Weekly Featured Article

What I’ve Been Up To At Media & Comm. (And Otherwise)

Well, it certainly has been a busy and exciting summer here at SCLD. There’s been lots to do and create, and all of us with the Media & Communications team have been working diligently on a variety of projects.

So what projects have I been working on?

I got back from Saskatchewan about a month after the rest of the team had already begun working, but thankfully I’ve managed to complete some stuff and catch up a bit since my return.

So far, I’ve completed first and second drafts of the 2014-2015 Parent & Family Calendar, a calendar that’s given out to the parents and family members of new students at the beginning of the academic year. It’s still in-progress.

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Here’s a first look at this year’s front and rear covers – but SHHHH! It’s top secret!

I’ve also completed the first 5 blog posts for the Orientation Blog Series featured on our website, a few of which feature some of my photography and videos! Nikki and I have been working hard on this series, and you can check out her posts (which help introduce new students to the presidents and O-Chairs of their respective colleges) there too!

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Here’s a sample photo of mine from the past few weeks. It’s been my first time experimenting with photography and video, and so I’m really excited to learn more and become more familiar with our team’s camera!

Want to see a sample of one of my videos? Check this out!

The best part about the series: it’s not over, so there’s still lots more about orientation to come!

I’ve also had the opportunity to work with the wonderful team over at Res Life! As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I am currently the Media & Comm. liaison for Residence Life, and so far I’ve assisted in making a video for don training (which has since been completed) and am currently in the process of filming and editing another video that will be shown during don training. We also have a giant infographic in the works too, which I’m pretty excited about.

And of course, as always, I’ve been blogging, instagramming, tweeting, and pinning to my heart’s content.

However, outside of this work stuff, I’ve had the opportunity to visit New York City, spend time with family and friends, go camping, bike around main street in my hometown of Markham, and tons of other stuff. But ‘ve had a lot of work to do, too.  I’m currently still in summer school doing one (thankfully just one) course, Applied Ethics. That’s PHIL 2075 for anyone looking to take it. It’s really cool, and the textbook for the course is extremely interesting; I’m actually doing really well in it, too, based on my midterm mark and the marks from my two papers and two debates. However, it’s going to be a busy next two weeks in school for me – I have a paper due this thursday and an in-class marked debate to be a part of, as well as a final paper worth 30% of my grade due the following week. I’ll have to go pedal to the metal for the next little while!

But I still have to remember to have some fun along the way – summer is almost over, after all!

Until next time,

~ Christopher Ford

Here's a shot of my dad and I outside the New York Times HQ in Manhattan

Here’s a shot of my dad and I outside the New York Times HQ in Manhattan

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Need to Know, Weekly Featured Article

The Best Apps To Have As A Commuter

It certainly is no secret – commuting to school and/or work comes with its own set of unique problems and challenges.

Luckily, here at SCLD Media & Communications, we’re all about using technology to overcome challenges. And so, on that note, let me share with you a few apps that can (hopefully) improve your daily commute! If it’s marked with a star✬, it’s one of my favourites!

✬GO Transit Mobile

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Developer:  GO Transit & Ryerson University

Cost: Free

Available on: Blackberry, iPhone (+ iTouch & iPad), Android, Windows

For anyone who takes the GO Bus or Train to York, this is a simply fantastic app. It allows you to search upcoming bus and train schedules, as well as plan trips for later on. You can save your most frequently-used routes in your favourites for easy access. It also tracks bus locations in real time using location services, so you are able to see just how far away your bus is (and you can set an alarm for when it’s getting close)! A word of warning however – the real-time bus tracking can sometimes be unreliable with older buses!

✬Transit

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Developer:

Cost: Free

Available on: iPhone, Android

This is definitely one of my favourite apps, particularly because of how simple it is to use. Transit uses location services to allow you to see where the closest bus and subway stops are to your current location. It also tells you the different route options there are at each stop, and gives you real-time updates on when the next bus/train arrives! It also has a trip planning function, which can be extremely useful when you are in an unfamiliar area.

RocketMan

Developer:  RocketMan Inc

Cost: 
Free

Available on: Blackberry, iPhone (+ iTouch & iPad), Android

RocketMan, much like transit, shows bus and subway stops nearest you, as well as a list of all upcoming trains and busses at each stop. However,  RocketMan outperforms transit in one way – it displays important news updates and alerts  straight from the transit companies. If there is a TTC stoppage, you’ll know about it via RocketMan.

Waze

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Developer: Maplet

Cost: Free

Available on: iPhone, Android, Windows

I wish I had a whole post to talk about this app, since there are so many features to talk about. However, in a nutshell, Waze is described as a “free community-based traffic and navigation app.” You basically just type in your destination before you leave and keep the app open while driving and the app automatically sends traffic and other data to its servers. It keeps you updated (hands-free, of course) with traffic data, road closures, police traps, and much more in real-time. Once you’re stopped, you can also use the app to report incidents/irregularities on the road, such as fallen trees or telephone lines, accidents or collisions, and more. There really is just so much you can do with it, and it’s an awesome app for any commuter who drives to York.

Oh, and also the maps are extremely interactive and customizable, and use cool little cartoon dudes to mark important locations/locations to avoid.

✬MapMyRide

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Developer: MapMyFitness

Cost: Free

Available on: iPhone, Android, Blackberry*

*Limited support on Blackberry App

MapMyRide is an interesting app, because its primary function is for fitness. So, if you are someone who bikes to your bus stop or to school, you not only can use this app’s mapping and trip planning functions to find your way, but you can also keep track of your fitness along the way – a great addition to any rider’s app library.

✬Kindle

Kindle

Developer: Amazon

Cost: Free

Available on: All apple products (including Mac computers), Android, Windows

The Kindle app is not a transit-related app – but if you’re like me, you love using your time on the bus or subway to dive into a good book. The kindle app allows you to do just that, using the Amazon online store as your own personal library. Although books on the Amazon store do unfortunately cost money, they are usually cheaper than books at your local bookstore, and can be opened up on any one of your devices with the kindle app (as well as your kindle e-reader, if you have one). As well, there are many books – much like on iBooks – which are offered for free, and you can even load e-books and PDFs (yes, like for school readings and lecture notes) that you already own from your computer onto your device.

Metro

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Developer: Metro News

Cost: Free

Available on: iPhone, Android, Windows

This is another great reading app – however, rather than books, it features up-to-date news from Metro News.

Have your own app suggestions? Comment below, and let me know! 

Hey, that rhymes! :p

Au revoir! ‘Til next time!

~ Christopher Ford

Morgan and I all dressed up for Retro Day at SCLD! You can find Morgan on twitter @Wildly_Fit!

Morgan and I all dressed up for Retro Day at SCLD! You can find Morgan on twitter @Wildly_Fit!


UPDATE

Here’s an article for you to check out on the ACMAPS (Atkinson Centre for Mature and Part-time Students) blog – it mentions a couple more really useful apps for TTC commuters!

 

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I’m Back! (And looking To Improve)!

Hello all!

Yes, it’s official – I’m back!  I flew in last thursday evening from Saskatoon, SK, and I was very excited to return home to Ontario and see my family, friends, and colleagues again. I must say however that it was pretty tough to say goodbye to all the new friends that I had made – and that’s also without mentioning how tough it was to say goodbye to the beautiful province that I called home throughout the month of May!

IMG_0804Regardless, I was still very excited – particularly, of course, to return to the community here at York University! So, as of this past Monday, I’m back here taking summer courses and working at SCLD. Continue reading

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A Year in Review: What Have I Learned This Year? (**Warning: Long Read**)

Another year (almost) gone by.

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Well, like I said, almost

It truly was a great one – very different from first year, in that it was much more challenging than ever, however everything that I have learned this year truly made it all worthwhile.

So what have I learned this year?

Stay organized

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Every time that I had felt organized this year, I felt in control. I wrote a post about staying organized earlier in the year, and one of my goals for the year was to try to practice what I had preached – that is, utilize some of the methods I mentioned in the post to stay organized.

Although I certainly had times this year where I was not at all organized, the times that I was, I truly felt on top of the world. And certainly I have only become more organized since getting a new smartphone!

Take sufficient breaks

I’ve always been told to take breaks while studying. But no one ever really told me how to take breaks, or for how long. 

One of the things that has helped me this year has been understanding when I need to take a break – essentially, rather than just creating a schedule and factoring a couple breaks into it, I found it most efficient to take a break when need a break. I started to learn a bit more about myself and my own work limits, and I found that when I begin to get distracted, less focused on work, or when my eyes start to tire (usually after about an hour and a half or so of solid working), that is when I need to take a break.

Not only that, but I learned to take breaks that work for me, and that will have me fresh and ready to go by their end! My average break is between 5-30 min long, and I try to pick an activity to do that will reward me for my work, but that will have me ready to go by the time it’s done. If it’s a quick break, I often use that as a snack or tea/coffee break – sometimes, a quick bite is just enough to get me ready to go for my next round of hardcore studying. If it’s a longer break, I try to go for a walk, go spend a bit of time with my sister or my parents (or my brother, if he’s in the neighbourhood), do some cleaning up, or read a book. I try my best to stay away from watching TV or playing video games, because I find that I may get too distracted (and then that 30 min break turns into a 3 hour and 30 min break!). Regardless, I learned to find the break activities that helped me most in being refreshed and prepared to start working again.

TIME MANAGEMENT

THIS. Seriously, procrastination is not fun. And in times of crisis (such as when your hard drive crashes), you’ll wish that you had finished that paper and handed it in weeks in advance (so that you won’t have to ask for an extension when you lose all of your work a week or so before it’s due)!

Time management shouldn’t be a one day event. It should be an ongoing process, which means you should constantly be trying to stay on top of your stuff, and then setting aside time to go out and have fun once you’re all done. However, you should also be realistic – don’t pretend like you’ll actually get that 15 page paper done in two days when you also have class and work. Be realistic about your abilities, and don’t overwork yourself.

Eventually, managing your time will become easy – but don’t get discouraged if you’re not at that stage yet (I know I’m not)!

Back up your work

Buy a USB or a portable hard drive (preferably the latter) or an online cloud service and back up your work. That means saving it in more than one spot, just in the case of, say, your Mac crashing twice in one year, forcing you to pay over $800 in repairs and subsequently scrambling to re-do two papers that you had already completed.

Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Because as soon as you least expect it…BAM! You’re hit with a surpass heavy work load and an even heavier receipt from Apple.

**NOTE: Just as an aside, this really did happen, and I have two words for you if you are planning on buying an Apple computer: Apple. Care. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing the entire content of your computer and then having some ‘genius’ tell you that he is “now going to educate you about why you should have bought Apple Care.” I strongly encourage you to either purchase the insurance with the computer or don’t purchase the computer at all. They are great machines, however things can and do go wrong, like with any other computer.

Scattered Desk, Scattered Mind

The cleaner my desk and/or room, the better I seem to work and feel. Weird, eh? Now, whenever I’m about to sit down to work, I try to clean up my desk, and it really helps!

Review right after class

I have found that reviewing right after class/as soon as I can following my class, the better I can remember concepts at the end of the semester. It really helps things become ingrained in my mind. Not to mention that it helps me come up with some questions to ask during tutorial.

If you’re behind, don’t get discouraged

Let’s face it – I’m not perfect. I get behind in school sometimes. And unless you are perfect (and if you are, please tell me how you do it), you probably get behind on your readings or studying sometimes, just like me.

But fear not, my friends – if you are behind, it’s not the end of the world. What’s more, I have found an easy trick that you can use when you’re behind in your studies, and it works great:

  • Just like you can skip a question if you’re stuck and then return to it on an exam for the sake of time, you can put aside a reading or put aside reviewing your notes if you fall behind. If you don’t get a chance to study one week for whatever reason, just skip it and move on to the next week so that you are moving in time with the course – this way, you can keep up with the course as it moves along without falling behind more and more each week by trying to catch up. Try and use any extra time you have along the way to go over this old stuff, and spend extra time on it later on before your exam to be sure that you know it well.

Just remember that you can get caught up. However, trying to get caught up right away can often lead to you getting even more behind. Keep this in mind, going forward.

Travel Lots

Noula & I in front of Nikolaikirche, Germany's oldest church, in Berlin

My girlfriend & I in front of Nikolaikirche, Germany’s oldest church, in Berlin

Going to Germany this year has truly opened my mind up to the fact that they are places all across the world that I still have yet to explore – whole worlds and ways of life that I have yet to experience and appreciate. The trip this year has sparked my interest in traveling, and I now have a thirst for world experience that I hope to quench in the near future!

Be unsure – But don’t be unprepared

I had a really great conversation with a TA of mine this year about the future. I told him how I, like many students, am genuinely concerned about what I’m going to do after graduating. Not only that, I told him about how I am concerned that I am not in the right program, and that was adding to my stress about what my life would be like post-university.

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So what do you do when you are unsure? What do you do when you are unsure of your program, and unsure of yourself?

What he told me was simple, and yet I had never really thought of it before. It’s okay to be unsure, he told me. Being unsure is about of growing and learning about yourself. However, make sure that, by the time you are done, you will have a direction.

What do you mean by that? I asked him. What he had meant was to use my time in university to explore my academic interests, and to learn what I like. But, in cases like my own where I have found almost everything I have learned interesting, I should choose a general direction for my schooling – with a specific goal in mind – in order to avoid being lost later. Therefore, as the title states, it is certainly okay to be unsure of yourself – however, come up with a goal and a plan to reach it, and this can provide you with a bit of security in case you can’t figure yourself out in time.

There’s lots more that I have learned this year, so stay tuned for Part 2 later on – I will publish it post exams!

Best of luck to all of you on your exams!

~ Christopher Ford

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Just a couple of beauties out for a day on the town…Little sunny out, though!

 

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YOU NEED TO KNOW My Go-To Breakfasts on Campus

Being a commuter student, I don’t eat on campus as often as your average resident. However sometimes I am in a rush and I don’t get the chance to eat breakfast at home. Sometimes (**knock on wood**) I DON’T EVEN HAVE TIME FOR A COFFEE IN THE MORNING.

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And breakfast, of course!

So what do you do if you’re on campus in the morning and you’re looking for a quick (and reasonably priced) breakfast to tide you over? You check out my Go-To Breakfasts, that’s what!

Go-To Breakfast #1: THE SPECIAL (TREATS COFFEE @ YORK U STUDENT CENTRE)

This is my absolute favourite of all. The special (also called the Breakfast Special, but it’s served all day) consists of a bagel sandwich (you choose the type of bagel with egg and your choice of bacon, sausage, or ham. It also contains a HOT & DELICIOUS MEDIUM COFFEE!

Price: $5.00 (All taxes included)

Go-To Breakfast #2: THE BIG BREAKFAST (BERRIES & BLOOMS @ YORK LANES)

It’s a big breakfast… but on a sandwich! Everything that you would get in your average value breakfast is packed beneath the bread of your choice, and it usually comes with a small coffee.

Price: Approximately $4 (Taxes not included)

Go-To Breakfast #3: GLUTEN-FREE TRIPLE GRILLED CHEESE (CAFETERIA @ CENTRAL SQUARE)

This breakfast tastes great, and is a great option for anyone with a gluten-free dietary restriction. It’s pretty well priced, too!

Price: $3.29 (tax not included -> about 4 bucks with tax)

Follow @YorkUFood on Instagram and Twitter to hear about food trucks on campus, le deal du jour, and all the latest and greatest on what to eat at York U!

~ Christopher Ford

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Why York’s Birthday Will Be Your Favourite Day Of The Year

York University turns 55 this year on March 26th, 2014. And you know what that means?

That means your soon-to-be most favourite day of the year is almost here!

Reasons why it’s awesome:

1) FREE Cupcakes, Snow Cones, & Popcorn

Because who doesn’t love stuffing their face for the sake of celebration? giphy

2) Annual Photo Competition (Win Free Coffee for Your WHOLE CLASS)

Faculty of Health Professor Walter Dyba’s class photo, Coaching- KIN 2475, was selected in 2013 as having “Best in Class Spirit” – his class received FREE Coffee!

3) Red & White Spirit Rally! (Tons of Energy and School Spirit Throughout The Day)

Seen here is Rhonda Lenton, vice-provost academic, and Steve Dranitsaris, senior executive officer in the Office of Vice-President, Finance & Administration, who dressed in their best York gear for Spirit Day 2012

Lots of people are showing their support – check out all of this year’s York Spirit Partners!

4)Discounts at the Bookstore and Pride Shop

Get 10% off selected items at the Pride Shop at Tait Mackenzie and 25% off all York gear at the Bookstore!

5) $10 Tees

I got my York shit the summer before my first day... Should have waited until Red & White Day

TEN. DOLLAR. YORK. TEES. I bought my (first) York Tee in first year for, like 25 bucks, if I remember correctly. I think you get my point…

6) Great Food

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Food trucks on food trucks on food trucks.

7) Red & White EVERYWHERE

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A group of York is U volunteers from last year’s Red & White Day

8) Because Another Year of York University is Definitely Something To Celebrate!

Maybe there will be another fireworks display, like at this year’s frosh week? One can dream, I suppose!

See you at Red & White Day!

~ Christopher Ford

Taken in Berlin, Germany

Taken in Berlin, Germany

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Summer School – Is It For You? You NEED TO KNOW!

The summer school schedule is now up and ready for you to check out.

Yes, I know you all must be mentally jumping for joy right now.

In all seriousness though, there are a wide variety of courses offered from all faculties. So you’re bound to find one that you can take, if you’re up for it!

But should you take summer school?

Before you decide, there are a couple of questions that you really need to ask yourself. Read on, and find out what they are!

Continue reading

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Christopher’s Winter Wonderland – THE PERFECT SNOW DAY!

First of all, I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday break full of rest & relaxation, and furthermore I hope you had a very Merry Christmas, if you are an individual who celebrates it.

PHOTO: Wikipedia.org

It is no secret that winter came early this year – the ice storm tore through many parts of the GTA, causing the loss of power for thousands, millions of dollars in damage for the City of Toronto, and the cancellation of exams on the 23rd.  Shortly thereafter, a few dozen cm of snow also decided to drop in for a visit.

All this was within a few days of the ‘official’ start of winter (but, then again, when does Canadian weather follow rules?  The answer – NEVER).

With this in mind, a question arises – when it’s cold outside and when classes are cancelled – when it’s TIME FOR A SNOW DAY – what do you want to do? 

Let me tell you all about my ideal snow day if I was stuck at home. Hopefully it can give you some ideas on how to make the best of the extreme weather, when the time comes! Continue reading

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My Trip During Co-Curricular Days

Although it was a cold and windy week in Kingston, ON, I had an absolute blast staying with my girlfriend and her housemates in their wonderful home near Queen’s University. Great friends, good fun, lots of homework, and Halloween were definitely the highlights of my week and weekend, and despite the weather I was still able to make the best of my co-curricular days.

But did I accomplish everything on my list of stuff to do during Co-Curricular Days? Let’s have a look and see!

**Note: if you didn’t get to see my to-do list before I left, check out my post from last week!

Go For A Run By The Water

Kingston, Ontario, Waterfront

love the waterfront in Kingston, and on Wednesday morning I braved the cold weather and ran alongside the shore. The view was breathtaking, and I don’t think I could ever get tired of the smell of wind and water from the lake. Shortly thereafter however my fingers began to numb a little, so, staying on the safe side, I decided to make my way back to the house.

It may also be important to mention that despite being warned not to wear my York University sweater through the Queen’s campus (because Queen’s students are very serious about Queen’s and stuff), I wore it proudly as I jogged through the Queen’s campus toward the water.

Status: COMPLETED

Visit Ale House

We had a nice night out for Halloween, however we never made our way over to Ale House.

Kind of sad, I know. But I did wear an Ale House Hat!

See? Isn't it awesome!?

See? Isn’t it awesome!?

Status: NOT COMPLETED

Get All My Assignments Done

I sort of got this one done…definitely worked hard, but I took my time and enjoyed myself. Not to mention that the work is virtually never-ending this time of year, so it would have taken me a very long time, anyways.

Status: SORT OF COMPLETED, BUT NOT REALLY

Visit A Place I’ve Never Been Before

Shot on the campus of Queen's University in Ki...

Queen’s University’s Stauffer Library in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. It totally has a spiral staircase inside. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I TOTALLY did this. I walked downtown, saw Goodes Hall, went to Stauffer Library, and encountered so many acronyms for building names at Queen’s that it sounded like I was speaking in code. I almost felt like calling myself CF just to fit in.

But in all seriousness, Queen’s has a wonderful campus with some amazing historical architecture. Although York is Canada’s third largest university, Queen’s is Ontario’s second oldest university, and one of Canada’s oldest – it was established in 1841, 26 years before Canada even became a country. This means that it has tons of historical buildings, such as Ontario Hall, and I got a chance to explore many of them during my time up in Kingston last week.

Status: COMPLETED

Check Out A Museum

Really sad that I didn’t do this. But I definitely will next time I am up (when it isn’t pouring rain, of course)!

Status: NOT COMPLETED

Practice My French

I tried…But it’s hard to find someone to practice with when you’re far from home.

Status: SORT OF COMPLETED, BUT NOT REALLY

And there you have it! Pretty productive overall, and I had some fun along the way!

~ Christopher Ford

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At York University, I Am Most Thankful For…

Choice. I am so grateful for the fact the I have choice in my education in a variety of ways.

English: Coat of Arms of York University, Toro...

English: Coat of Arms of York University, Toronto, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many people fear that going to a big school will be the pits. And being Canada’s third largest university with the largest enclosed campus, York is pretty darn big. 

However this is not the case. The fact that we are so big provides students with so much choice in programs, classes, clubs, and places to be – Not to mention that we at York are just, in general, awesome.

In academics, I am so thankful that every year I have thousands of courses to choose from, and my particular program allows me to take many courses from all different departments and faculties as long as spots are available. I don’t just have a set schedule – I get to learn what I want, and enjoy doing it!

In my free time, I get to choose from well over 400 clubs to join, and virtually all of them have events running throughout the year that I can attend even if I’m not a member. Clubs, councils, organizations, and student unions – the seemingly never-ending choices allow me to find a past time I truly enjoy, to connect with people that have the same interests as me, and to make the most out of my university experience. 

The summertime view beside HNE

The summertime view beside HNE

Furthermore, whenever I’m on campus, I have the choice to be where I want to be. Having a large campus also means having many different spots to hang out, study, enjoy the outdoors, or to do virtually whatever I feel like doing. Not too many people can say that their university has 5 libraries (or even one that  has 5 floors), a gym that costs 15 bucks to join, dozens of lounges, study rooms, and computer labs, or even simply a pub, restaurant, or coffee shop (which we have numerous). 

There are literally choices everywhere I turn at York University, and I am super thankful for each of them.

What are YOU thankful for at York U? Comment and let me know! 

~ Christopher Ford

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Wasaga Beach for my 17th Birthday

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Wasaga Beach for my 17th Birthday

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