SURVIVING (NOT THRIVING): uni.

You know those tweets and tumblr posts that talk about kids who were “gifted” in middle school and are now really struggling to come to terms with their mediocrity in the adult world?

YEAH.  ME.

In spite of what people used to tell me, I never thought my grades in high school were very good.  Then when I transferred schools I had to get ahold of my old transcripts and I realized… damn.  I was a smart kid.  And truthfully… I didn’t try that hard.  I’ve always been a procrastinator.  And that worked out alright when I was sixteen but… surprise!  University is hard.  The fact that I had to try so hard, not just to excel but to like… pass… was kind of a shock to my system.**

So yeah, I’m definitely not an expert on THRIVING in the university environment.  In fact, there have been times I wasn’t sure I would even survive.  I guess in high school (back when I still had a promising future) I never realized how many people were helping me.  Attendance was mandatory, there were consequences for not following through on my actions, and I have always hated getting in trouble.  And on a less direct wavelength, people knew me.  I grew up in a small town – once I had established that I was a person who did things, I was kind of stuck with it.

I’ll be honest – I’ve considered dropping out more than once.  But at the end of the day… I like school.  I like learning.  And I definitely like being surrounded by intelligent, passionate, socially aware individuals.  AND THE DAMN FACILITIES!  When else will I get the opportunity to sit in a 112 million dollar building, quietly crying into my coffee cup?

The point is, I might not be the ultimate expert on slaying university, but at the end of the day… I’m still here.  And it hasn’t been easy – so if you need a little help surviving, I’m your gal.  Here are my 6 best tips.

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catch me at my desk, staring into space and questioning everything

✨  go to class.  Remember when I said that part of my self-care resolution was to do the hard stuff?  This is up there – sometimes you kind of convince yourself that what you really need is to just catch up on some sleep… and then next thing you know it’s been like four days and you have no idea what is happening.  If you are REALLY DYING and need to take a mental health day?  I’m all for it.  But know yourself well enough to differentiate between when you need some love and when you’re just being lazy.

✨ Your planner is your best friend.  First of all – it gives the illusion that you have a screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-12-45-51-pmbusy full life and you’re keeping your shit together.  For me life is all about faking it till you make it.  But ALSO it can be a great tool.  I write in due dates and events in advance, but I also try (aka, I do not always succeed) to write in some things I want to accomplish when I get up that morning (ie, in the Jan. 14th box I have “blog post, laundry, take out garbage, buy text books, print resumes”).  Lists are my favourite thing, really.

✨ after the first week of classes I ALWAYS print off all of my course outlines and write all the due-dates into my planner.  It takes very little effort!  If I’m feeling really ambitious I’ll also add a “start working on ___” date – I don’t always stick to it (there are very few papers that I gave more than 24 hours to, if I’m being honest), but having it written in is good motivation.

✨ exchange numbers/emails with one person in each class.  I’m really bad at making friends, but I try to get relatively friendly with someone in each class because it makes life a thousand times better.  It means you have a place to sit – aka, you aren’t wandering around aimlessly looking awkward – and you have someone to ask for notes if you miss class.  It also kind of holds you accountable – you know someone is going to ask you where you were if you sleep through that morning class.

✨ keep busy.  It’s hard sometimes – I feel like I was always a busy person and now that I’ve had to uproot my life and start over I can’t for the life of me figure out what I used to spend all my time doing.  But when I have too much time off I tend to go a little crazy, and I end up doing nothing.  SO if you have a bit of extra time on your hands make a list of little things you want to do – go to the museum, check out that cute coffee shop, visit your grandparents, or do boring adult things like book a dentist appointment – and write them into the empty days on your calendar.  Trust me, you’ll feel better if you can talk yourself into leaving the house at least once a day (most days – not every day).

✨SLEEP!  Sleep is not always an option – I get that better than anyone, believe me.  But please at least try to get a decent amount of sleep.  It will make you happier AND smarter.  Fun little anecdote that I always remember; I was MISERABLE in high school and I thought it was just because life was out to get me – but once I graduated and had a lot more time on my hands I started getting eight hours of sleep a night and suddenly the world magically sucked a lot less.  The difference was so noticeable that I’m still thinking about it four years later.

BAM.  Follow those tips and I promise you’ll come out the other end alive.  I believe in you!

This post got excessively long – sorry.  I think I just feel like we don’t talk enough about how hard the “simple” things are.  Things like sleeping, or making it to class, or meeting people.  You shouldn’t feel like a failure for struggling with the basics – the basics aren’t easy.

Also I’m praying that people aren’t reading this and being like “why does leah think this stuff is so hard?”.  Like, please tell me this is at least a little bit universal?

Wishing you all endless good luck in conquering the basics,

– L

** please forgive this excessively braggy paragraph; the moral of the story is meant to be that I’m pretty not-that-dumb, but life is damn hard.

 

SURVIVING (NOT THRIVING): that ontario winter.

I woke up this morning to a voicemail from my mom, warning me about what the weather was supposed to be doing in Toronto today.  Yeah okay mom, I thought, you’re 3000 km away, just chill.  But then I opened up the weather app and saw that it was -8 degrees; -23 with the windchill.

WOW that is cold.

Being a West Coast gal, I have never experienced that kind of cold before; anything below zero meant I did not leave the house.  If I was lucky it meant I didn’t leave my bed!  But of course now that I’m a real Toronto person, I had to get up and go about life as if I was completely unfazed.

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basically my life today

Today was definitely the coldest day so far, but the last few weeks have certainly still felt pretty frigid; temperatures below zero aren’t even a shock anymore.  And slowly but surely, this West Coast girl is learning how to survive (but definitely not thrive) this winter.

If any of you are experiencing a killer (apparently this is actually very normal, but it’s definitely killing me) winter for the first time right now, I got ya.  Here’s what you absolutely must have.

1. a zippered purse.  I really really love just carrying around all of my worldly possessions with me everywhere I go – kind of like a Tibetan monk, if Tibetan monks were full of anxiety and owned a lot of lipstick.  Anyway the purse that I usually carry is a very cute (and very big) one from H&M, but it has no zipper or way of closing it.  As I discovered last week, that is a surefire way to end up with a purse full of snow.  Also a great way to ruin all of your class notes!  So yeah, a purse with a zipper is essential – don’t tell anyone, but the one I’m currently using was 15 dollars at Ardenes.

2. hand cream.  My hands were literally bleeding a few days ago because it is so damn aveeno.jpgcold and they are so damn dry.  I bought a tube of Aveeno hand cream, and I swear by this stuff now.  Officially can not live without it.

3. good chapstick.  My lips were also definitely suffering – I had been applying burts bees like crazy but it was not helping.  Time to pull out the big guns – Blistex, all day every day.

4. a toque.  What do non-Canadians call toques?  Are they just… hats?  Whatever you call it, you need one, immediately.  Pull it down over your ears and put your hood up for the ultimate cozy experience.

5. waterproof boots.  Listen, no one looks cute in winter clothing, okay?  But believe me on this, once your feet are cold there is no going back.  You will wish you were dead.  I mean it.

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currently on sale at express!!

6. a blanket scarf.  One of the most important investments of my life.  Doubles as a cozy blanket for those late nights at the library!

7. those text-y gloves.  I finally got a pair of these today.  It was a little hard to text what with the snow that was constantly pelting my screen, but STILL better than nothing.

8. waterproof mascara.  I learned this lesson the same day as the purse thing.  My friend Kelly, who grew up in Ontario, was actually dying laughing at me.  A quick lesson about snow: it will hit your face, it will become water, and it will turn you into that snapchat filter with the running mascara.  Not cute.  I’m currently using one from L’Oreal that I like a lot!

9. a totally shameless attitude toward keeping warm.  In spite of the fact that I have literally never experienced weather quite like the blizzard I walked through today, I was actually really not that cold.  Why?  Because I was so damn prepared for it (thanks mom!).  When it’s -20 you don’t get to concern yourself with looking cute.  Wrap your damn scarf around your face, put up the hood of your parka, wear 8 pairs of socks and leggings under your jeans.  I look dumb as hell in hats but you better believe I will not leave the house without one until I can finally see the ground beneath my feet again.  I never look that cool anyway – may as well look like a warm dork, not a shivering/dying one.

All in all, I’m very much looking forward to hopping on a plane in four days and flying home to Victoria for a little reprieve from the magical winter wonderland Toronto is becoming.  I love this city more than anything, but I miss my family, and the ocean, and being able to go out without worrying about losing my fingers.

How do you cope with winter – any real Canadians out there who can give me tips?  Also, important question; why does walking through snow feel like such a damn workout?  I’m over it.

On a slightly related note, I’m thinking this is going to be a new feature – “surviving (not thriving)”.  Too many blogs are teaching you how to be the very best ever at everything !!! and that’s great, but I think maybe if you want to one day be the best then it’s important to first get yourself to the point where you are… well… surviving.  So far in the works are posts about uni, moving out, and dating.  Any other thoughts or suggestions??

I have an exam tomorrow (actually 10.5 hours from now, if we’re being precise), so I’d better go get a bit more studying in before I call it quits.  I have to be at the school by 8am, which just seems cruel and unusual, considering the recent developments of my sleep patterns.  Wish me luck!

Enjoy the snow – L