give you cookies.

Continuing the trend, which Alexa started, about looking nostalgically back on my four years of school before I finish up IN FOUR WEEKS, I thought I would highlight some of the great professors that I’ve been lucky enough to have.

Speaking of great teachers…

Michiel Horn

Author of the York University’s history book, historian, and owner of his own Wikipedia page, which he always acts so non-chalant about, Professor Horn is 73 years old and as still as sharp and quick witted as I’m sure he’s ever been. I had the pleasure of having Professor Horn for an Ontario history class last year where for every class (seriously, every class) he would bring us cookies. Yes, cookies. Besides his vast knowledge of Ontario history, Professor Horn had a vast knowledge of pretty much anything and everything so leaving class with a great book or movie recommendation was very, very likely.

Danielle Russell 

Speaking of food, for my two classes I had with Professor Russell when I was in second year, during every exam should would pass out candy. Yes, candy. I’ll always remember my first exam I had with her, it was about halfway through the exam and she said, “class,” rather sheepishly, pulled out this HUGE bag of candy and said, “I know that you guys are tired so I brought you candy.” It was awesome and it was a trend that continued.

Go watch Dead Poets Society

Sharon Davidson

I currently have Professor Davidson for two of my full-year classes this year and have gotten to know her pretty well. I went to go talk to her last semester about an essay I was writing for her Canadian lit class and we started talking about Canadian lit in general and from there, well, we got to talking about Canada Reads. When Canada Reads had their big debates a couple of weeks ago, Professor Davidson and I had some pretty great conversations about who would win the great book debate. When there was only two books left in the debate, we decided to have a little bet in payment of tea/coffee as to which book would win. Well, I won and you know what professor Davidson did? At the beginning of my class with her AFTER READING WEEK (she remembered!) she casually put a plastic bag on my desk and walked to the front of the class to begin the lecture. In it was a jar of loose leaf tea that she had bought me for her debt payment! What a nice lady!

Colin Coates

Professor Colin Coates is one of many Canadian studies professors I have had and has been so nice and open that we just end up talking about Canadian things, grad school, books, and music. I think our friendship started when I had him for my Intro to Canadian Studies class in first year and he played music every lecture and I, seemingly, was the only one who had heard of the majority of the bands. Yeah Canada! Yeah music!

Alexis Lachaine

Speaking of just talking about Canadian things, my class with Professor Lachaine has been by far my favourite of this year. Besides our classroom discussions about the weekly Canadian readings, (okay, this is a little keen BUT) outside of class we often just end up talking about what Canadian books I should read, travelling, and grad school. We also wore the same boots to class one day and talked about their comfort level.

Speaking of teaching, here’s a song about teachers which I named this blog post after.

“Come On Teacher” – Joel Plaskett