Surviving a University Course-Preparation and Your First Class

This post is a continuation of surviving a university course series. You can find the first post here, and more posts about university here.


Congratulations! You’ve managed to register for courses, and now that you’re all moved in, it’s time for the first day of class. But before you go to your first class, here are the things you should remember to do:

  1. Find out what textbooks you’ll need for each course. However, unless you’re 100% sure they won’t get changed by the prof, wait until after the first class to buy them.
  2. Get your university ID and any paperwork you need to do before the first day.
  3. Find out where your classes are on campus. Especially if you’re in first year or new to campus, find time to explore your campus to get a sense of where things are.
  4. Buy school supplies! Find yourself some cute notebooks, binders, and lots of writing supplies. And, if you’re using a laptop, get all the tech gear you’ll need for the year.
  5. Get everything ready the night before the first day of class, and get a good nights rest to have plenty of energy for it.

Since you’ve got all the prep work done for the first day of class, here’s what you should do when it actually arrives:

  1. Get to classes a bit early, to find a good seat for your learning needs.
  2. Listen very carefully to the syllabus. Profs usually go over important deadlines, textbook information, and mark breakdown the first class.
  3. Introduce yourself to some of your seatmates or classmates. Making friends in class will save your grades later during crunch time.
  4. Ask questions if you have any! It’ll help you be clear on class expectations and might help you decide if you want to stay in the class.
  5. Go and buy your textbooks after your first classes. There are usually textbook buy and sell groups on Facebook as well, so you might be able to get your textbooks for cheaper.
  6. Put all the important dates for assignments and tests in your calendar, as well as professor contact information and office hours. I really like using the iStudiez Pro app for this, since it also allows you to track marks.

What do you guys do to prepare for the first day of class? Let me know down below!

-Mel.

Back to School-What’s in My Backpack?

Since it’s that time of year when I start wearing a backpack everywhere, I decided to make a post on what I keep in it!

So, without further ado, here’s what I keep in my backpack!

  1. A pencil case full of beautiful pens. I love having a lot of different coloured and fancy pens since I write a lot.  I’d also recommend keeping pencils, highlighters, a USB, and sticky notes in your pencil case.
  2. A water bottle, full to the brim. It never ever hurts to be hydrated! And, if you’re not so keen on plain water, grab something like MiO to mix in.
  3. My laptop or tablet! Since I’m writing for the school paper this year, having either is essential for writing and research. I recommend anyone looking for a laptop to get something compatible with the software the campus uses, and something that’s lightweight.
  4. Snacks! When the study sessions or back to back classes prevent you from running to meal hall, these will save you.  Try and take healthy items as well!
  5. Notebooks, the three subject ones from Hilroy. I carry these around for notes, as I learn things better from lectures when I write them down.
  6. A power bank, or phone chargers. Somehow either my iPod or phone always starts dying, so I carry around a power bank with small charging cables for both of my devices.  It’s also useful if your university campus is short on power outlets.
  7. A jacket or a sweater. Study spaces have a magical ability to be too warm or too cold, so it’s best to have an extra layer. Plus, with wacky weather in Canada, a jacket is always a good idea.
  8. Pins or anything to decorate your backpack. I’m a huge fan of putting far too many fandom pins on my backpack to stand out from the crowd. Why have the same backpack as everyone else when you can have the Tardis on yours?
  9. My textbooks as needed. I don’t usually carry around textbooks, just since mine are usually as heavy as bricks. I will carry around small novels for classes, like Frankenstein or the Book Thief.
  10. Some money or my wallet.  Chances are, I’ll make a food or coffee run, so it’s best to be prepared for those breaks.

What do you guys keep in your backpack that I’ve missed? Let me know down below!

-Mel.

Back To School-Advice to University Frosh

Starting university is pretty daunting, especially the first year. You have this to do list that stretches on for ages, you’ll be meeting a lot of new people, adjusting to a new place, and having to get back to studying.

If you’re a frosh, and just panicked slightly from reading that last sentence, take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay, you will survive your first week, first month, and first year at university.

Now, since you took that deep breath, here are my tips on how to survive your first year on campus!

  1. Enjoy every moment of frosh week. Do all the activities, eat all the free food, and go down a jello slide or two. You will treasure these memories for the rest of your life, and make some amazing friends. Us older students are always jealous we can’t do it over again every year.
  2. Use your meal hall or food swipes. Even though I can guarantee that by the end of the first few months you’ll be sick of campus food, use your swipes. Take the unlimited food (and chocolate milk) for granted while you can.
  3. Get a feel for the campus and the town or city you’re living in when you arrive. Knowing where things are will make you feel all the more confident.
  4. Try to not skip classes, and don’t be that person who just shows up for finals. You might not want to go to that early class, but your marks will thank you for showing up later on.
  5. Get involved on campus. There are so many clubs and activities you can join, and chances are that there’s a night where they showcase all these organizations on campus. Plus, first year is a great time to get involved since you’ll have a bit more free time.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether you need to change courses, your scholarship money got messed up, or anything else, ask for help when you need it. It’ll save you headaches later on, and there are people on campus whose job is to help guide you through any problems. 
  7. Try to get along with your roommate(s), and people in your building. Unless you’re stuck in a terrible situation, you’ll make friends really fast that way. Plus, they might save you later on by letting you use their printer for a last minute essay.
  8. Get some school spirit. Even if you’re not the biggest sports fan, you can still be proud of your school. Help out with the student union, get a positive residence rivalry going on, or pop by the rink to watch your team play hockey. It’s really easy to show your support for your campus.
  9. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. I know how difficult it can be to push yourself when you’re in a completely new environment, but it’ll teach you a lot of valuable life lessons. I know I’ve met some great people at university just by saying hello, and found what I’m passionate about by trying something new.
  10. Stay in touch with friends and family back home. If you live across the country from them like me, having their support is fantastic for getting through homesickness. Plus, long chats with family and friends always make you feel better.
  11. If you’re unhappy with your program, what you’re studying, or university in general, that’s okay. First year is a learning experience, and if it teaches you that you like something else or that you don’t like university, that’s great. You can always change classes or programs, no matter what the university website says.

What do you guys wish you’d done differently first year, or what do you wish you’d known? Leave them down in the comments below!

-Mel.

Back To School-What to Pack

As much as I hide away a lot of my stuff in campus storage every year, I still have to lug most of my things for university across the country. So, for those headed off to university that need to pack all their life belongings into a few suitcases, I’ve got you covered.

Here are my tips for what to pack, and what to leave behind.

What to Pack:

  1. Portable electronics you’ll need. This means your cell phone, iPod, laptop, and all those goodies. Make sure you pack all the necessary chargers and cases as well.
  2. Any prescription medication, glasses, and prescriptions. Do not forget any medications you are taking or will need to take. Having all of these will save you many hours at the doctor or pharmacist, and keep you healthy.
  3. A few school supplies. You don’t need to bring every notebook and pen in your room, but if you want to pack some essentials in a pencil case, that’s perfect. You can always buy more when you get to campus.
  4. Clothes, of course! Try and pack items that can easily be layered or worn through multiple seasons. Make sure you do have clothes for nights out, interviews or other formal events, and for comfort. Don’t forget underwear, bras, socks, or pajamas too!
  5. Some special things from home. This could be anything from family photos to a special scarf. It’s really nice to have at least a small part of home at university.
  6. A backpack and a small everyday bag. You’ll need a backpack for university, and often I use mine as my carry on bag for flying. I also usually pack a small purse for nights I want to go out, or if I’m up to something off campus.
  7. A small first aid kit. Trust me, nothing’s worse than getting a small injury or a headache, so it’s best to have some supplies on hand. I usually keep a variety of band-aids, some Polysporin, medical tape, gauze, and Advil in my first aid kit.
  8. Various forms of ID. When you’re off at university, you’ll probably need ID at some point for anything from going out to getting a job. I would recommend you have your passport or provincial ID, driver’s license, student ID (if you have it already), health insurance, and health care cards.
  9. Your wallet and debit/credit cards. Even if your bank account is a little low from tuition and textbooks, how else are you going to buy anything you need?

What Not to Pack:

  1. Bedding and Pillows. Unless you’re driving up to school or have a very special blanket you need, it’s best to buy these when you get to campus. They’re very bulky, and chances are there’s a store nearby that sells them.
  2. Lots of shoes, because they’re bulky. I recommend that when you’re packing to choose shoes that look good with everything, and that you can wear in any season. You can also pack more shoes if they can be packed flat.
  3. A ton of makeup, or toiletries. You can always buy shampoo, soap, and most makeup at stores around campus when you get there.
  4. Textbooks. Unless it’s as thin as a book you’re reading for pleasure, it’s best to get these when you’re on campus. Plus, these make your bag more liable to be overweight if you’re traveling by plane.
  5. Food. Unless it’s plane snacks that you really need, don’t pack food. You’ll probably do a massive grocery trip once you’re back on campus, or you won’t really need any if you’re eating in meal hall.
  6. Lots of cooking or cleaning things. You can purchase these later on along with food, and usually in first year, you won’t need these as much. If you do purchase these items over the year, find somewhere to store them for summer.
  7. Heavy jackets, winter boots, or other seasonal attire. Since winter is over the school year, it can be tempting to pack all of your winter gear at once. My advice is to either get all those shipped to you right before the season changes, swap out seasonal clothes during trips home, or leave it in storage on campus.
  8. Lots of room decorations. As much as having a cute dorm room is great, I don’t recommend you pack a lot of decorations. Instead, buy them during the school year, and keep them in storage.

What do you guys usually pack or not pack, or what have I missed? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

-Mel.

Surviving a University Course-Registration

Since I’ve got two years of university under my belt, I figured it was time I started a series on how to survive university courses.

I hope you guys enjoy this series, and if you have any requests for future posts or advice on anything university related, let me know!


Registering for courses is one of the most important steps after you get into university. After all, you’ll be choosing which courses you’re interested in, or ones that will be useful for your future career. Here are my tips to make the process easier!

  1. Figure out what your program requires so that you know what mandatory courses you have to take. Usually, this isn’t such a big issue for first year, but keeping them in mind will help you make sure you graduate!
  2. If you’re not sure about requirements, ask for help from the academic advising office. They can usually point you in the right direction, and come up with a course pattern that fits your needs.
  3. Find out when registration is. Some universities do it at the end of the winter semester, and some in the summer. Make sure you take time zones into account for your registration time!
  4. If the university releases the course list and schedule before registration, try and plan out a schedule that works. Don’t forget to factor in labs or tutorials into your schedule as well.
  5. Come up with some backup courses in case the ones you want cause time conflicts or fill up.  That way, you won’t panic during registration when your first choice is unavailable.
  6. Register on the specified date and time and hopefully you get into everything you want. If you have any problems, don’t be afraid to email to get help. Remember, there is always time to swap courses before the semester starts!

Do any of the university students out there have any suggestions for registration? Leave them down in the comments if you do!

-Mel.

My Summer Reading List

Since it’s that time of year when I’m on vacation from all the required readings for university courses,  I decided to put together a list of what I’m hoping to read instead.

I hope that my reading picks for the summer inspire you guys to maybe expand your reading lists or add some of my picks to them!

So without further ado, here’s my summer reading list:

  1.  The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Since I was at work one day and came across that there’s a new TV series being based on this book, I decided to give it a read. It’s definitely not for younger audiences, but it is a very thought provoking work.
  2. John A: The Man Who Made Us by Richard Gwyn: Usually I’m not a terribly big fan of Canadian history, but this is an interesting biography of Sir John A. Macdonald. Not to mention, given it was just the 150th anniversary of Confederation, it seems only appropriate to learn a bit more about the country I call home.
  3. They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children by Romeo Dallaire: Since I read Dallaire’s book about the Rwandan genocide and found it to be amazing, I decided to pick up his other book the last time I was at Chapters. So far I’ve only read a chapter, but it is very informative and well written.
  4. The Craft and Business of Writing by Writer’s Digest Books: I picked this book up as something to read when I’m stuck in a rut with my writing, and just for inspiration. Especially for all those (like me) going into new jobs where writing is paramount, it might be good to take a look at.
  5.  Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth: I haven’t picked this book up yet, but since I loved Divergent I figured I’d check out her latest work! It sounds like a very promising summer read.
  6. The Atlantic and The Diplomat Magazine: Since I will be writing for the school paper this next year, there’s nowhere better to look for writing inspiration. Shout out to my dad for giving these to me as a birthday present!
  7. The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford: I picked this up on yet (another) Chapters run because it looked intriguing. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m sure I will one of these summer nights.
  8. The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine: After hearing many a time about this influential work, I decided to give it a read. I’m sure it will enlightening and useful going forward with more political science and philosophy classes.
  9. The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper by Maxim Jakubowski and Nathan Braund: This is probably one of the darkest summer books I picked up, but ever since I traveled to London I’ve been fascinated with Jack the Ripper. I wouldn’t recommend reading this late at night, as it goes into a lot of detail about the murders. If you’re into this kind of book, I also recommend you check out Last Podcast on the Left and their series of podcasts on Jack the Ripper.

What are you guys reading? Leave your favorite pick down below in the comments!

-Mel.

P.S. Sorry for the long gap between posts, I took a much needed break! I do have a bunch of great posts queued up for the upcoming school year, so keep your eyes peeled for those!

The Best Shows For History Lovers

Since I am a history major and spend a decent amount of time in front of Netflix and watching random videos, I figured I’d share my favorite history related shows or series with you guys!

Shows That Draw on Historical Events:

  1. Outlander: Even though this show does revolve around historical events in Scotland, I think what makes it so compelling is the clash of old and new. I would also be in for time travel through stones too if the opportunity presented itself.
  2. When Calls The Heart: This show is the closest representation of what I’ve always imagined Western Canadian history playing out. It’s almost the Canadian version of Little House on the Prairie in my opinion. 
  3. X-Company: I’m pretty sure I’ve already mentioned this show, but I love it since it mashes all my favorite history together. You’re in for a wild ride in this world of spies, WW2, and Canadian history.
  4. The Crown: I’ve always been interested in the British monarchy, so I was absolutely thrilled when Netflix made this show. I also enjoy the fact that Prince Philip is played by Matt Smith, so maybe the Doctor actually does protect the Queen!

Non-Fiction Shows:

  1. Love, Hate, and Propaganda: This multi-part CBC series explores mainly history and propaganda throughout WW1, WW2, and the Cold War. It’s fascinating to watch how much of a role propaganda plays. 
  2. Engineering an Empire: This show is made by the folks from the History Channel, and is really good. It traces the impact of things from architecture to weapons technology and how they shaped empires from Russia to Ancient Greece.
  3. CrashCourse History: You can find these on YouTube, where John Green (Yes, the one who wrote TFIOS) teaches history. These episodes have saved my butt when I’ve needed a brush up on broader history, or just to inform myself.
  4. World War Two In Colour: You know all those boring WW2 documentaries they show in history class that are all in black and white? Here’s your solution-WW2 films restored with colour, so you learn your history the cool way.

What are your favourite series or shows that are based around historical events? Leave them down in the comments!

-Mel.

8 Things I Love About Buffy

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of the first shows that really sucked me into the world of sci-fi and fantasy shows. It has a special place in my heart, and I’m hoping to one day get a Buffy cosplay put together.

Anyways, these are my top 8 reasons why I love the show:

  1. The 90s fashion-I love all the outfits, especially Willow’s interesting sweaters.
  2. The boys-whether you’re team Angel, Spike, or Riley, there’s a favorite for everyone.
  3. Giles-Even though he has a smaller role as a Watcher, his sarcasm and exasperation with life are great watching the show, especially now that I’m older.
  4. The Scoobies-I’m so glad the gang grew as the show went on, since the mix of people is awesome. I’m personally a giant fan of Willow.
  5. The monsters-Even though the show is mostly about vampires, the big bads and variety of monsters always makes it exciting.
  6. Willow and Tara’s relationship-Their healthy same sex relationship is something that rarely happens in shows, and that’s amazing. Plus they’re adorable together!
  7. It deals with the tough stuff-From death to breakups, Buffy presents a good example for how to deal with the hard things life throws at us. Especially since it’s from the perspective of mainly young adults, it’s very relatable.
  8. Buffy herself-She’s definitely one of my favorite strong female TV characters. Even though she’s got pretty admirable traits, the fact that she’s not perfect and makes mistakes makes her realistic and relatable.

I hope these reasons convince you guys to watch a few episodes! And, feel free to leave your favorite things about Buffy or favorite episodes in the comments.

-Mel.

Life Update!

Hey guys!

Sorry for not posting anything last week, the last three weeks of school have been crazy busy for me. On the upside, today is the last day of classes, so I’m almost done the school year!

Otherwise, I have a bit of news that will affect the future of this blog.

I am going to be a staff writer for my school newspaper for this coming school year, which means I will have less time to write on here. I’m not sure yet if it means the posting schedule will get changed, or if I’ll post links to the work I’m doing at the paper. I’ll have to figure that out in September when I see how much work I’ll be putting into the paper.

In any case, I will be going back to the regular posting schedule at least up until the beginning of September.

Have a good Friday!

-Mel.

History Party

This is part of a series on famous figures at parties, see the earlier philosophical party here.


Cleopatra wanders around the party, followed by Julius Caeser and Marc Anthony. Caeser wanders off at some point, pisses a few people off and gets stabbed multiple times.

Caligula tries to make his horse a consul, while Nero watches Rome burn.

The explorers Columbus, Cartier, and Cabot sit around swapping stories about the “New World.”

King Louis XVI and Marie Antionette try to hide from some French Revolutionaries, including Robespierre.

Rasputin creeps around Nicholas II of Russia and his wife, Alexandra. They later disappear with the rest of their family.

Alexander the Great exchanges battle tactics and empire building hacks with Genghis Khan and Napoleon in the corner.

King Henry VIII brags to anyone who will listen about his six wives, while his daughter Elizabeth I chats with Shakespeare.

Stalin, Marx, and Lenin talk of communism, while Hitler and Mussolini pout in the corner when Churchill and FDR walk past.