Wednesday, 30 November 2011 want me to introduce myself?

Well, if you insist.
Hi! This is ME.  
I’m pretty new to this social media thing. I just started tweeting last month and, as a newly converted tweeter, twitterite, tweetser (?) I think I’m doing a pretty awful job of notifying people of the nonsensicalities of my everyday life in 140 characters or less. And what’s with the hash tag thing? When is it #appropriate? #Here? Or #there? Am I #overusing it  #now?
But one thing I am good at is talking about myself.  I am a fourth-year university student studying Translation at the Glendon Campus of York University. That means that four years ago, I decided that Glendon was the best and only place for me to spend the next 1460 days of my life. Why Translation at Glendon? If you have a couple minutes, I’d love to tell you my life story. I’ll keep it short. I promise.

My Life Story...

I was born in Kingston, Jamaica 21 years ago. Jamaica is known for many things: its beauty, its beaches and its culture. 
It is not, however, known for being even slightly French. Neither are my parents. Despite many efforts on my part, words like “bonjour” and “aurevoir” still give them difficulty. Plus, I spent most of my life in Ajax, a great place to live, but not a great place to become fluent in a second language. So, when it came to French, I was starting from ground zero. But I took some steps to change that:

1.     I spent twelve years of my life in French Immersion. This is equivalent to approximately 120 months, 3600 days or 86400 hours learning French. Subtract recess, bathroom breaks and sleep and that still leaves you with a lot of time to devote to French grammar. But I wanted to be completely proficient in the language and since my family had no current plans to make a full-scale move to France,  my options were limited to making the most of the resources provided me.
2.     In class I was learning formal French –the French you would write a resumé in, compose a novel in, or impress your grand-mother with, but not the French that you’d use to talk to that cute French boy you want to get to know better. I decided that I would spend extra time outside the classroom enriching my French vocabulary with television shows and radio broadcasts composed or translated into French. I also signed up to participate in various competitions for French Immersion students and volunteered as a tutor in my second language. The extra effort paid off.
3.     My most recent and significant decision was my choice in post-secondary education. I chose Glendon, the bilingual campus of York University. I knew that after devoting close to 86400 hours to French grammar classes, I was not going to allow myself to lose a language I loved.  I spent hours researching programs offered in English and French and for me, Glendon was the only choice.

A completely bilingual environment? Check
A variety of programs offered in the two languages? Check.
An international student population, which provides me the opportunity to use my two languages? Check.

So I applied, was accepted and am now in my fourth year in Glendon’s School of Translation.
Ok, so, that wasn’t short at all. But you try and tell your entire life story in two minutes. See? It’s hard.

And I still didn’t really tell you what is so awesome about Translation at Glendon. That will have to be my next blog post. Wait for it….coming soon to a computer screen near you.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

An Insider's Guide to Navigating the University Application Process

If you’re in grade twelve, and considering applying to university, you might be starting to panic right about now. People are throwing dates, averages, admissions requirements and cut-offs at you as if the next four years of your life are imminent. This can be scary. Don’t worry. Breathe in and out slowly and don’t get overwhelmed. There are people that can help you. 

1. Your guidance counsellor. You know that office that you’ve never heard of in the hallway you’ve never been down? That’s probably your guidance department. In grade 12, when I found myself floundering for answers and uncertain about what my next steps should be, I went there, hesitant and not sure which questions to ask. They helped me focus my search and gave me the basic knowledge about scholarships, university application deadlines and what I needed to do next. (Insider tip: guidance counsellors love prepared students so go in with something; anything that will help them help you.) 

2. Your Ontario Universities Fair. This year, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre hosted universities from all over Ontario, and on your way there you could have even encountered other universities from all over the country. It is the best place to find out more information about schools you’ve heard of, and even some you haven’t. Upstairs, there are rooms assigned for each university that allow you to sit down, listen and absorb all the general information about the school. (Insider tip: those at the York University presentation got goodies for participating) Downstairs, there are booths set up for all the universities. There you can ask university representatives questions about the application process, the ins and outs of university and what is so great about their school. (“Unbiased” insider tip: The York University booth was gorgeous this year and the Glendon campus representatives are very nice and helpful so never hesitate to ask them anything.) 

3. Your computer. December. January. February. The months might seem to start rushing by faster than you can keep track of them and before you know it, the deadline for something crucial might have passed you by. Surprisingly, the internet can be used for more than instant messaging and Facebook. There are plenty of sites that provide reminders about what the general deadlines are for applying to school and for more specific deadlines you can always check out university websites. If you’re looking specifically for universities in Ontario eINFO is a good place to start: For that long December/January period, the computer was my best friend. I spent hours combing through sites for scholarships and university information and, as a result, felt considerably less overwhelmed than when I started. 

4. Your telephone. Let’s say you went to the Ontario Universities Fair and came back with even more questions than you started with. Or, your guidance counsellor helped you focus your interest on one specific school, Glendon perhaps? Call the university in question. Glendon’s office of Student Recruitment & Applicant Relations will help you with programs, admissions, financial information and more than you’d imagine. They can provide you with answers to questions you never even thought of asking. I am pretty sure I called so much they knew the sound of my voice before I had even enrolled.