With many students likely returning to campus by the end of September, many U of T students will be considering which places at their campuses they should visit before they graduate. Because of the academic rigour of U of T, students often step out of their residences either as a temporary escape from their work or to study with a change of scenery. Below, two contributors provide the locations at the top of their U of T exploration bucket lists.
Relieving stress through nature
Just two weeks into your first year as a U of T student, you have a mountain of homework due. You can’t seem to concentrate and your head hurts — that’s how stress manifests itself. The longer you let the stress linger, the harder it’ll be to learn and enjoy the U of T experience.
However, at each of U of T’s three campuses, you have access to Earth’s best stress reliever: nature. Close your textbook, step out into one of the many green areas at U of T, and you’ll feel your nerves start to calm.
According to a study conducted at Cornell University, students who spent 10–50 minutes in nature — regardless of whether they were walking around or sitting down — showed improvement in mood, heart rate, and blood pressure. Being in nature slows your heart rate, relaxes your muscles, and lessens the production of stress hormones. Luckily, each U of T campus has green spaces you can enjoy.
UTSC houses the Valley Land Trail, a winding path that leads from campus to the Highland Creek Valley. Open during all seasons, you can stroll down the path whenever you have time between classes. The path is surrounded by native plants like raspberries and strawberries, and is home to a collection of animals, including white-tailed deer, red foxes, chipmunks, groundhogs, and squirrels.
While UTSG is surrounded by city life, it also encompasses Queen’s Park. Trees, bushes, and an array of colourful flowers decorate this large green patch of land, making it a great place to wander.
If large parks aren’t your thing, Philosopher’s Walk, a path located near Trinity College, is more intimate. Trees and benches line the path, which makes it the perfect space to experience the greenery and watch animals like squirrels and sparrows.
UTM was built along the Credit River, giving you access to the beauty of the Credit River banks. While lounging on grassy areas around campus or roaming along the tree-lined paths between buildings, you may catch glimpses of squirrels, groundhogs, possums, raccoons, rabbits, deer, and geese.
Not only is nature a beautiful distraction, but it’s also good for your mental and physical health. So the next time you have a couple of hours between classes, go outside and explore U of T’s natural habitats.
Sherene Almjawer is a recent graduate who majored in communication, culture, information & technology, and professional writing and communication.
Exploring U of T’s libraries
Whether you are an incoming student or a current one, you may be surprised to learn that U of T has 42 libraries across all three campuses. In your time at U of T, it may be useful to become acquainted with most of these libraries, whether they’re specific to your college or program or not. After all, with so many libraries to see on campus, why not explore as many as possible? Just don’t forget your TCard — you will not be allowed on the upper floors of Robarts library without one.
A library is a place where it can be just you and your books. Going to a library gives you an excuse to walk to the other side of campus even though you may be quite busy. It’s your chance to see a variety of architectural designs that may provide a welcome distraction from the actual work that you must do.
For all of these reasons, libraries are sanctuaries on campus that allow you to plan for the day ahead or reflect on the day that has passed. Have an important assignment coming up or research to do? The libraries offer a variety of study spaces to choose from. Exam? During most exam periods, when they aren’t operating under COVID-19 regulations, select libraries have all-night service.
If you find yourself on the opposite side of campus from your usual library, consider discovering a new one; I promise that it will make your day so much brighter. After all, nothing is better than a silent library.
For those at UTSG — or even at other campuses — you must try to see all 13 floors of Robarts. The upper floors offer amazing study spots and great views of the campus, and the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is spectacularly designed and massive, filled with many volumes, manuscript holdings, and collections of authors’ works — including those of Shakespeare.
Although Robarts is the biggest of all libraries on campus, I’d also recommend Gerstein Science Information Centre, which can be found at the heart of UTSG, King’s College Circle. If you are looking for a cozy library with a unique architectural design, Hart House Library, Innis College Library, Knox College Library, Massey College Library, Trinity College Library, Victoria College’s EJ Pratt Library, and Emmanuel College Library could all be great options.
If you are a student at UTM, consider exploring all the floors at the U of T Mississauga Library and using the Bentall Capital Roof Garden as an alternative study space.
If you are a student at UTSC, the U of T Scarborough Library similarly has many floors to discover and an array of outdoor spaces nearby.
I’ll admit that I still haven’t been to some of U of T’s libraries, but that’s the exciting part about being a U of T student: there are always new places to discover. For anyone who is academically focused yet eager for an adventure and change of scenery, exploring historical and well-designed libraries can be something for you to look forward to.
Alessia Tenaglia is a third-year English, history, and sociology student at St. Michael’s College.