First World Sob Story: I Need a New Phone, Do You?



My iPhone 4 is crashing. And I’ve been complaining about it for months.

I haven’t even had this phone for very long—about two years. I bought it from my boss at my last job, and I’m sad to say that I think it is flashing its last screens.

The apps are lagging. Sometimes, when friends send me videos on Snapchat the app completely freezes and I have to delete and re-add it from the App Store.

The texts aren’t sending. And I don’t have a data plan, so I can’t use iMessage or WhatsApp unless I’m on campus or at home. Last Thursday, my texts froze for 24 hours. I couldn’t send or receive any messages. What if I was commuting, or out of town, or getting attacked by wolves??

Perhaps Apple is out to get me with a phone that doesn’t support all of their software updates (iOS 8 why you do this) so that I’m forced to upgrade. Or perhaps I’ve just dropped my phone too many times.

Regardless, I recently found myself needing (wanting) a new phone.

Problem! I’m a broke university student who, despite majoring in CCIT, knows close to nothing about these technology-text-call-device-thingies. And if you’re reading this, you’re one of two types of people:

1. You know about phones or;

2. You don’t.

And for the #2s who are looking for #1s, rejoice! Although I am also a #2, I have a liiiiittle bit of knowledge I’ve gathered in my phone-hunt that I’d like to share with you. And for you #1s: please share advice.

The first thing I’ve gathered is to have your own parameters set for what you want, especially a budget and a size. For example, I want a good camera and high- speeds. My budget is low and I want the phone to fit in my wallet.

Then call your phone company. Actually, call all of the phone companies! Tell Bell what Rogers said, and Rogers what Bell said, ask loads of questions about prices and what you want from a phone, and if you have any upgrades available.

Ask yourself the big question: iPhone or Android?

Tell as many people as you can that you’re looking for a new phone: friends, coworkers, family, the guy across the street—you never know who’s selling or who has suggestions. People sell phones in great condition on Kijiji, but be cautious of scams.

If you can’t go into a store where they sell phones, watch videos of phone comparisons. This can give you an idea of the size of a phone, the feel of the phone in your hand, and how the phone is doing in the market. Someone told me this week that it’s all about “the specs,” or the features on the phone. Videos tell you the specs in detail!

Check out this awesome YouTube channel called PhoneDog, where I’ve been watching some comparison videos.

A couple of the new phones that I’ve found in the constantly updating market are the Nexus 5 and 6, the iPhone 6, the Samsung Galaxy S5, the OnePlus One, the LG G3, the Sony Xperia Z3, and the HTC Desire. Google away, friends!

And most importantly (unlike me, still on the hunt!), make a sound decision before your phone actually crashes. You have been warned. Good luck, phone warriors.



Add the layers. Bundle up. If you don’t have a hat, gloves, and scarf, this is the time to invest in all three. The cold weather that makes Canada famous is starting, just in time for students to enjoy the frosty, bone-chilling—as some would call it (including me)— winds.

Yes, it is −30 degrees, but that isn’t a good enough reason to cancel school. On the bright side, especially when the sun is out, you are reacquainted with old friends. You have the opportunity to make new ones. It is a fresh and wintry start.

If you frequently check the Weather Network, you’ll notice radical drops in temperature, with subtle decreases. Does this mean we stay indoors? No. Realistically, would we like to? Most likely, probably, yes. When you feel walk around campus in the −30 degree weather, you start to wonder what’s wrong with the world, but should we shut ourselves in because of these chilly temperatures? No!

We all head to class, wait for the bus, and wonder how and why certain buildings aren’t equipped with heaters or still have the AC on… I mean really, it doesn’t need to be a sauna, but more cold—no, thank you.

  • Look for alternative routes to head to class. This is time to walk inside the CCT building rather than outside to head to IB, Kaneff, or the Student Centre.
  • Leave early, arrive early, and warm up.

For commuters, sadly, the shuttle buses aren’t heated and for some reason there is always that student who has to open the window and forgets to close it (don’t do this).

To make a possibly long blog post short, there is no escaping the cold weather and we can all enjoy complaining about the decreasing temperatures, but there is an easier way to start making things better. This doesn’t have to be a time of dreary, angry moments during a (soon to end) season.

Take control of what you want to do, regardless of the possible snowfall centimetres.

  • Time to curl up with that great book.
  • Get some coffee, hot chocolate, or another warm drink to heat up.
  • Head to the gym.
  • Spend time with some friends.
  • Take up a winter activity—skating, skiing, going to a warmer place.
  • Most importantly capture your cold moments. Look back in a few months and share the laughs, and the cries.

The Struggles of Being the Only Single Friend In Your Group.


1) Having no one to watch that new romantic comedy with because your friends already saw it last week—with he-who-must-not-be-named.

[All friends you’ve ever had in life, in unison]: ‘“Busy Friday night. Hanging out with [insert significant other’s name here].”


It’s okay girl. Netflix got you.

2) Having an uneven number of guys and girls in the picture—and it’s all your fault.


3) Giving attention to a guy you normally wouldn’t even consider.

(nervous laughter) Hahahha I’m only here because all my friends have boyfriends…


4) Your friends ask you for advice and you have little to no romantic life of your own to make reference to.


5) You advise them anyway—and then they praise you for your wonderful counsel and go, “OMG, how are you even single??”


I don’t know, Jessica. I don’t know.

6) Every time you hang out with just your girls it’s declared a “girls’ night!”, even though every night is basically a girls’ night for you.


7) Your friends tell you about all the new “‘firsts’” in the relationship. And when it’s your turn, you’re just like, “…I took the wrong bus by mistake yesterday… it It was a real adventure…”


8) Saying, “I have a boyfriend,” to guys you’re not interested in and on the inside you’re like “LOL”.


We all do it. At one point, I was saying it so often I was actually starting to believe it.

9) Your friends talk about the things their boyfriends buy them and you want those things too but wonder if it would be lame to buy it for yourself.


10) You all have Pandora bracelets—theirs were presents from their boyfriends and yours was a present from you.


11) When your friends say, “Don’t worry, you you’ll find someone.”

And you’re just like, “‘Should I be worried…?”


12) But hey, at least you know what you’re doing on valentines Valentine’s Day!


Have a Piece of Humble Pie


It’s great to be proud of yourself; we are all awesome people with unique talents, skills and personalities. The world is a unsettled place, but our lives lay ahead of us. We have destinies to forge, and potential greatness to realize. It’s the most exciting time in our young lives.

However, pride has its limits; beyond a certain point, it becomes distasteful to those around you. Ego has to be kept in check; we are all human, after all, and none of us are without our flaws. Thinking that we’re above the people around us, that we’re more important to the world than the strangers we pass by and meet everyday is an ideal that is destined to fail. As students at UTM, we still have a lot to learn about the real world and ourselves. We’re each the sum of different histories and experiences; don’t place yourself on a pedestal when you have no idea what other people have gone through. Their unknown hardships, and their evident compromises and triumphs, will surely make yours seem insignificant in comparison; if they compose themselves humbly, than you should to.

Humility is an under appreciated practice in our generation. Living within your means, not asking too much of others, choosing not to take yourself too seriously…these are all humble practices. They don’t devalue or depreciate you as an individual, they just make you more approachable, reliable and relatable. As cool as you think you are when you wear overpriced clothing or buy a new piece of technology, you will be even cooler to those around you when you present yourself as you really are. Look around and you’ll see dozens of teens who reflect what they believe society has determined to be favourable. They act like they don’t care about anyone else because that is apparently what justifies being cool. A totally flawed, totally misjudged perspective on being a member of the community in my opinion. They will find themselves eventually, because we all do in some way or another.

In simple terms, be yourself; when you’re proud of living as you truly are, everyone else will see it too. Respect yourself and those around you, but don’t lose sight of your own human vulnerability and fallibility. Have a slice of humble pie every once in a while… it’s better for you than you think.

To Speak or Not to Speak: Your Capacity to Act in the Face of Authority



I believe that power relations exist everywhere. Our lives as university students are riddled with them. Profs, parents, bosses, friends—our relationships with these people question our beliefs and what power we hold every day.

Personally, I can be short -tempered. Little things that people say, although I smile on the outside, can completely set me off on the inside.

Perhaps your beliefs are being questioned, or perhaps an authority figure in your life said something offensive, but if you’ve ever had an instance where your mind is screaming, “That’s unfair!” or, “That’s wrong!” or, “What did she just say?!”, you’ve probably experienced being set off too.

But when your prof or your mom or your boss or any figure holding authority in your life offends you, what should you do? If you speak up, what if the prof holds a grudge, or your mom doesn’t speak to you, or your boss fires you? All thoughts that rush through my head. And all manageable.

But it depends on the situation.

When a prof made me feel ridiculous in front of my entire class last semester for asking a simple question, I responded by writing a blog post, and even pasted the link to the post into my comments during course evaluations.

When one of my managers told me that I broke a speaker that I actually didn’t touch, I made a sarcastic comment.

On the contrary, when my mom tells me to clean the house… Well, I clean the house.

In my experience, we can speak out against situations that anger or offend us. I usually ask myself two general questions before voicing my opinion:

1) Is it worth it?

2) What’s the worst that could happen, realistically?

If you can’t handle the worst, you probably aren’t ready to handle the situation. I suggest taking a deep breath, and re-evaluating the situation. To comply or not to comply, to speak or not to speak—a moment’s thought can change how you respond to being offended, and how you respond reflects a little bit of you. What kind of person are you? What kind of person do you want to be?

We are all being shaped as people in our university experience. Our compliance is tested through how we interact with authority in our lives.

More often than not, I choose to stand up for my beliefs.

What situation will elicit a voice from you?

Perhaps There’s Hope…


You don’t hear about many acts of kindness in the world today; sadly, stories of tragedies and heartbreaks outsell ones of happiness and hope. It seems like unrequited generosity is a lost art to most people, and that is a troubling thought. We all have the capacity to do more for others, but we just as easily make excuses
as to why we can’t do those generous things. An unfortunate cycle that
perpetuates over and over again.

citizens are often the undeserving victims of this uncaring behavior. They are considered
by some to be fragile, naïve, obstructive, and are treated as such. We have all
been guilty of avoiding a senior instead of assisting them at some point in our
lives. We immediately regretted the decision, but we have sacrificed doing the
right thing to avoid feeling embarrassed. We know better now (or we should), but
we may not choose to act on our insight when a situation presents itself. We
let our own dilemmas distract us from doing the right thing sometimes, which is
a trait we all share that demands improvement.

there are people in our communities that embody selflessness and humility; we
all know and admire one person in our lives who are just like this. These aren’t
just good people, they’re great ones who do what’s right without expecting
compensation. They respect others in equal measure, regardless of differences
in age, physicality, or appearance. You don’t hear stories of their efforts
published in newspapers, but that doesn’t discourage their will to give back.

grandmother briefly met someone like this last week. She was at the nail salon,
waiting for her appointment, when a man entered. He had an appointment before
my grandmother, and apologized for making her wait. My grandmother thought
nothing of it, but thanked him anyways. After my grandmother had been served
and was at the register to check out, the owner of the salon told my
grandmother that she didn’t need to pay him anything. My grandmother,
perplexed, asked why. The owner revealed that the man from before had paid for
her $25 treatment. Unannounced, he did something incredibly kind for my
grandmother that she won’t soon forget. A kind gesture from a stranger, one that
most of us wouldn’t have even considered to do in the first place, made my
grandmother’s day. She has recounted it to anyone who will listen to her since.

the gentleman whose generous action put a smile on my grandmother’s face: your
unrequited kindness has made an impression on my family that is truly inspiring,
and for that we thank you. Acts of respect like yours prove to everyone around
you that they too can become a better person like you with ease. Your humility towards
an elderly woman you didn’t know, without the ego or desire to be formally
recognized for your action, speaks volumes about your extraordinary character.
If only we could all emulate your behaviours on an everyday basis, our
communities and societies would be happier and more prosperous places to live,
work, and participate in. Perhaps there’s hope for us yet; we just have to work
to make it a reality.

So let’s all do our part
for the community. Be the best person you can and learn to accommodate others
who are different or disadvantaged compared to yourself. There’s so much good
in the world—embrace it, and your perspective on life will change, guaranteed.

How Do You Handle Being Called Out?

Being called out on behaviour that is deemed unacceptable is problematic
for a lot of people. Being called out doesn’t mean getting your feelings hurt
or someone pointing out something feeble. A lot of celebrities recently have
been called out for saying very problematic things that “uphold the oppression
of a marginalized group of people” (YouTube user Chescaleigh). For many of us
who say and do such things, it is a strong belief that what we say shouldn’t
concern anyone else. We believe it is our right to have freedom of speech because
the Canadian Charter of Rights
protects us. However, once a line is crossed, freedom of speech starts to
become downright insulting and offensive to a marginalized group of people,
whether it be members of a certain race, religion, gender, sexual orientation,

So how do you deal with being called out? How do you properly apologize
when someone informs you that you shouldn’t say or do what you just did? How do
you handle it when someone calls you out for using the n-word and you’re very
clearly not in any position to be using that word?

Here are a few tips to help make your apology sincere:

1. Don’t become defensive. If anything you
want to say sounds something like, “You take everything so personally,” or, “It
was just a joke,” or, “I didn’t mean it like that”—don’t even think about it.
It is just an indication that whatever else you are about to say will be just
as insincere.

2. Don’t
apologize and then try to justify your actions.
Being downright
defensive is one thing, but if you say, “I’m sorry,” and the next word you say
is, “but,” do not go there. Chances are, you aren’t really sorry for what you

3. Understand
where they’re coming from.
What they feel is valid because they’re the ones being
oppressed, not you. Ignorance is not bliss. It just means you’re very unaware
of the social structures around you.

4. Don’t take it
The oppression is enacted upon the person calling you out or on the
person you are making jokes about; calling you out is a way to teach you and
educate you—it’s not about trying to make you feel extremely guilty or a
personal attack.

5. Apologize
Tell them you’re really sorry and that you didn’t know that it wasn’t
right to say something like that.

6. Make a
commitment to change.
Say something along the lines of, “How can I help?” or,
“I won’t do it again! Thank you for informing me.”

7. Remember that
calling someone out isn’t simple.
It isn’t easy for someone to gather the courage and
confront you about the things you say that are offensive and oppressive.

8. Work on ways
to help others and be a strong ally to those facing oppression by the greater
social structures around us
. Being called out is a way to remind you and
make you more aware. It’s to help you change. What we’ve been taught is
something we all have to unlearn. It will take time, but always be a strong
ally to those around you facing oppression.

Why We All Deserve a Break From Social Media


many of us, I recently succumbed to the stresses of social media and just quit.
I deactivated my Facebook, said goodbye to the Instagram app, and threw Snapchat
to the curb. I did, however, decide to keep Twitter—mostly because I use it
less for connecting with others and more for complaining about late buses and
the lack of/too much cream in my iced coffee.

is such a thing as too much connecting. Constantly updating your social media
on what’s new in your life, seeing everyone else’s updates and pictures of get-togethers,
etc… It’s exhausting.

Kardashian voice)

I’m just over it.

tired of knowing every little development in people’s lives—whether it be via
Facebook or Instagram—or any little, even moderately exciting thing that
happened to them recently (or that has ever happened to them, via the #tbt hashtag).
I also got tired of feeling the need to update everyone on my life. I mean, I
think there’s a very small handful of people who actually care, and I’d rather
just tell them myself.


I the only one who feels the need to scroll through her timeline sometime in
the morning until I’ve reached the batch of old ones I had already seen last
night? It’s a waste of time and I find myself getting bored doing it, but I
feel compelled.

there’s the struggle of having to think of creative ways to take pictures, with
creative angles and creative lighting; I just don’t want to, dammit.

my food is to eat, not to Instagram. I’ve grown tired of showing the world my
meal before it is viciously devoured by my carnivorous appetite. (On that note,
I’ve also grown tired of seeing everyone else’s meals seconds before their

also feel like it takes away from experiences—I want to go back to having a
great time without showing everyone what a great time I had.


I’m being honest, I just don’t understand the purpose of Snapchat. I just don’t
get it. I just don’t need/want to know what everyone I know is up to every day.
It’s one thing if it’s something particularly exciting, but the number of
selfies I used to receive and pictures of people holding their coffee or pouting
in front of their books… I just don’t get it. I just don’t.


big one. The king of all social media. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is
about Facebook, but it has recently taken up residence on my last nerve.
Perhaps the mindless scrolling and flooding of my mind with everyone else’s
thoughts via status updates and new photo albums has finally gotten to me.

in all, I’m just tired. I need some “me” time, time to grow on my own without
the constant watch/influence of 200 followers/followings on me, and I’m really
looking forward to seeing how different my life feels without a heavy online
presence. I’m also well aware that this change will not last forever. This is a
temporary hiatus, not the end of my social media career.

is not the last you will see of me, social media.

Pet Best Friends: The One Cuddly Thing Every University Student Needs



Mycat and I are best friends.

he can be kind of snobby. Sure, he can’t talk to me. And sure, he needs me to
clean up after him from time to time.

when I commute home after a day on campus, the one I can count on to greet me
when I walk through the door is my cat, Pippin. Yes, like the Hobbit from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

my opinion, every university student needs a pet. A fish, a dog, a cat, or a
bird; pets can keep you sane. Pippin, for example, cuddles with me. He knows
when I’m feeling down or sick and sits on me to make me feel better.

always got my back. Whether I’m studying, jamming, or sleeping, I can count on
Pippin to keep me company. He even has a sense of humour—sometimes, he sits on
my laptop and helps me procrastinate with his cuteness. Silly cat, you’re right—I
don’t have to do any work today!

pet will hear you out. When your human friends don’t have the time or patience
to listen to your rants, it’s comforting to know that your pet is there for
you. A pet will listen to your problems and offer cuddles and adorable stares
as a solution.

pets are proven to be stress busting. And between all of the tests, assignments,
midterms, and part-time jobs, I know we value stress busters. Remember how,
during exams, the library brings in puppies for us to pet? This decreases our
stress levels and gives us a break from studying. Imagine having a pet at your
convenience to bust your stress with their plush fur under your fingers.

great; trust me.

thing I especially value about having a cat is that he keeps my parents company
when I’m not home. Their only son, Pippin, ensures that my parents are
entertained throughout the day when I can’t be around.

what do you look for in a friend?

me needy, but I like good listeners, a good sense of humour, and the ability to
give me constant company and attention.

a pet, the soft fur (or feathers or scales) is just a bonus!

one constraint about having a pet is having the time to take care of them.
Friendship is a reciprocal act; pets need love and attention, too. And
grooming, and trips to the vet, and lots of your time and effort. If you don’t
have time to take care of a pet, this friendship route may not be for you.

Hopefully, I’ve given you some food for thought in terms of having a pet. Have more pros or cons to having a pet that I haven’t mentioned? Comment below!

The Future Is Uncertain… But That’s Okay!



Do you have it “figured out”? Do you know what you want to do with the rest of your life, what career you want to have in the future? If you answer yes, you’re
doing something right! For the vast majority of students who say no, don’t fret.
Unless you’re in fourth year—then perhaps “fretting” isn’t such a bad course of
action. It’s normal not to know where you want to go and what you want to do with
your life; choosing to go to UTM was hard enough. Mapping out the rest of our
lives… How the heck are we expected to do that when we can’t even decide on the
foods we want to eat and how we want to pass the time today? In my opinion, not
knowing what you want to do with your life at this very moment is okay; provided
are some examples and statistics that are aimed to ease some of your fears for
the foreseeable future. Of course, if you do currently have clear career goals,
please read on with those in mind; perhaps you’ll learn something that you hadn’t
considered before.

majority of jobs that current grade school students will have in the future haven’t
even been created yet. Please do some research online; you will find various
statistics to support this claim in some fashion. The dynamics of economies are
changing in light of technological advances, whether we want them to or not.
That means that you will likely be employed in a job later in your career that
doesn’t even exist yet. How do you even attempt to plan for 10 or 20 years in
the future when we don’t know what the job market will look like at that point
in time? As a UTM student, you have a wide variety of opportunities and events
to network with professionals and learn about the world at large. If you choose
to take advantage of as many of those experiences as you can, you will learn
new skills and advice that will benefit you later in life. Every experience,
good or bad, is a learning
experience; be open to these opportunities and your life may head in an
exciting and unexpected direction. If you have an interest in something, follow
up on it while you still have the time—you never know where it’ll take you.

lives, and indeed the world, will change in ways that we can’t even begin to
understand now. It goes without saying that your career plans will change too.
Very often, reality has a way of hitting us when we least expect it; our lives,
for better or worse, must adapt to those changes. It would be great for life to
play out exactly as we’d like it to, but that’s just not how it goes. How do
you make solid plans for the future when it can all shift so rapidly? That’s
why not knowing your career goals right now is okay; your
life may take an unexpected turn in the road, and your past goals may get replaced
by new ones that are more realistic to your situation. Work hard, confide in
others, believe in yourself, and refuse to give up. You’ll find your way, even though
it might take longer than you’d anticipated.

We will all find our path eventually… Some have
discovered it sooner than others, and that’s okay. The future is uncertain, and
that may seem quite scary to you. You’re not alone; there are probably hundreds
of students at UTM currently that don’t yet know where they want to end up in
the coming years. Don’t be afraid to try new things, to meet people, and to go
in unforeseen directions—easier said than done, but doable nonetheless. You might
just end up where you were meant to be—somewhere new, unexpected, and equally