Frosh Tips: Adjusting to university on a downtown campus

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By Tyler Griffin

Here at The Eyeopener, we look out for our bright-eyed froshies. Especially those new to Ryerson’s blend of student life and the buzz of downtown Toronto. If you’re someone who comes from farmland like me, or grew up in the ‘burbs, moving to the big smoke can be a shock. Especially when there’s no one to tell you the do’s and don’ts of living that good city life. Here are a few tips for you to show off your street smarts when your pleb friends come to visit from Queen’s.

Practice the art of saying no to hecklers 

Our proximity to Yonge-Dundas means you’re going to be bombarded by people asking for your money—buskers, charity workers and more. Try to suppress your inner Canadian and resist stopping to hear them all out. They’ll hold you hostage for 40 minutes, trying to get you to sign up for their mailing list with your credit card info. There’s nothing wrong with being charitable, but if you shell out your money to every heckler on the street, you’re going to go broke pretty quickly. And be warned: if you stop to watch a street performer or take their photo, they’re not going to let you walk away before you fork over some of your hard-earned cash. 

The birds fear nothing, not even death  

If you don’t believe me, look deep into their beady eyes and you’ll see only the abyss staring back. Our working theory here at The Eye is that these birds came through a portal to hell that once opened in the Yonge St. McDonald’s. Be aware that these hell creatures are not afraid to fly smack into you while you’re rushing to class. These flying fiends have struck fear into the hearts of Ryerson students, ever since that infamous hawk devoured a pigeon on campus while bystanders watched

Get familiar with your surroundings 

Don’t become one of those first-years who have never ventured outside Dundas Square by April. You now go to school in Canada’s largest metropolis—take advantage of the many vibrant and diverse communities that exist in the vast cultural pool that is Toronto. My advice: block out a few days in your frosh schedule to just walk around. While I was in residence, each week I would pick a day and a direction (say, west to Kensington Market or south to the Harbourfront), and just walk to see what I would find. It helped me familiarize myself with Toronto’s grid system and even pick out a few cool spots I wanted to revisit with friends. I know the subway can be a stressful and foreign undertaking for new Torontonians, but all it takes is paying your fare and going the wrong direction once or twice to get the hang of it. Follow the CN Tower home if you ever get lost. 

The stench on Gould St. 

Have you smelled it? That smell. The smelly smell in front of the Sheldon and Tracy Levy Student Learning Centre that smells… smelly. It hits you like a freight train the minute you turn onto campus from Yonge and Dundas. If you must venture this way, plug your nose at all costs, brave traveller. One froshie, after mistakenly inhaling the smell for too long, said that the next day, snakes began to manifest in their house physically. Nah, I’m teasing. But it will probably seep into your clothes and ruin your day if you stand in the scent too long. Consider coming in from Church Street. 

Get ready to become desensitized *dabs*  

Student life on an urban campus can be pretty jarring at first. There’s drug use and homelessness on and around the corner from Ryerson. You’re going to get screamed at by randos. Your Rye email will be constantly bombarded by security incident updates ranging from campus assaults to robberies. This is good, in a sense, as you might be exposed to experiences beyond your own privilege. By the end of your first semester, you won’t bat an eye at all the fucked up stuff that takes place around you. Just try to not become apathetic about it. 

Watch your fast food intake  

Studying on a commuter campus off Yonge makes it incredibly easy to blow tons of money on cheap fast food between classes. Don’t be like our last Arts & Life editor, Premila D’Sa, who spent $2,000 at the campus Metro in her first year. You’re an academic now; neither your brain nor your wallet can afford to run off Burger King. Get in the habit of prepping your meals in advance if you’re going to be spending all day on campus. If you need to grab a quick lunch, try a cheap, healthier alternative around campus like H Mart or Freshii. While handling a university workload, it’s easy to forget how much a salad and a few trips to the gym can boost your spirits.

Feel the wrath of the fashion students 

In addition to being smack in the middle of Canada’s fashion capital, Ryerson is home to one of the top fashion schools in the country. Don’t make the mistake I did in my first week by wearing sweatpants to class. The fashion students run in hordes, and they will find you. Their expressionless gazes will shame you all the way back to whatever small Ontario town you came from. 

Get out there, try things you never usually would

The people you meet and experiences you have as a freshman may come to define the next four years of your life here. Take every opportunity you can to do something you haven’t before, especially if it’s something you think you wouldn’t usually be into. Make your way down to The Velvet Underground and catch a punk show. Get involved with a student group you’re interested in, like the Ryerson Anime Club. Drop by Ram in the Rye for Tuesday night karaoke and unleash your inner Mariah Carey. Or, come hang out with us in The Eye office! Actively go out  of your way to look for experiences you’re interested in. You’ll discover interests you never knew you had in you and likely meet some wonderful people along the way.

Just, never buy a fake ID from one of the shops on Yonge.

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