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Barbados Journal Oct 2018

I have spent the past month learning a great deal about Barbados, and myself. This month I discovered that selecting “allow dirt roads” on your GPS is a big mistake in Barbados.

It all came about on a beautiful sunny morning. I was driving the kids to school and a house fire on the main road had traffic backed up for miles. It gave me the perfect opportunity to explore the island and I’d grown fond of discovering new sights around every turn.

On a small island like Barbados one would think it hard to get lost… but the island is filled with roads and cart paths that run over all kinds of terrain. And in the wet season (September to November) they fill with mud and clay. The problem is that the cart paths show up on GPS apps as dirt roads, even when they are little more than tractor paths through banana fields. Combine this with a glorious sunny morning, an open road in front of you, and the kids singing “Country Roads” in the back seat and it’s easy to feel invincible.

As I drove along the heavily pot-holed pavement, the road turned into a dirt cart path, and I didn’t listen to that small voice in my head whispering – ‘STOP!’. The view was amazing; we were driving along the edge of a mountain with a steep cliff edge to our left and the mountain rising up on our right.

It had rained the night before and I began to worry when the car started sliding. The road was narrow and the drop steep. My knuckles turned white as I gripped the wheel. The car rounded a corner and I could see that a few meters ahead the steep cliff turned into a gently sloping hill, but the car starting sliding towards the edge of the cliff just as I rounded the corner, and I nervously gunned it along the path praying we’d make it to the hill. Luckily we got there and I thought about turning around but didn’t want to face that slippery corner again. So I kept going and drove the car straight into almost 3 feet of clay that had filled a dip in the cart path.

I looked down at my silk pants, white top and high heels and realized I might not make it to my morning meeting and the kids would miss school.

My son and I put sticks and branches under the tires and after about an hour of trying we rocked the car out of the big mud pit (with half of it all over us). I found a small promontory to turn the car around and slowly headed back to the main road. Getting out of the mud was satisfying, but I was taking it too slow and became stuck again. This time we were on an upward slope and there was no way that my son and I could rock the car out. Luckily some men had arrived to work in the fields and immediately offered to help. They easily pushed the car out and around the corner to the paved road.

The whole time this fiasco was going on my daughter was sitting in the back seat, taking picture and pointing out how beautiful the view was. When finally arrived back at the main road she commented “Mum you always find a way to make a perfectly ordinary day turn into an adventure.” And that is how I hope they view every stupid thing that I do!

I have noticed that I am beginning to lose some of the terribly selfish driving habits I picked up in Toronto. Here ‘Bajans’ drive slow and easy, if they see a car wanting to cross the highway, they will stop to let them pass. They are kind. It’s unsettling if you’re from Toronto and driving far too quickly behind them, but over time you slow down and start to realize that being kind, and offering that public gesture, is important. I used to think that people are drawn to Barbados because of the slow pace, but I realize there is much more to it. The people here have grace and they cherish it. I hope a little of that grace rubs off on me.

Barbados is a beautiful country but it is the people that make it a terrific place to live.

Spaghetti Squash and Zucchini Parmesan

With the approach of fall, leaning towards cozy sweaters and comfort food is the norm- and nothing says comfort like spaghetti!

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy hot meals and delicious treats! It can be challenging to stay on top of healthy habits once the cooler temperatures set in!

It takes all of this author’s motivation to get up and go to the gym when the cold sets in! I find making meals with healthy bases helps me to stay on track, and not to mind so much when I don’t make it to that spin class!

Here’s a twist on a classic homemade meal that is one of my favorites-you know, the one your grandmother used to force you to eat more than 2 helpings of! This time though, it’s incorporating more plants, healthy fats and tons of good taste! I dare you to try this and not have 3 servings…at a fraction of the calories!

 

Spaghetti Squash and Zucchini Parmesan

When cooked, spaghetti squash separates into strings that can be covered in sauce, much like

pasta – a grain free alternative! It is full of fibre, vitamins and nutrients that help build up those

antibodies -definitely something that’s good to increase with the onset of cold season! The

squash and zucchini hold up well together, while the cheeses create a mouthwatering finish.

This warm fall classic will have you and your loved ones asking for more-make sure to double

your recipe if you like to have leftovers! The portions outlined below makes 4-6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • 1/3 cup caramelized onions (see below for these instructions)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parimigiano-reggiano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Pierce the spaghetti squash with a fork in several places. Microwave it on high power for 12 minutes, rotating every 3 minutes. Let the squash cool, then cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Scoop out the flesh into a large bowl. Add the zucchini, onions and tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into a shallow baking pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
  3. Remove the baking pan from the oven and turn the oven to broil. Top the vegetables with the grated cheese and place under the broiler until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Caramelized Onions

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced

Instructions:

Heat the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Add the onions and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often, until they are soft and brown. Let cool and then store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

These caramelized onions are easy to do and are a great addition for any of your favorite dishes! Add them to meals like salads, sandwiches and more!

Enjoy this plant based meal which is guaranteed to taste better the next day!

That is, if you manage to have any leftovers!

 

Woman of the Week: Janet Mohapi-Banks

Janet Mohapi-Banks is nothing short of a truly inspiring woman.

Hers is a journey of never giving up and of having the faith to continue to push towards your dreams, even when all the chips are down and hope is in very short supply.

In today’s fast pace and seemingly hectic culture, it is never easy to feel as if all of the time, effort and love you put into creating the life you were proud of, all seems to be crashing down around you; and it takes a very special, committed and brave woman to not only weather the destruction, but to also stand up and do it all over again.

Mohapi-Banks is one such woman.

She  went from being at the top of her game as a Luxury Wedding Cake Designer,- even winning a Precious Business Award in 2010 to being burnt out and trying her best to manage a seemingly incurable digestive disorder as well as chronic fatigue  in just under a two year span.

“By 2012 I had burned out so badly I was left literally at death’s door for nearly 5 years with a rare (and according to my specialist at The Royal Free Hospital) incurable digestive disorder and chronic fatigue.

As a result, I was forced to close my cake business which was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  I moved out of the London area, got my affairs in order and prepared for the inevitable.” She said.

For any entrepreneur, being forced to say good bye to your ‘business baby’ is a very hard and painful process which can fill you with feelings of guilt, frustration, resentment and a lot of fear.

It was unbelievable to her that in only a span of 18 short months she had gone from delivering cakes to some of the most prestigious venues in the UK, including the Ritz Hotel Mayfair and winning awards for her fabulous designs, to being so exhausted and in pain that she was not able to even get out of bed to care for her children- a boy aged 12 years, and a girl 15.

A second chance on life came for Janet in the form of a chiropractor who by cracking her spine released her vagus nerve, thereby curing her and allowing her to grow back to optimal health.

With this new lease on life, Janet launched her coaching business in an effort to help other women to grow their ideal business without the stress that had nearly crippled her.

“Before I was critically ill, I used to overwork, which lead me to burnout.  I now realise that my overworking was due to a lack of self-belief that I truly deserved my amazing successes,” the Transformational Life Coach for Entrepreneurs revealed.

Mohaphi-Banks, who is a proud and happy mother of two explained that women almost always tried to do everything by themselves and her biggest take away from her own experiences was to know when you needed help and to outsource reliable people for the job.

When I asked what got her through the day, she said it was her refusal to waste a minute of her second chance and her amazing children. She noted that while she had gone through some ‘incredibly challenging times in my life’ she continued to get back up with a smile on her face and a determination to face her challenges.

 

Where to go stargazing for celebrities at TIFF 2017

Toronto is getting glamorous! The Toronto International Film Festival is in town and along with several red carpet premieres, there will be lots of hot and exciting things to do in the city. The official TIFF guide  can help you choose the best film, but if you are just into stargazing and possibly meeting celebrities, check out some popular places to explore for TIFF 2017.

Restaurants

Frings

This popular King-West restaurant has attracted a lot of attention since it opened in 2015. Managed by Executive Chef Susur Lee, this resto-lounge lists Toronto’s very own Aubrey “Drake” Graham as an owner. This comes as no surprise since the star is often spotted here when in town with his celebrity friends. Drake is expected to be in town for this year’s TIFF, as he is the executive producer on a basketball documentary called The Carter Effect.

 

Bosk

Comfortably located at the Shangri-La Hotel on University Avenue, this popular Asian-themed restaurant is familiar to many famous faces. The distinct menu features modern Asian dishes with a Canadian touch. In the past, celebrities such as George Clooney and Johnny Deep were spotted dining here.

STK

This hotspot made its debut after TIFF 2016 and is nestled in the heart of Yorkville. As you can guess by the name,  this restaurant serves up delicious steaks among other bites. This year, the restaurant will host the Creative Coalition Spotlight Initiative gala on September 8. This gala is organized to honour certain celebrities that have contributed in some form. This non-profit charity is concerned about issues in the creative community. This year they will honour Jason Biggs, Zachary Quinto, Julienne Nicholson and Matthew Newton.

Luma

It won’t be right to have this list and not mention the official restaurant at the TIFF Bell Lightbox building. Located on the second floor at the spacious King-West space, this restaurant serves up authentically Canadian dishes in an upscale environment.

Bars

Everleigh

With so much happening for TIFF this weekend, there are expected to be lots of glamorous after parties hosted by celebs. On September 8, King-West hotspot Everleigh will be hosting musical sensation Akon. Akon has sold over 35 million albums worldwide and he’s come to share some of his talent in Toronto for TIFF.

Lavelle

This rooftop bar has gained a lot of momentum since its debut in 2016. What makes this party place lively is its location 16 storeys up in the busy King-West area and a sprawling 16,000 sq. ft lounge space. With an indoor and outdoor dining space, and a glamorous rooftop pool, this hotspot also boasts a great view of the CN tower. In 2016, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and John Legend all attended the Hugo Boss party hosted for La La Land.

 

RBC House

RBC is an official sponsor of TIFF so its no surprise they will be hosting many parties for the celebs. Storys Building at 11 Duncan street will be the location for RBC House and will lay out the red carpet for many A- listers. Expected to make appearances are Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz. RBC House will also host many press junkets and a RBCX music party headlined by Canadian rock band, Arkells.

 

The Drake Hotel

This boutique hotel on Queen West is often more than just a hotel. With three levels of partying, the Drake Hotel has a lot of offer. From delicious brunches and a café in the day, the main level of the hotel bar often hosts live bands or dj’s by night.

Hotels

Bisha Hotel Toronto

This newly opened hotel is sure to be busy during the TIFF weekend. This luxury hotel located on Blue Jays Way in the heart of the city has a stunning rooftop pool and patio — 44 floors high. This hotel is classed as a luxury 5-star experience, so expect celebrities to be checking this one out.

 

Ritz Carlton Toronto

The Ritz is a classic hotel name and one where you may see many stars. This luxury five-star hotel is in the heart of the city, and just steps away from the official TIFF headquarters. One of the many delights you can enjoy at this hotel is their themed afternoon tea. This September there will be a Great Gatsby theme. Afternoon tea at the Ritz will cost you $54 dollars per person, but it’s a small amount to pay to possibly see a famous face.

The Four Seasons Toronto

This classic hotel is in the heart of Yorkville. After changing locations, they reopened doors in 2012. The Four Seasons is now located at the corner of Bay and Yorkville avenue and is also home to the Four Seasons private residences. Soaring 55 stories above the city, this hotel often has many special offers and packages such as a bed and breakfast package, a spa package and even a limited ‘Canada turns 150’ credit. These packages only require a stay of 1-2 nights.

The Hazelton Hotel

This Yorkville luxury hotel is only a few doors down from the Four Seasons, but is still a celeb favourite. Blake Lively, Ben Affleck, Julia Roberts, and Brad Pitt have all reportedly stayed here. If you want to scope this hotel out, the best bet is having a drink at the hotel’s famous ONE restaurant, featuring a lovely tree lined patio.

 

Where have you gone for stargazing? Let us know in the comment below!

 

 

Ryerson University gets unique with gender-neutral residences

Most university students have already settled into their dorm rooms for the new academic year. However, students going to Ryerson University in downtown Toronto may find the organization of those dorm rooms a bit different.

Ryerson has decided to no longer segregate students based on gender. As a new student you don’t have to self identify; you can now choose an all gender option as a rooming choice. Once you choose all gender, you will be matched with another person who specified that preference.

This decision at Ryerson follows the steps taken by the Ontario University Application Centre to remove the mandatory gender question when completing an application.

The experience of moving away from home and into a university residence can be traumatizing. Students are unsure of what to expect and their whole social environment changes. Ian Crooskhank, the director of Housing and Residence Life, is hopeful this change will make students more comfortable, as they no longer are forced to confirm or make a choice based on gender.

Ryerson isn’t the first school to adopt gender-neutral policies. For the upcoming school year in California, the San Jose Unified School District will make similar changes. The school district will ensure there is at least one gender neutral bathroom on all campuses at the end of the academic year. This comes in response for demands to change the state law. The gender- inclusive restrooms are an accomplishment for the on-campus LGBTQ community. However, gender neutral locker rooms are not allowed.

Just a few days ago, popular high-end retailer, John Lewis , announced some clothing changes. The department store will remove boys and girls labels from children’s clothing. This move is a push to stop reinforcing gender stereotypes on children. This is the first major retailer to make this move. The gender- neutral clothing option for children will now feature the label ‘Boys and Girls’ clothing on the items. In July of this year, Target stores in the U.S unveiled a new gender neutral clothing line for kids after dropping two brands.

In response to the all gender decision at Ryerson campus housing, Director Crookshank remarked in an official release:

“People come from everywhere and have different journeys, and I think it’s important anytime we can take something that has traditionally been structured to put people in boxes, and open up those boxes, that creates a huge sense of empowerment for those who might otherwise have been marginalized.”

Let us know in the comments below your thoughts on gender- neutral options.

The best summer camp in Canada

This summer, my boys spent two weeks at Camp Muskoka and they are still talking about it.

According to them it is the “best summer camp in Canada or even the world.” Not only did they make some terrific friends, but they learned new games (Magic) and songs (Little Red Wagon) that they randomly start singing at the dinner table.

What they like most about the camp is the freedom to choose what they do during the day instead of feeling like they have to stick to a strict routine that other camps have. Rather than swimming in a freezing cold lake at the crack of dawn, their only worry is to get to the cafeteria before breakfast is finished. And the meals are apparently way better than anything we serve them – there too they have a lot of choice in what they were served.

Camp Muskoka is in the business of making happy campers. As their website states, “we firmly believe that everyone has physiological needs that must be met in order to have any hope of meeting their more refined needs. For example, a camper won’t be able to enjoy the mental and physical activities at camp without proper nutrition or a comfortable, good night’s sleep.  Likewise, a camper won’t be able to build confidence and friendships if they don’t feel safe. Whether it be providing our campers with healthy, well-balanced meals throughout the day, having air conditioned lodging to ensure a good night’s rest, or nurturing a healthy and safe environment so campers are recognized for their personal achievements;  everything we do is about helping our camper’s reach their highest potential.”

The thing is, the camp truly does live up to this description. I notice that my kids came back a bit louder than they were before going (their voices raw from singing, laughing and shouting), a bit more conscientious (aware of the need to clear the table – which they are taught to do their at meal times), and a bit more enthusiastic – “hey mum lets make a song about that.”

If you are looking for a safe camp your kids will truly enjoy, I recommend Camp Muskoka. Here’s a video the camp and kids put together that will give a small view of the great energy that permeates the camp.

I tip my hat to the founder of Camp Muskoka, Scott Creed, for creating a fantastic safe place where kids can learn, grow, and have a heck of a lot of fun!

Woman of the Week: Lauren Doughty

Lauren Doughty joined CBRE, a commercial real estate company, 11 years ago as a summer student. She had just graduated from the University of Guelph and was planning on travelling abroad, but she abandoned her post-graduation travel plans when she was offered the job, deciding to test out the industry to “see if she liked it.” Since then, she got her real estate license and moved up within the same team — from summer marketing assistant to senior partner.

“Every day is completely different,” she said. “That’s what I love most about being part of land services group. Experiencing new projects and new challenges.”

As Vice-President of CBRE’s Land Services Group, Doughty represents the Toronto market for land services, focusing on selling development land. She has transacted over $1 billion in land dispositions, focusing on the GTHA with clients like Infrastructure Ontario and the Toronto Lands Corporation.

Doughty’s success can be attributed to how she handles her client relations. She says it’s important to think long-term and not push too hard to land the deal. It’s all about making the client feel like they have your undivided attention.

I think it’s more than just a deal,” she said. “You can’t be short sighted to try and get a deal for your sake, it’s about the client and the best decision for them. In real estate these transactions are really relationships, so that when the next deal comes there is no one else that they would rather go to.”

Some of the big projects Doughty has worked on include a transaction at Bloor and Dufferin on behalf of Toronto Lands Corporation and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). One of the things she loves about working with organizations like the TDSB is that it is community driven. The process involves meeting with city planners, various consultants, and speaking with the residents who live around the area about what they would like to see in the future development.

“I think what’s so rewarding about what I do — selling these properties and seeing what’s built on them and how it benefits the community,” she said. “Selling land for hospitals or run down buildings that are being torn down and turning it into something much more useful and vibrant in the community is what I really enjoy about it.”

Doughty spends a lot of time studying the housing market and says the numbers being reported in the media don’t accurately represent what’s happening in Toronto. The problem isn’t with the “housing bubble,” she says. It’s with supply and government oversight.

“Our inventory for new homes has dwindled down because there is so little supply and every new project that comes in gets sold quickly. When something does come in, it gets picked up really quickly.”

To compensate for the lack of supply, CBRE is looking at selling sites outside of the 416 areas like Kitchener, Waterloo, and Barrie — anywhere that is inside an urban boundaries and accessible to Go Transit so that those commuting into the downtown core of Toronto can still afford a home.

“When I started working here in 2006, we had listings out in geographical areas I hadn’t even heard of. Over the years we really focused on selling sites in the 416/905 municipalities. As of recently we have started working across the Greater Golden Horseshoe because there is so little supply of developable land within the GTA. People need to move out of this region for affordability reasons. When, in Markham, a townhouse now costs $1.5 million – homebuyers need to go to these out- of-golden-horseshoe areas.”

Her biggest concern is the new Ontario Municipal Board reforms and how that will affect zoning for sites that are in the process of getting approved.

In her free time, Doughty tried to volunteer her time with numerous organizations benefiting women. She just finished her term as Program Co-Chair with the Urban Land Institute and previously volunteered with Toronto CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women). Part of CREW’s mentorship is a program called Real Jobs, which allows high school students to learn more about careers in commercial real estate.

“At that age, I remember not knowing what to do. I would love to see more women get into real estate, whether its development or brokerage.”

Doughty still loves to travel — her latest adventure was three weeks in Asia — and spending time at the cottage. She is currently renovating her own house with her fiancé.

BeautyMark co-owner Tayler Rogers offers skin care tips

A good workout can make you sweat, releasing toxins within the body. But, it can also have an effect on your skin. According to Tayler Rogers, co-owner of Beauty Mark, a trendy beauty boutique in Vancouver, following a proper skin health regime is critical for any athlete, especially if you are out in the sun.

In a Q&A with Women’s Post, Rogers offers her skin care tips for runners on the go.

Tayler Rogers, co-owner of BeautyMark

Q: Which skincare and make up products are best for a person who leads an active lifestyle?

A: I like to find multi-use products for people who are active and on the go for two reasons: one, you’ll get things done quicker and two, you’ll be more likely to actually use the products. For skincare some basics: SPF with moisturizer, a good face and body wash, and for makeup [use] waterproof mascara and tinted moisturizer.

I am a runner, what steps should I take to maintain healthy skin on a regular basis?

Sunscreen is a pretty obvious answer, but it is very important. Also, watch what time of the day you are out running. Try to avoid the peak sun times as you’ll be exposing yourself to the harshest sun. Something that has been really interesting this year is that it has come out how bad pollution is for your skin. It’s a major contributor to aging in the skin, so if you are out running in the city that is definitely something to consider. Adding a purifying mask or a powerful detoxifying ingredient like charcoal is something we really recommend. Tata Harper is an all natural line that has an amazing mask to use once a week. Midnight Paloma is from Vancouver and they have an entire line dedicated to charcoal! There are lots of options

What is the biggest skincare concern for women while working out and afterwards?

Breakouts would be the big one. If you create excess sebum while working out and don’t cleanse properly you will get breakouts. This isn’t just on your face, body break outs are very common too. It can be really difficult because different skin types that suffer from breakouts might not need a stronger ingredient to clean out the skin than others. Investing in a good quality wash and toner will help out big time with this. And always moisturize!

What are some quick makeup tips or ways to look fabulous after a workout?

Tinted moisturizer, mascara, brow liner, and a lip/cheek tint!

If the runner has problem skin like blemishes, what would you recommend?

Having a non-irritating breakout treatment is a great option. We have one from Tata Harper that you can wear underneath makeup or overnight. It’s non-drying (with) a lot of healing properties, as well as a break out treatment.

Tell us about BeautyMark and how your makeup/skin care products are different?

BeautyMark has been established since 2001 and we were one of the first small boutique skincare/makeup spots in Vancouver (note: it’s available online), so we’ve built up a really loyal clientele. We differ with our customer service in that we love working one on one with our customers, asking questions about what they are looking for. We love to provide an inviting atmosphere and (we know) it can be super intimidating to walk into a store with so many products! We source brands that follow our stores ethos. The store is cruelty free, there are no products that are tested on animals. We try to support local, Canadian made brands as well. All natural is a big thing too, clean ingredients that work are super important to us!

 

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Things I wish I knew in my first year of university

Every September I get a little nostalgic. I loved my university days — wearing sweatpants to class, toonie Tuesdays at the campus pub, and of course, my days on the student newspaper. But more than that, I loved the university experience. Every day I learned something new and was able to experience something completely different. That first year was incredibly special. I met some of my best friends, found out I hated philosophy, and learned that I was able to be an independent human being, capable of making my own decisions (whether they were the right ones is still debatable).

But first year can also be a little overwhelming. However, if you listen to those with a little more experience (ahem me), you’ll be fine! Here is what I wish I knew when I started university:

Make sure to participate in Frosh Week: I knew a few people who did not participate in any Frosh (or 101-week) celebrations, and honestly, that was a big shame. Frosh week is the perfect time to get to know your campus and the other people in your program. I met some of my best friends during that crazy week and they helped me get through the next four years. It’s also a great distraction before you have to delve into the textbooks.

Have fun, but not too much fun: It’s every students prerogative to have fun during their first year of university. Whether that means hitting the bars or a residence party — make sure you go and mingle with new people. It’s also important to de-stress and take your mind off of school. But remember to make your studies a priority. Most universities and colleges offer grants to first year students that can be renewed if your grade point average is high enough. It’s also plausible that you will have the same professor in your second and third year, so it’s important to make those good first impressions. Don’t goof off too much. Instead of going out with your roommates every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, just go for one of those days. That way you can go all out and have a blast without regretting the decision later.

*Note: It took me a while to learn that Thursday is like a Friday in university speak.

Look for older versions of textbooks: University is expensive. There is tuition, housing, supplies, food, and then textbooks on top of it all. While most first year students want their textbooks new and shiny, make sure to ask the professor what has changed from the older version. If it’s just a few pictures or citations, purchased the older version. Also, don’t rule out used textbook. Most people don’t highlight in their books and the used books usually just have a few bent pages —nothing that can hinder your academic success.

Make your room (or your half) personal: For most, your room has always been an escape. It’s the place where you went when you were mad at your parents, upset about a relationship, or even when you just wanted some peace and quiet. However, residence can be a bit different. First of all, you may be sharing a room with another person, something most of us haven’t done since we were five years old. Make sure that your space really is your own. Find posters, pictures of family and friends, decorate with pillows or add your own blankets. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but make sure the room represents your personality and is able to act as a safe haven from the craziness of university life.

Do your readings: This seems like a lame piece of advice — but honestly, if I had done all my readings during the semester in first year it would have saved me a lot of cramming come exam days. Try using Sundays to catch up on readings. Get off campus, go to a restaurant, café, or even sit outdoors and power them.

Go to a sports game: Sports may not be your thing, but the sense of community and spirit that can be found at a university sports game is incredible. Not only is it a chance to dress up in your school colours and grab a few drinks with friends, the high you get from cheering a winning (or even a loosing) team is really unique. You may even gain a small appreciation of the sport of your choice. My only other piece of advice would be to dress appropriately.  Football begins in the fall and it can get pretty cool in those stadiums so make sure to wear layers.

Don’t be afraid to get help: University can be overwhelming. You may only have five or six classes, but each one has an extensive reading list and many assignments. Not to mention there is the pressure of living on your own, working a part-time job, and any other life commitments. It’s okay to be stressed and anxious. Make sure to keep in contact with family and friends who can support you throughout your first year, and remember that nothing is the end of the world. If you need help, ask for it! There are lots of services available on campus and your professors will welcome you during their office hours if there is something you don’t understand. Feel free to take advantage of the on-campus health care, especially counsellors. Remember that it will be tough, but university is a fun experience. Take advantage of these moments while you can!

 

What advice would you give to those starting their first year of university or college this week?

Fashion over compassion?

The damage caused by Hurricane Harvey was unexpected and devastating. On Aug. 29, U.S President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump boarded Air Force One in Maryland to visit flood ravished Texas.

Despite this headline, most people were struck by what Melania wore while boarding Air Force One. It was a rainy Tuesday morning and she wore a quite fashionable outfit: cropped black pants, a green bomber jacket, hair flowing, sunglasses, and the infamous thin black stiletto heels.

By all accounts she looked great, but the damage was already done. People began mocking the First Lady for wearing heels on a visit to a disaster zone.

By the time Melania arrived in Texas, she had changed her shoes, now wearing clean and bright white sneakers. Her hair was tucked back in a FLOTUS cap and she had on a raised collar crisp white shirt tucked into those cropped black pants. Sunglasses still in effect. The First Lady’s fashion choices were more talked about than the reason the President went to Texas in the first place — and how can I blame them?

Everyone is entitled to an opinion on this topic, but it’s hard to know what exactly the First Lady was thinking. Let us not forget Mrs Trump is a former fashion model. She knows how to dress. In fact, since she took office many have paid close attention to her fashion choices. Maybe if she wore the sneakers initially instead of changing on the plane this would not be an issue.

Her choice of heels is what ‘raises’ Melania Trump above the rest. I think even more alarming was her FLOTUS cap, (I believe we know you are the First Lady.) What you are viewing here is simply the reality of Melania’s world.  She is used to dressing well when she is out in public so she did not give it a second thought. However, I do believe there was some forethought into these outfits, as the FLOTUS cap gives away. She meant to wear these two specific outfits to Texas. They were fashion statements.

Her rise as First Lady has always been mocked, from her choice of words, to her stiff and cold expressions towards her husband. She does not come off as warm and loving. Instead she is represented as a upstanding trophy wife enduring  the spotlight. No one really knows why Melania chose those shoes, or what she was really thinking. All we know for sure is that the press is buzzing about her outfit rather than her effort and compassion. If you want to make a heartfelt visit to a disaster area, it may be best to wear some boots made for walking.

What do you think about the First Lady’s fashion choice? Was it on purpose, and why do we even care? Leave some comments below.