This month, Team Awesome are waxing philosophical and pondering why we are here at Glendon.
All roads lead to Glendon. I realised this in hindsight.
When pondering this month’s theme #WhyAreYUHere, it’s not really a matter of why I chose to be here: Glendon was not my first choice school. It was barely even a choice: I first heard of it in an email from a prof in mid-July, and a month later I had applied to transfer, accepted my offer, and bought my frosh kit. And yet, the more I think about it, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. I’m the kind of person who always thinks about how I would go back and do my life differently – but I wouldn’t redo this. I wouldn’t go back and change my major, I wouldn’t go back and undo my transfer, I wouldn’t choose to be elsewhere. For me, it’s not about why I chose to be here, but why I’m so heart-flung-open, yelling-my-thanks-to-the-universe grateful that I ended up here.
I’m a literature student to the core. I believe in foreshadowing. Looking back, in so many aspects of my life lay clues that my path would lead me to Glendon, and that I belong here.
In my first ever undergraduate lecture, the first thing the prof said was “you’re all going to have to learn another language. I’m in my 50s and I’ve just started learning my sixth language – if you’re going to be a linguist, monolingualism isn’t really an option”. It planted the seed in my mind that giving up my French and Spanish at GCSE level four years earlier had been a massive mistake. I downloaded Duolinguo and started trying to pick up where I’d left off. My practice was sporadic, but I met a Moroccan waiter in Cardiff who offered to tutor me in French once I came back in second year. That never happened, because that summer I ended up transferring to Glendon… where I’m taking a bilingual degree.
Glendon gives me the flexibility to shape my degree around my interests. It offers courses like Children’s Lit, Language Endangerment (incredible course taught by the inimitable Bruce Connell, would highly recommend) and Case Studies in Canadian Aboriginal Languages that advocate for diversity, social justice, and representation within academia. Glendon is giving me a chance to learn French while doing a degree that will open a whole spectrum of doors and gives me a slew of transferable skills.
When I started looking at unis in my final year of school, I was adamant that I did NOT want a campus university. I was sure that I would prefer a uni that was more integrated into its city, that was a part of the fabric of the community. My naive 17 year old self didn’t realise at the time that campuses often create their own community. I loved Cardiff Uni, but I felt so isolated and lacking in community while I was there. It was harder than I realised to put down roots when everyone was so spread out. Here, you can’t walk across campus without being greeted by at least one familiar, friendly face. Here, I’m as much a part of Glendon as I am a part of Toronto. And even with my accent, nobody really questions that this is my home, that I belong here as much as anyone else.
During my gap year, I worked in a tea shop in Toronto’s east end. I was the second-youngest kid in the store and I looked up to my coworkers like an adoring kid sister. In my eyes, they were the coolest, smartest, most interesting people ever. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, to finish a lecture and travel across the city to a job I enjoyed, and then head back downtown for a night out? It sounds ridiculous, and I’m laughing at myself as I type this, but at the time the idea of being so integrated into the city seemed so exciting and grown-up. (Let’s not forget: I grew up in a tiny, National Heritage town that you could walk end-to-end in about an hour or two).
These days, I study in the Bridlepath; I work downtown; I hang out with my friends in cool independent coffee shops and diverse neighbourhoods; I live near the lake. It’s much less romanticised than it was in my 19 year old head, but it still takes me aback when I think about how lucky I am. Toronto is such a special city and I think sometimes I take for granted what a joy it is to live and study here.
I’ve always been a writer. As a child, I’d always be making up stories and songs, captivating my audience of younger siblings with outlandish narratives, writing secretive short stories, shining in English lessons – but I had so rarely shared my work with anyone.
I started my first blog when I was newly out of high school. It was the first time I had given myself a platform to write and be read, and from my very first post I was drunk on a heady cocktail of terror, joy, and inspiration. I blogged about my experiences during my gap year, and I scoured the internet for blogs that would tell me what university would really be like, beyond the parties and all-nighters.
During my first year of uni, my blog became my pride and joy: I wanted to share the experience of being at university for those who didn’t know what to expect. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that in just a few months, I would be getting paid to do exactly that. For the last decade of my life, people have told me that it’s all very nice that I liked writing, but I would need to get a “real job”. Now, my “hobby” is the day job, and retail is the side hustle. Thanks to Glendon, I currently have three years of paid writing experience under my belt. The eAmbassador blogs were my saving grace when I was in the process of transferring, and I immediately knew that I wanted to be part of the team – and it’s been the highlight of my university experience. It’s where I met some of my best friends. It’s where I got some of the best learning experiences of my life. It’s where I found mentorship, encouragement, and my best self. I get to be a part of the most supportive and inspiring team of creatives: people who encourage each other, share opportunities and advice, and go to Pickle Barrel after meetings because we love each other.
How did I get here? I’m still not entirely sure. Partly luck, partly destiny, probably. But why am here? Because I belong here. And I’m so, so happy about it.