Shopaholics celebrate Black Friday or Boxing Day as their favourite time of year, but my favourite kind of shopping is course shopping the week before the Drop and Add deadline on SOLAR.
It’s easy to be complacent about the quality of your education, you register for the required courses and a couple of easy electives and voilà, your schedule is complete with hopefully a four-day weekend and no 8:30s.
But is this experience really worth the thousands of dollars you pay in tuition and supplementary fees?
Picking courses should not be an arbitrary process; you should take control of your learning experience and create a schedule that takes advantage of the full breadth of courses McMaster has to offer. If you’re in engineering, take a gender studies course, or if you’re in social sciences consider a science elective. When else will you have the opportunity to learn from someone with expertise in a discipline outside your comfort zone?
Beyond the subject matter itself, the learning process is shaped by two factors—the professor and the syllabus.
You may have to go fishing in the department or even email the instructor to ask for the outline because they often aren’t provided until you enrol.
Although professors haven’t started crowd-sourcing outlines yet, this doesn’t mean you can’t provide input. As anyone that has read the policy blurb knows, Professors reserve the right to modify the syllabus, which means your ideas for what the course should cover can be implemented—don’t wait until the evaluations at the end of the term.
The instructors themselves can make a class an incredible learning experience or a total flop. The only way to evaluate this is by meeting them in person. Sites like ratemyprofessor.com are subject to intense polarization and feature irrelevant categories like “hotness.”
Another reason you should go in person is that an impressive biography of publications does not necessarily translate to effective teaching skills. Sessional instructors can be just as great, and sometimes even more enthusiastic than tenured faculty.
Finally, don’t let red tape get in the way of you pursuing your passion. Some departments have waiting lists for classes that are full, and others may be willing to add a seat depending on your circumstances. It is even possible to have pre-requisites waived if you can provide a sufficient justification.
Optimize your degree. Don’t ignore an interesting class because it’s at 8:30 a.m. or on a Friday afternoon. A post-secondary education at a university like McMaster is an incredible opportunity; don’t waste it.
This one might seem counterintuitive, with the cold weather the last thing you might want to do is sit outside. But if you bundle up, bring a thermos of tea and a hat, studying outside will keep you from falling asleep. You can make yourself a snow chair and a snow table for your stuff. If you tell yourself you can only go back inside after you’re done studying, I promise you will be more efficient than you’ve ever been before.
It’s time to hit the gym, to get those practice problems done. Getting more oxygen to your brain will help you stay engaged, so consider combining your work out with your homework. Instead of a Beer Mile, do a Study Mile—read one chapter and then run one mile. This may not be a proven study method (I made it up), but it will make you seem super hardcore. Alternatively, there are some comfy benches on the second and third floor if you want to study the old fashioned way.
Bus, bike or walk to Dundas for one of the best branches of the Hamilton Public Library. A few tables and some hidden study nooks and crannies await your discovery. This building is next to some senior residences so you can absorb the wisdom of the elderly by osmosis.
A little known fact is that McMaster hosts a real live nuclear reactor on campus—and it offers free tours to students. During the tour your guide will track the amount of nuclear radiation you absorb, and while this is minimal, it’s still an incentive to minimize your time inside. So why not bring along a book? The longer it takes you to read, the more radiation you will absorb a fact that will have you done your reading in no time. Just don’t drop your book in the giant glowing pool, you won’t get it back.
Tons of student groups on campus want you to burst the McMaster bubble. So take up this challenge, and do your homework on an HSR bus. Discover the east end of Hamilton from the comfort of a hard blue seat. You’ll get to know some Hamiltonians and get your homework done. Just make sure to avoid the night busses, especially around Hess. You don’t want your textbook to get covered in puke!
As much as we love the fine establishments that surround the McMaster campus, there comes a time in every student’s career that calls for venturing past that comfort zone to see what else Hamilton has to offer. Any bus heading downtown will take passengers past Locke St., an area known as a hub for independently owned restaurants, coffee shops, and clothing stores, just to name a few. After some website surfing and a trip down to Locke, we decided to give these businesses some special attention.
Ole Gourmet Mexican Grill 82 Locke St. S.
Located at 82 Locke Street South, Ole Gourmet Mexican Grill is one of the first places you will see after getting off of the bus. The counter of the shop contains a large window where you can see your taco being made right in front of you. Every Tuesday, Ole Gourmet offers up pulled pork tacos at the reasonable price of $2.
The Button Pushers 119b Locke St. S.
Just before the hill is where you will find this beloved vintage hot spot. As the awning boldly declares, they provide customers with “vintage clothes, custom buttons, art and propaganda.” The Button Pushers has a variety of buttons available to buy, but if nothing quite peaks your interest, you can always request a quote for small or large orders and get custom buttons made. The schedule for new batches of clothes varies so be sure to check often to find one-of-a-kind pieces that no one else on campus will have.
Johnny’s Coffee 129 Locke St. S.
If you blink, you almost miss this quaint Locke St. café- but don’t let the outside fool you. With approximately ten tables, it provides a cozy environment, not to mention the friendly barista who greeted us with a warm welcome. Equipped with board games and a house chess set, sit down and enjoy the unique coffee shop that is Johnny’s Coffee. And while you’re enjoying one of the two featured coffees, or a vegan biscotti, follow a tip from their website and be sure to ask about the “Train Game.”
Shirin’s Fine Foods 139 Locke St. S.
Shirin’s Fine Foods hosts a variety of food to suit every taste. From tarts to cookies, coffee to chocolate, and ice cream to gluten-free brownies, Shirin’s should have something for everyone. They also surprisingly carry cabbage rolls and perogies, including dessert perogies, for those who cannot get enough of these European dumplings. They have a great selection of ice cream from birthday cake to chocolate peanut butter, but it’s only available for a few more weeks! Shirin’s is open six days a week, and closed on Mondays.
SC Consignment 162 Locke St. S.
This sleek boutique located at 162 Locke St. S. is for those who love to find designer pieces at a lower price point. They accept consignment by appointment Monday through to Friday. For those fashionistas who love designer brands, perhaps a trip to SC Consignment will mean finding a dress for one of the many upcoming formals being hosted at McMaster.
Democracy/Locke Street Coffee 202 Locke St. S.
It is not hard to miss this coffee shop on Locke, mainly because you can literally walk in from the street. A large garage-like door stands between Democracy/Locke Street Coffee and potential customers, but on the hot, sunny day that we went to Locke, the door was open so there was nothing to stop people from checking it out. The walls are painted with chalkboard paint and coloured chalk is in abundance for those who wish to express their creativity. Do not expect to be surfing the web or checking your Twitter feed in Democracy, as the chalkboard message bluntly puts it, they do not have Wi-Fi, they would rather you talk to each other. With a variety of pastry, desserts, and bagels from the Locke Street Bakery, enjoy a treat, a cup of coffee and conversation at Democracy.
Epic Books 226 Locke St. S.
Right now, Epic Books has a large tree in the front window. The large paper tree is from a recent Locke Street festival where people were asked to write their favourite children’s book on one of the corresponding leaves. But as the woman behind the counter informed us “it’s not just children’s books.” Epic Books is a warm environment where browsing is made comfortable. They have a section dedicated to local Hamilton authors for those who wish to keep it close to home. After some browsing, our personal favourite was Bun B’s Rap Colouring and Activity Book which includes a page that requires the reader to draw a freehand picture of Jay Z with a pre-printed outline of a New York Yankees hat because, after all, he made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can. Clearly that fine piece of literature is not a children’s book.
Bitten 219 Locke St. S.
After checking out the Bitten website, we knew that a visit to the cupcake and whoopee pie store was non-negotiable. Decorated in white, green and orange, it mirrors the playful look and atmosphere of the website to a T. The shop has a large window overlooking all the confectionary creations customers can choose from, including red velvet, peanut butter, or Rolo cupcakes and pies, just to name a few. If you want to have the larger selection from their extensive menu, the best time to go is around noon, just do not go on Mondays, as that is the only day of the week that they are closed.
Phone rings. I answer.
“Guess what, Dad?” Seriph asks.
“What?” I answer.
“Guess!” He implores.
I bite; “You got a Billy Goat named Ben who has a Pet Monkey named Bibo. With wings and horns.” Seriph laughs and says “Nope.“
My regular access schedule is weekends, so I haven’t seen him since Sunday. It’s Friday and his mother is taking him to a ‘Crash-o-rama’ event in the States this weekend so I won’t get to see him for another week, which is nearly unprecedented. Our cute and awkward conversation goes on for another 5 minutes until he finally confesses that he and his mother got a “real leopard kitten” in Fergus.
“I miss you, little man,” I tell him.
Seriph is 9. He needs me. Two other children, Jack, my six-year-old son, and Lily, my six-year-old stepdaughter, need me too. As does my fiancée. They need me here at McMaster where I stepped off of the bus for my first visit into what seemed like a Monet painting - the lines transient, the construct fluid, and the subject vibrantly presented in soft focus, just out of reach.
In fact, the memories of the initial days of visitation blend into what seem like an hour or two, at least according to the film reel projecting them against the back of my eyes. Yet, there are many still-framed Polaroids that have subscribed themselves to eventually becoming stable reflections during my Golden Years (which aren’t that far away, dear Reader).
What a magnificent experience being an undergraduate at McMaster University. The prestige, the unending opportunities, the beauty of the campus, the kindness of my fellow students, and most of all, the generosity of the institution. This is the pristine and tightly wound braid of steel wires upon which we all walk as students here, forged and woven by our fine predecessors. Pushing the soapbox aside, damn it’s difficult to cross this chasm and keep your balance.
Family, work, friends, academia. These four disciplines constitute a science perhaps more complex and sensitive to change than any of those sciences we study here. It is to the methods of this particular science that I call attention. It is through the mastery of this science that we will all prevail.
Whether we are old or young, student or faculty, undergraduate, graduate or doctorate, this is a challenging time, with unique demands from each of our unknown futures. A time in our lives that can be tumultuous yet beneficial, monumental and experimental, and a fallacy or absolute truth.
What gets you jazzed? What keeps the beat? What feels real? What lights the match?
The answers to these questions tweak the lens and clarify the apparently blurry destination at the end of your tightrope.
You are taking the time to read this, which makes you vulnerable to the words on the page and their possible influence on you and your thought processes. That is why I feel it is important to be equally as vulnerable and allow you into my private world. It is necessary to toss anonymity, personal or professional, in the trash, and make life as raw and pure as possible. This demands a confessional of sorts, that the shadows that play beneath the surface do more than come up for air. They allow you to see their face. Into their eyes.
Live, learn, laugh, and love while you are here. Make connections. Stay connected. But most of all, remember there is no net.
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There’s nothing quite like winning Roll Up the Rim. But when you win in the student centre, Terri Marshall makes your win even more memorable.
Marshall has become an overnight celebrity for serenading students with cheers and a “Winner-Style” dance.
A student customer first filmed Teri during her cheer and posted the clip on YouTube. The YouTube video clip is entitled, “Tim Horton’s Employee of the Year?”. When the video first went up, Marshall was unaware of it. Within the first two days the clip received 77, 000 views.
As of Friday morning, the video had close to 600,000 views.
“Terri is the nicest person. A lot of students don’t know her personally but she goes out of her way to say the sweetest things and exponentially brightens all of our days,“ said YouTube user Whitneh23 in a comment on the video.
When asked what her secret was to being so cheery, she said simply, “it’s just in my nature.”
“I love doing things to shock and catch students' eye.”
Marshall explained how she came up with “Winner Style” this year, after students kept coming up to her asking when Roll Up the Rim season was beginning. Students were so accustomed to her dancing and cheering last year that she came up with “Winner Style” as something new for this year.
The story has grown exponentially, and reached news outlets all over Canada, including CHCH, CBC, Huffington Post Canada, Yahoo Canada and Canoe.ca.
“As a regular Tim’s customer, going every day, Terri is always over-the-top friendly to everyone. Campus is lucky to have her," said Mac student Andrew Terefenko.
Devra Charney-The Silhouette
Winter at Mac just got a little bit sweeter. On Feb. 1, a new location of Yogurty’s opened its doors on Main St W. The new storefront of the frozen yogurt shop is the second of its kind in Hamilton.
“We’re having our grand opening around the end of March,” explained owner and manager Lane Dowhanihuk shortly after the doors opened on Feb. 1. “This is our soft opening.”
“We weren’t sure if we’d be open this morning and it turned out to be 5 p.m., or late this afternoon, so tonight hopefully it’ll be busy because a lot of people have been popping in, and we said Friday’s the day,” she said.
Indeed it got busier as news spread via Facebook and Twitter, with Yogurty’s updating its Twitter page before announcing the opening on its official website.
“I think we have a premium product here. In my opinion, Yogurty’s is a little better than the competitors, which is why we chose to open this franchise,” Dowhanihuk said in response to being compared with Westdale’s TCBY. “Our fruits are cut every day fresh, and [we offer] tons and tons of toppings. Our sauces are in warmers, so it’s nice, warm sauce instead of just cold.”
Customers certainly seem to agree. Katija Bonin, a second year Arts & Science student, was among the first 10 customers at the new location. “I get a good vibe from this place,” she said. “I’d come here more often for sure.”
Dowhanihuk explained that students are a main focus for this franchise. “We are hoping, with the university, the junior high and the international college … to get everybody in here,” Dowhanihuk said. “We have actually hired a few people that are attending Mac, and we’re just kind of waiting to see how busy it is before we hire more.”
Flavours currently offered at the self-serve yogurt bar include Birthday Cake, Red Velvet, Peanut Butter, Crispy Wafer, Mangolicious Sorbet, Super Fruit, Tart, Strawberry, Vanilla and Chocolate Truffle Explosion. With over 80 flavours listed on their website, though, selection changes on a rotating basis.
In terms of future franchising in the area, there is “nothing on the list right now for Hamilton.” But Dowhanihuk revealed “Waterloo is our next one, which will be in April.”
By: Abraham Redda
International students are a strong source of revenue for the University. They pay nearly double in tuition costs compared to domestic students. Over the past few years at McMaster, there has been a 6 per cent rise in the tuition costs for internationals.
With the movement for producing more globally aware citizens in universities across North America, McMaster has shown evidence of following suit. The university has students representing over 91 countries worldwide and is the only North American host site of a United Nations University.
The International Student Barometer measures the quality of international student experience. The 2011 ISB surveyed 209,422 international students from 238 institutions in 16 countries.
While McMaster was not one of the ten participating institutions from Ontario, the barometer provides information on general Canadian trends.
According to the ISB, Canadian institutions rank positively, above the international average, in providing safety, eco-friendly environments and Internet access to international students. On average, Canadian institutions were noticeably behind the international average in terms of supporting international students with living costs and financing.
Since there are no caps on tuition fees for international students, the increase in international student admissions nationwide has often been seen as a makeshift solution for the lack of funding that universities have experienced since the ‘90s.
It seems that an expensive education is no deterrant to foreign applicants. McMaster alone has 1,289 international students at the graduate and undergraduate level (as of 2009/2010), contributing to Ontario having the highest number of foreign students in post-secondary institutions in Canada.
Many would argue that an expensive education is worth the payoff.
Angelina Bong, a 4th year Commerce student originally from Singapore, said she ultimately chose McMaster over other Ontario universities because she felt it would give her a well-rounded education.
“I definitely felt a strong pull towards Mac. It’s more open and flexible. I’ve never felt that I was denied any opportunities.”
Bong also highlighted the DeGroote International Committee - a new committee set up by the DeGroote School of Business to increase dialogue within the faculty and incoming and outgoing exchange students.
“It just started, but I see a lot of potential.”
This kind of dialogue is intrinsic to the push for accepting international students. More than just a facet of increasing diversity on campus, international students may choose to stay in Canada after completing their degrees and become valuable contributors to society.
And if they choose to return to their countries or continue travelling, they can create and maintain strong connections between institutions.
“When I complete my studies,” said Bong, “I hope to get a job that allows me to travel around the world.”
Smoke’s Poutinerie is bringing the World of Major League Eating to university campuses across Canada, and one McMaster club is at the forefront of partnering with Smokes on this event.
The Hamilton leg of the World Poutine-Eating Championship: Campus Edition kicks off at McMaster’s own Homecoming on Oct. 13. DECA U Executives are currently speaking with MSU representatives to ascertain if this event can be part of the official Homecoming schedule.
The DECA U club first found out they were selected as one of the national semi-finalists of the Smoke’s Competition on Sept 19. The campaign to gain support for their club and promote Smoke’s World Poutine Eating Championship started immediately.
During the first ten days of the campaign, DECA U has been trying to gain support through social media channels. The next ten days of the campaign will focus on promoting the specific poutine-eating event on Oct. 13.
The franchise first hosted and organized the World Poutine-Eating Championship in 2010 in Toronto. This will be the first-ever World Poutine-Eating Championship: Campus Edition. Students will race to eat poutine as fast as they can in competition to win sponsorship in funding for McMaster’s own DECA U Club.
DECA U is ramping up to choose four McMaster students to compete in the contest. All of the Canadian university teams are competing with each other for the best times. The teams with the most amount of support accumulated on social media platforms and the best team eating times will then secure the first prize of $2,500.
The McMaster DECA U Chapter was formed at Mac in 2007. The club seeks to provide professional development for its members through entering in business case study competitions with universities across Canada. Case study competitions typically examine industry issues in marketing, finance, services and business administration.
DECA U’s initiative this year is to provide the enhanced value for its members, academically and socially. They hope to further redevelop their training modules and run their own case competitions as well as broaden their membership body if they receive the Smokes sponsorship.
Palika Kohli, VP Marketing for DECA U stated her desire to build the club’s brand on campus and specifically attract a higher diversity of members from a variety of faculties.
“The sponsorship is for DECA U…but it’s really about Mac winning this [nationally],” said Kohli
Westdale hosts mix of students and permanent residents, providing a campus-town feel. Yet along with that comes a frustration from both groups, as students want to experience the freedom of being away from home and residents seek a quiet and clean environment.
While resident reactions to this past Welcome Week vary depending on the street, community events like PJ Parade and Community Clean-Up have given students a stronger first impression of the community entering the school year.
However, it is through the school year that tensions can build up.
Kenneth Moyle is a 12-year homeowner in Westdale and a board member of Ainslie Wood Westdale Community Association (AWWCA), an advocacy group for permanent residents in the community. He cites the two main concerns of residents as being loud noise and messy properties.
“McMaster and undergraduate life are part of Westdale. When you live in Westdale, you’re living around families, just as you did at home. The same rules of common courtesy still apply now that you are in a house of your own.”
While not all student houses are disruptive, the inconsiderate behaviour of a few can put a bad label on all student houses. Still, Moyle insists it would be hard to find residents who want all the students to go away.
The McMaster Students Union, conscious of the relationship between students and Westdale residents, runs a service called the Student Community Support Network (SCSN) to help develop a sense of community in the Westdale area.
Erika Richter is this year’s SCSN Coordinator and organizes the Resident Buddy and Snow Angels programs, which provide students with volunteer opportunities to connect to residents. These programs complement Hamilton 101 and By-Law 101 initiatives that teach students about common considerations of living off-campus.
The programs keep Westdale a balanced neighborhood, Richter says, and keeps conflicts from developing. She urges students to experience the city and get to know the community, as this will enrich the student experience and provide a different perspective on student life.
“When you make an effort to be a good neighbour, you’re helping to keep Westdale a place where students and permanent residents want to live,” said Moyle, “and what you do can effect Westdale and McMaster for years to come.”