Author: Carol Eugene Park

Did I make a major mistake?

  Around this time three years ago, I was applying to universities across Ontario and Canada. My friends were almost always discussing their top three choices and which residence buildings they wanted to live in. Some students in my graduating class worried about their low grades and the possibility of receiving a rejection letter. Others debated on which university to attend solely based on the party scene: the wilder the parties, the greater the interest. But the main theme of shared discussions amongst my peers was about the fear of choosing the wrong program. While some students were fortunate enough to know exactly what they wanted to study, many were unsure.   Fortunately, I had known I wanted to study English literature since middle school. As a child, I was a huge bookworm. I used to get in trouble for reading too much and staying up past my bedtime because I was so immersed in a novel. Unlike many of my friends, my parents took away my books and library card if I was grounded. Throughout grade school, my favourite period was “Silent Reading”—an hour dedicated to reading and nothing else. I preferred indoor recess because I could sneak into the library and read. High school was no different. I loved my English classes, and focused all my energy towards them. Most of my electives were either creative writing...

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What you should have known going into first year

Upon entering my first year at UofT, I believed in myself. You made it. A clean slate. An overwhelming yet endless amount of opportunities. The world is in the palm of your hands. Take what is yours, and enjoy the ride. I thought that I would accomplish many things, be successful in anything and everything I did. Upon entering my second year, I promised myself that I would put 110 percent into my academics because my first year was not a good representation of the kind of student I knew I could be. Upon entering my third year, I promised myself that I would try—just try to survive another year. The University of Toronto is an institution that can feel incredibly cold and isolating to its students. Some of the world’s most brilliant minds have studied here, and as a result, the pressure and expectation to accomplish the unachievable is evident. The intense desire to do well is constantly abuzz. It will get to the best of you and consume you, mentally and emotionally. In my first year, I had no one to confide in. I was uninformed about the resources that were available to me. The registrar’s office was intimidating, and my professors and TAs were like the gods of academia—untouchable and holy. I was afraid of everything at UofT. I remember wanting to get involved on campus, but...

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Bras, insecurity, and overcoming

For the majority of my teen years, my worth and value relied heavily on the size of my breasts. Perhaps it was a result of the culture I was brought up in, where beauty was found in a woman’s cup size. Perhaps it was the criticism that I was forced to endure on a daily basis from those who were closest to me. Regardless of how I gained a negative view of body image, it stuck with me all throughout my adolescent years, negatively affecting my perception of myself, and other women. I was a so-called “early bloomer” —menstruating earlier than my peers, and wearing underwire bras much sooner than the...

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