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My day begins traditionally with me struggling to wake up. Just so you know, I have an incredible ability to sleep, oversleep and then sleep some more. However, I still make it to most of my lectures and seminar class. I get out of bed, have breakfast then rush to catch the bus. I live 30 minutes walking distance away from the campus, but I choose a 15-minute bus ride in the winter because it’s too cold to walk.

The buses here in downtown Ottawa are crazy in the morning: people rushing to work and school, trying to cram everyone on the bus. Yet I always love this vibe of the city. Another plus point living in Ottawa is that the bus drivers always make your morning with their smiles and “Hi, bonjour.”

My classes usually start at 10 a.m. every morning and end around 5:30 p.m. in the afternoon. Since students can arrange their class schedules in university, I chose to register most of my lectures in the morning, which is when my brain works the best, and seminar classes in the afternoon; so that I have enough time in the evening to review the materials or study in the library.

While having a break between classes, I usually hang around campus with my friends, getting Starbucks and complaining how freezing and snowy it is outside. Since I always stay on campus for the whole day, instead of going back home for lunch, I have a sandwich or a tuna wrap from the school bakery or the Subway across the street. Sometimes I pack my own lunch, like fried rice, but not that often.

Even though lectures with the professors are interesting and enjoyable, I still find seminar classes are more useful and comprehensible. This is because the class size for each seminar is much smaller than the lecture hall (around 20-30 students per seminar); therefore, I have the opportunity to ask questions about the new material, reinforcing my understanding. It is hard to ask questions in a big lecture hall, but definitely easier to do so in seminar.

After seminar class, I often meet up with my friends to work on assignments together. Study group is common in university, and it is really beneficial when doing assignments, or reviewing for exams. We always have a bit of a laugh, and sometimes get ourselves distracted, but it has always been productive.

Maintaining a good academic standing is important, but getting involved in extra-curricular activities is the best part of my university life. Outside the classroom, I take part in DECA club, which is a debate team, and I’m also a mentor for exchange students at the university. These activities enable me to practice communication and interpersonal skills, as well they give me a chance to meet new people, network, and enjoy more sociable time.

After a long day at school, I go home by bus. And on every Tuesday, I stop by Loblaws to do some grocery shopping for the week.  I start cooking around 7p.m., then have dinner and clean the dishes. My dinner is mostly simple, Asian style, with rice, soup and a gourmet dish. My cooking skill has been improving since I started living by myself, which is something I’m really proud of.

Getting to my desk at 8p.m., I review my notes from class, complete exercise questions and assignments. In three and a half hours of studying, I always reward myself with a 15 minute break to go on Facebook, or to watch a quick Youtube video before getting back to work. And before going to bed, I do some readings for the following day lecture, and pack my bag.

Lying in bed, I talk to my parents for a little bit, setting the alarm and checking Facebook while listening to some music, then I fall asleep at around 12a.m.

Ivy Nguyen - Second Year Student, University of Toronto