Tips

The Beginner’s Guide to Eating More Plants

So, you wanna eat more plants, eh? Maybe you read any book on the subject of the food industry? Maybe you just learned about the health horrors of eating too much meat? Maybe you read my post on the topic?

Anyways, I’d like to welcome you aboard!

**Important: note that I didn’t call this post “The Beginner’s Guide to Vegetarianism”. That’s because I don’t want to limit the number of people who hear my message. I don’t want people to be scared off by the thought of becoming a strict vegetarian or vegan. In my own life, I have started to eschew labels entirely, and have created for myself a hybrid eating pattern that falls under no label. I would encourage everyone to do the same! If you don’t think you can give up eating meat entirely, don’t. Cut back instead, to whatever you feel comfortable eating! It’s not all-or-nothing folks. In my opinion, the most important thing when it comes to ‘vegetarianism’ isn’t people sitting around criticizing each other for their eating habits, and fighting over who is the better ‘vegetarian’. It’s about education, about more and more people learning the information and starting to ask for different practices in the industry. It’s about us realizing we could unite instead of divide against this problem. I’m so sick of people having to be strict vegans for their choices to ‘count’ or to ‘matter’. Screw that! Let’s all eat whatever we want, get educated, and ask for something better. Let’s not ostracize each other or scare people off from learning the information.  **

So. Whoever you are, welcome aboard! You’ve decided to eat more plants! Good for you. Plants are good, plants are great. I love plants.

Here are some reasons I love plants:

Portobello mushroom burgers with bruschetta!

  • They harvest their energy directly from the sun! No middlemen for plants.That’s messed up!
  • “Common estimates are that 2-5 times more grain is required to produce the same number of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption”(1). Aka the amount of plants that you feed to one cow could feed five times the number of people that the cow could feed. That’s messed up.
  • They come in all shapes, sizes and colours. They’re so exciting and exotic. There’s so many to discover!
  • Plants help you poop great! Thanks fibre. Thanks.
  • Plants are full of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants and yummy goodies that keep us strong and healthy.

How To Eat More Plants

1. Develop your own eating mantra.

If labels are scary, take the pressure off. Who says you have to answer for your choices anyways?? Certainly not me. It’s up to you what you eat, when and why! If you can’t fathom giving up seafood, focus on eliminating everything else. If chicken’s your downfall, eat less of other meats. Or if you want to eliminate all animals, do that! Just make sure your eating mantra reflects your true beliefs about your health and happiness. Once you’ve established in your mind what you want to avoid, what you want to consume, and what you want to explore, solidify it. Stand by it. You really aren’t obligated to explain your lifestyle decisions to anyone else! For example, my eating mantra is: Avoid meat and seafood, unless farm fresh or organically/sustainably farmed (and only extremely occasionally); consume as many plants as possible; explore new sources of protein and new types of fruits and veggies! I still own a leather jacket from before I was a vegetarian, I still eat eggs and cheese on occasion, I’m forever trying new vegan cheeses and recipes. I am a contradiction by other people’s standards but I live by my own. Decide what to be, and go be it. Don’t apologize!

2. Take Vitamin B-12.

If you do decide to stop consuming meat and dairy (0r a lot of meat and a lot of dairy) I (and various nutritionists) recommend taking a vitamin B12 supplement. B12 is one of the only vitamins which is essential and is very hard to find in large amounts in plant sources, making it important to take as a supplement. In my readings about health and plant-eating, it’s the only supplement you really need to be taking, as long as you’re eating a variety of plants, getting protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium and Vitamin D. Sound hard? It’s not. See below!

3. Eat the right foods!


This article from Vegetarian Times is an excellent one. It explains 8 foods that are essential for herbivores (although most carnivores should really be eating these super healthy foods too!). I’ll re-list them here, along with some easy, yummy recipes to try for each!

Tofu – excellent source of protein, zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin D.

  • Tofu scramble tastes deliciously like scrambled eggs, minus a lot of the cholesterol and plus all the goodness of tofu! This recipe is great because it breaks down how to choose the right tofu and make a no-fail version yourself. Or check out this one from Oprah.com!
  • Pad thai is an excellent thing to add tofu to, since tofu (by nature) soaks up the flavours of what it’s marinated in, and tastes just very yummy. Pad thai is one of my favourite dishes of all time! Check out this recipe.

Lentils – protein, fibre, iron, B vitamins, folate

Beans – iron galore!, fibre, protein, potassium, zinc, calcium

  • One of my favourite ways to eat beans is in a vegetarian chili. This recipe from Moosewood is wonderful, it’s what my mummy always makes!
  • This recipe for Southwestern Bean Burgers comes from the new Moosewood Cooking For Health cookbook. It’s one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten, period. The tortilla chips make it amazing.

Nuts – lots of protein, zinc, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium (almonds)

  • As a snack! I usually don’t leave the house without a little tupperware of walnuts and almonds!
  • Try any of these yummy looking nut recipes
  • Throw cashews into your stir frys or quinoa salads

Whole grains – one way to get B12 without a supplement, but take the supplement too!, zinc, fibre

  • Quinoa salad! Cook some quinoa (keen-wah) and add chopped carrots, radishes, cauliflower, green onions, avocado, anything. Add some salad dressing of your choice and eat up. Yum yum.
  • Eat whole grain bread
  • Consume couscous, bulgur (in chili), brown rice, rye

Leafy greens – antioxidants, iron, folic acid, vitamins A and C

Dried Fruit – high sources of iron, fibre and protein


Keep in mind too that people are crazy these days about ‘getting enough protein’. The truth? We currently consume about twice as much protein as we need!(2) So relax a bit. It’s highly unlikely that you will suffer a protein deficiency. Concentrate on the above foods and you will get more than enough vitamins, protein, iron and fiber that you need daily. So don’t listen to the uneducated naysayers about this..

4. Avoid the wrong foods!

As you can see from #3, there are so many delicious foods that can be used creatively to make delicious meals. There is no shortage of yummy vegetarian recipes that do not include massive amounts of processed anythings, so explore the world of plant-y goodness! But make sure that along the way you’re not taking the lazy, unhealthy way: the path away from goodness and health. Here are some foods you definitely do not want to eat!

Processed foods – well, even if you’re not eating a plant-diet, you still shouldn’t be eating too many of these foods. I know they’re hard to avoid, but the amount of sugar and salt and the lack of nutritional value makes foods like chips, pop, junk or fast food bad for your body and mind. And just because they’re ‘vegetarian’ doesn’t automatically make them a healthy choice!

Starchy, white carbs – carbs are our friends, but not of the white, thoroughly processed and stripped of their nutritional content variety. Don’t head towards white pastas and pizzas, just because they don’t have meat in them! That is not the way to go, especially since incorporating whole grains and veggies into your diet is not very hard at all, once you make the decision to.

5. Continue to educate yourself.

Learn learn learn! Learn as much as you can about the power of plants, about the terrors of our food industry, about what you can do for your health. Look up recipes online for ways to incorporate super foods! Read up on the health implications of eating more plants! Once you’re educated on the topic, you can start to reach out and inform others. Education is the catalyst for change, and our generation can be the critical mass against the food industry! So learn and teach and educate. Here are some resources I truly love and recommend:

Books:

The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan

Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer

The Kind Diet – Alicia Silverstone

Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlosser

Quantum Wellness – Kathy Freston

Skinny Bitch – Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

Moosewood Cooking for Health

PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook

Websites:

Crazy Sexy Life

Vegetarian Times

……………………………….

So.

Okay my plant-based friends, I hope that my guide to plants and their delights helped you in one way or another. Maybe it inspired you to try making an animal-free meal, or maybe to give up animals altogether! Either way, I hope that you learned something of value.

Please let me know if you have any questions about any of this stuff. Most of my information comes from the books I’ve read (all of the ones listed above) and various articles online. I urge you to read the material yourself and come to your own conclusions, choose your own path. Try to eat consciously, monitor how you’re feeling and consult your doctor if you experience any health issues. Generally though, if you follow a colourful and careful plant-based diet, you’ll be doing more for your health than with any other eating pattern out there!

Happy eating my friends!

xoxo,

Style Direction: Tribal Gypsy

Okay, I hope that everyone here reads Gala Darling by now. If you do, yay you! If you don’t, start. I adore her blog.

Anyways, the reason I mention her is because she does this absolutely killer feature every so often called ‘Style Direction’, where she outlines her general aesthetic for the coming months. And they’re incredible. Read them here and here.

I was so inspired by this idea that I decided to try and emulate her way with words and seemingly endless sources of inspiration with my own little style direction piece. It won’t be as good. :)

……………….

Tribal Gypsy

Photo thanks to The Sartorialist

She’s a new-age free spirit with so much joie de vivre it’s impossible to keep her down. She’s a creator, not a consumer. She lives her life out loud. She isn’t interested in looking “perfect” and isn’t interested in trends. She wears whatever catches her eye, whatever she feels good in, whatever suits her best. She never lets society place restrictions on her clothes, and she isn’t afraid to wear the brightest colours in the crayon box: Carribbean Green, Jazzberry Jam, Wild Strawberry, Neon Carrot.

She abhors plastic surgery and orange skin. She hates all things fake. She loves natural beauty, embracing your curves and smile-lines and she believes you’re never too old to dance.


She believes everyone in the world was born to cry, smile, laugh, sing, dance: the universals. She doesn’t believe in bad dancers or bad singers. She doesn’t believe in regrets. She is fascinated by all cultures of the world, and lets them be her inspiration for fashion. She loves to wear chunky necklaces, thin gold bangles, dramatic earrings; blouses from Romania, pendants from Mexico, colourful scarves from Paris. And if she’s never been to these places, she wears pieces inspired by them.


Her style is like a chameleon: it changes with her mood. One day she might be channeling a hippie, the next a fashion maven who lives in Soho, the next a African warrior princess. No matter what though, she always listens to herself before the trends. She wears her summer dresses and sandals in winter and her fall boots in the summer. She mixes and matches patterns, revinvents her accessories every few weeks, and styles her clothes in new ways all the time. She doesn’t shy away from wacky looks or avant-garde fashion. She’ll try anything. She loves patterned tights! She only spends money on things that are ‘spot-on’ and perfect for her.

She loves culture, and explores the city she lives in as if she were a tourist. She makes plans to visit highly-rated restaurants, museums, outdoor markets, vintage clothing stores. She has a favourite bakery, bookstore, park bench, library. She doesn’t mind wandering around downtown, admiring shop windows or eating street food.

She has boundless enthusiasm for adventure and learning, she soaks up trivia and opinions like a sponge. She isn’t judgemental and views all religions, races and lifestyle choices as equal. She makes friends by really listening and being interested in other people. She doesn’t just wait for her turn to speak, she tries to understand the other person’s point of view.

She loves to make care packages, cookies and collages. She loves to write letters to her friends, sealed with a kiss. She always carries around a notebook, a novel and a lovely pen. She can make a killer gin and tonic.


She loves to fill her apartment with beautiful photography, ethnic rugs, candles, posters, strings of white lights, Chinese lanterns, bowls of candy, huge bright flowers. She likes statuettes and hand-made vases and natural soaps. She loves flea markets and garage sales.


She likes to experiment in the kitchen with different flavours and ingredients. She isn’t afraid of dragon fruit or pomegranates! She makes her own jams and soups, brownies and hummus. She is an active participant in her health, and strives to follow the Food Rules: things like “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t” and “treat treats as treats”.


She likes flowy, floaty, colourful, bright, intricate, comfortable clothes. She likes shoes that don’t give her blisters, and heels that make her legs look great. She loves boots and cute sneakers. She loves bags that have a personality; in fact she likes it when all of her clothes have a personality. She likes her fashion to have a story behind it. She likes hats. She likes clothes that are fun and vibrant.


She isn’t afraid to be alone! She can eat alone, sit alone, go to the movies with herself. She doesn’t mind what other people think of her, because she knows they are probably only fascinated by her anyways. She is a life enhancer.

She’s just herself.

……………….

Well. What do you guys think?

Keep in mind that this is only my personal style direction, I’m not saying everyone has to like the same aesthetic as I do! I am also not suggesting that I already am this girl..I still have a long way to go before I become as fashionable and cultured and adventurous as she is. But I am drawing inspiration from what I find the most attractive.

You may remember a previous post where I talked about my love for Coco Chanel style. And while it remains true that I adore spots and stripes (George of the Jungle? Anybody?) it came to me like a jolt the other day: I’m trying to be somebody I’m not. I was trying to be the classic, classy, perfect girl, who carries a gorgeous bag and has tailored clothes.

And while I love that aesthetic and the girls who can pull it off, it’s just not me. My style is full of colour and personality, and somewhere along the line I’d forgotten about it. So consider this my first step towards Radical Self Love: admitting to myself what I really like and accepting it completely (that’s more Gala for you!).

I would love to know: what is your style direction for now? What clothes/accessories are you most attracted to right now? What are some pieces you’re totally coveting? What are some new ways you want to style the clothes you already have?

Tell me!!


Much love to all of you,


Eat Your Fruits & Veggies!

Ooh they're so pretty and gorgeous and awesome!

Alright people, listen up. I am about to say something very important:

EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES.

I am so serious.

This is so important.

Please do this for yourself.

Fruits and veggies are *magical* foods. They will rock you to your core. They are the secret to longevity and happiness. I’m not making this up! Eat them!!

The Theory

Okay, let’s get all sciencey on you. Read up on the Free-radical Theory of aging. It basically says that when certain particles in your body have too few electrons in them, they go wild! They are reactive and try to grab at more electrons, causing damage to your cells. These particles are called free-radicals, and they are VERY BAD, basically. That’s why you need antioxidants! They freely give some electrons to these free-radical particles so that the free-radicals are satisfied and stop ravaging your body. That’s why anti-oxidants slow the aging process, because they cause less damage to be done! Yay antioxidants!

The Gist of It..

The amount of key antioxidants that many species maintain in their body is directly proportional to their lifespan
-Richard Cutler, M.D., former director of Aging Research for the National Institutes of Health
Antioxidants are so amazing. Higher levels = less damage to your body = less chance for disease. Great equation.
Higher levels protect against
  • macular degeneration
  • cancers
  • diabetes
  • heart conditions

Hmm, does this sound intimidating?

Your Part.

Here’s what you should do to protect, help and strengthen yourself!

  1. Eat your fruits and veggies! Nine servings total daily is what Health Canada recommends, AIM HIGHER! They provide tons of natural antioxidants to soothe those sad little free-radicals. Fruits and veggies are the #1 best way to get your antioxidants + they’re so yummy and so awesome so EAT THEM!
  2. Look out for challenges! Some challenges to antioxidant absorption are stress, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, antibiotics. Look out for these and try your best (if possible) to avoid them, or supplement with extra fruits and veggies.
  3. Get your antioxidant level measured! I got mine done at my optometrist, who was checking in order to prevent macular degeneration down the line. Ask your doctor about getting your levels tested, and talk to him about choices going forward (supplements like omega-3 oils and antioxidant pills could be recommended by your doctor)

My 'Very Good' antioxidant score - 42 thousand!

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Okay, I now sound like an advertisement for the fruits and veggies society of Canada or something like that (does that even exist?) but I feel very strongly about this subject! I can’t help myself. I want all of you to be healthy + happy!

Yaddy yaddy yaddy.

Plant-centered diet is the way to go, people! Just ask Kris Carr..

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Alright, that’s enough Public Service Announcements for one day. Yeesh!

I’m going to go eat an apple now. Or some carrot sticks. Or some spinach salad. Or some tomatoes. Or some onions and peppers and pineapple and peaches! YUM.

xoxo, S.

20 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting University

I’m sure many of you are gearing up to hit your first year of University, and are scared out of your minds.

I don’t blame you: I sure was, about this time last year. As the eldest child, I was the first in my family to go away to school, and I didn’t get much pertinent info from my older university-grad cousins. So I was pretty stressed. It’s not as if high school really prepares you all that well for the real deal, what with your teachers waxing poetic about what school was like ‘back in their day’ and emphasizing their own personal note-taking methods (not realizing, of course, that your style of note-taking comes with lots and lots of trial and error). So you suddenly end up in the summer before the rest of your life, your head full of mumbo jumbo and feeling pretty freggin’ nervous.

Of course, you could be one of those ‘fearless’ types. Or you could be, like friends of mine, absolutely dying to get away from high school and their families. Either way, I hope that these lessons I learned in my first year are helpful to you.

What I Wish I’d Known

School pride!

1. It’s impossible to not make friends. Honestly. It is. As soon as you get there, you’ll be bombarded with people and events, all set up for you to meet new people. You’ll be running around introducing yourself, asking where people are from and what they’re studying. And that’s just the first couple days! Then comes frosh (aka nonstop socializing), then classes, then labs/conferences. You’ll start to bond with your floor, start to go out with certain people and have different experiences.  You’ll start to make great friendships. You’ll gravitate towards certain people, spend more time with others, and sooner or later you’ll end up with people you refer to as friends! Easy peasy. So don’t worry, you’ll definitely make friends. But you won’t immediately find close friendships. That’s hard to accept, especially for people like me who had a great support system in high school. But close friendships take time! Take it slow, trust your instincts, and eventually lots of great friendships will start to blossom.

You'll make awesome friends..:)

2. You’re already interesting. Don’t worry so much about whether or not you’ll be perceived as ‘cool’. Don’t try to change yourself before university! What makes us different makes us interesting. Be yourself, as hard as that can sometimes be, and people will love you for who you are. Honest.

3. You’ll probably cry a lot. Sorry. It’s kinda true. The reasons are different for everyone: maybe (like me) you’ll burst into tears over your calculus textbook practically every time you try to study, or maybe you’ll suffer a bad long-distance relationship breakup, or maybe you’ll be sad you’re not making close friends faster, or maybe you’ll be homesick, or maybe any number of things. Don’t think that you’re the only one crying. YOU AREN’T. When I became close to a few girls on my floor after a few months, they told me that they’d thought I’d had it all figured out during those first few months (when actually I was falling apart) and that they’d been crying a lot too (even though I thought they’d been fine!). Point is: you’re not alone. Everyone feels sad, everyone wants to be reached out to. So if you knock on a door every once and a while, you might find some great friends way faster! :)

4. The school part is just another step up. You know how Grade 12 was harder than Grade 11 (hello! calculus?) and Grade 11 was harder than Grade 10? Well guess what. Grade First Year University is harder than Grade 12. It’s another step up. But no, it’s not impossible. The trickiest part about first year is learning how to learn at a university level (your note-taking method, time-management) while balancing a social life, it’s not the material itself. Of course, I’m not saying that it’s easy! Learning how to learn is very tricky, the workload can seem overwhelming, sometimes the teaching methods make you want to cry (see #3!) but, it’s manageable. As long as you figure out how to balance school and fun, and put your mind to it, you’ll succeed. The ones who fail are the ones who can’t balance, and tip the scales towards fun. The scales have to be even!

My study space..

5. You should indulge your personality type. Try to think about whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert – look at the definitions here to figure it out for yourself. In my opinion, it’s important to be conscious of the distinction, because when you hit university, you’re in an extrovert’s world. Constant socializing, all day and all night, during meals, classes, partying, etc. Especially in a dorm! For introverts (or people who are half and half!) it’s important to find ways to take time for yourself before you become drained. You see, extroverts get lots of energy from social interactions, whereas introverts harvest energy in alone time. So if you’re an introvert (as I partially am), it’s okay to get away from it all and spend time by yourself. Find a quiet place if you don’t have a single room, go for a walk, go explore on your own, write in a journal. Make sure you replenish that energy so that you still have the motivation to socialize some of the time.

I love walking up the mountain to get away

6. Going home is not the answer. I know that sometimes you might be hurting. You want your mama. Not a big deal, we’re all there sometimes. But in your first year, it’s crucial that you don’t go home every weekend. You might be terrified to put yourself out there and socialize, but people want to be friends with you. They’ll embrace you with open arms! I promise. But if you don’t make any effort and go home at every occasion, you’ll be missing out on an important chance to find friends, and find yourself. You can’t be your own person if you never let go of home and the security it provides. University is the time to forge out forward and discover yourself and others. *However, if what you’re feeling is more than social fear, and you feel extremely depressed (lack of appetite, insomnia, or thoughts of suicide {a better analysis here} then it may be a great idea to reach out to your family, and take a short break from school or seek therapy.* Just this year, a boy on one of my friend’s dorm floors committed suicide while at school. It was a tragedy. The pressures of university are great, try not to be afraid to reach out to a floor fellow, family member or friend for help or someone to talk to.

7. You may dislike a few people. Or more than a few. You’ll run into several types of people at university, from all walks of life and backgrounds. It’s safe to assume you won’t get along with many of them. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just gravitate towards people who make you feel happy and everything will work out. Sometimes, jerks will ingratiate themselves into your life, as my friend (whose roommate was dating an asshole) found out. In those instances, the most you can do is try to ignore them, set boundaries with the roommate, and grit your teeth until they go away. Don’t indulge them. Try not to spend time with them.

8. A single bed fits two. Trust me and my friends.

9. You’ll probably want a quiet place. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you’ll need some time alone every once in a while. Whether to make private phone calls, cry, reflect, or study, you should have somewhere to yourself. This is not easy to find. I was lucky to have a single room, but the walls are thin, so I found solace outside, in libraries, and in my closet. Ha! Try and find somewhere to yourself, it’s hard to be around people when you want to be alone.

10. If alcohol is God, then drinking is the bible, but you can choose how religious you want to be. Make no mistake, a ton of drinking occurs at university. Any university. Mostly, it is good times, it’s fun! But everyone’s different. Not everyone reads the bible every single day: most read from it once or twice a week. Likewise, some people go out/drink more than others. At university, if you wanted to, you could find people going out to a bar any night of the week (Mondays are definitely not off limits, the weekend starts on Thursday). The question is, do you want to? It’s up to you to decide. Remember that without balance, you will fail in all aspects of your life.

My friend Morgan

11. “Routine is despair’s sly assassin.” What a fantastic quote, right? And it’s true. Whether it be a sleep schedule, a weekly timeslot for the gym, specific times of days for meals: routines are so important. Your health when at school is of the utmost importance: how will you study, party and socialize if you’re exhausted or sick? You won’t. Trust me, you don’t wanna be sick at school. Routines are also good for stress relief. For example, if you have a plan or schedule for exam studying, the whole ordeal will be less overwhelming. Routine kills despair. Remember this, young grasshoppers!

12. Expanding your comfort zone is hard, but necessary. Nobody said it would be easy! Or maybe they did, but they lied. Going away to school is probably one of the worst, hardest, and best experiences you will ever have. Sure, it’s the best years of your life, but it’s some of the hardest too. You’re busy trying to get good grades, learn how to live on your own, make great friends, figure out who you are, etc, etc, and all the while, your comfort zone that you lived happily inside all through high school is rapidly spreading, maybe faster than you want it to. But it’s important to push yourself, be scared, do new things. It’ll be terrifying and hard, but you won’t regret it – or you will, but it will be a life lesson.

At the Rocky Horror Picture Show!

13. Not everyone has lost their virginity! So for goodness sake don’t go rush out this summer and lose it just so that you won’t be the only one left. Trust me, you won’t be the only one left. I’ve met tons of people this year, some were virgins, some weren’t. The point is, the question only ever comes up when you’re already becoming very close friends, and at that point they won’t suddenly drop you if you’re a virgin. Yeesh, look what television and movies will do to people these days!

14. University students are constantly comparing themselves to each other. You do it, I do it. Everyone does it. You always want to know where you stand, whether it be in classes, how much you exercise, how much you party, etc. It’s important to remember that this is a natural thing, this is how people figure out where they fit in to things. Sometimes it can be annoying, especially if people are aggressive about it (in some of my classes, people would constantly ask about grades because they were desperate to be on top) but I always love to remember this quote from The Sunscreen Song: “Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

15. Don’t try and find a roommate for next year within your first month. Honestly, you have time, I swear. Besides, your friend group may change drastically between October and March. Your living situation is a complicated affair, and it will probably have many changes, additions or substitutions before being finalized. So for goodness sake don’t get yourself caught up in a plan for next year in late September: chances are you’ll meet someone else you want to room with! In your first few months, try not to get all stressed about living sitches, focus on school and friends. The rest will fall into place. I promise!

16. Calling your Mom is quite acceptable. People will not mock you for it. Everyone’s doing it. Some people less than others, but it is nothing to be ashamed of. But you probably already knew that. Here I was, thinking that when I got to school, I’d be tormented for calling my mom so much. What can I say? We’re friends.

17. People will respect your choices. People will accept you whether or not you drink, whether or not you smoke, whether or not you do drugs, whether or not you party. They probably won’t accept you (or not too many of them at least) if you never socialize, but any other lifestyle choice will be fine. Honestly! I had friends who didn’t drink, I had friends who were borderline alcoholics (kidding), people who had various study habits, various partying habits.. In the end, the people you’ll end up being friends with will accept your lifestyle choices. Basically, your attitude is everything. If you’re having a great time and being friendly, people won’t care what you’re doing! Here’s a great article from College Fashion about not drinking at school, if you want more information.

18. There is so much exploring to do! You’re living/studying in a brand new city, full of people, events, restaurants, sights, shopping, etc. Don’t miss out on it! Don’t be afraid to escape the University Bubble a couple times during your first year. It makes it so much more fun! Visit a friend at their school, go out for dinner off campus, visit a museum or local attraction, play outside. There is tons to do, tons to explore. Try to get away from the studying, stress, and clubs every once in a while and get to know your city!

Save a horse, ride a bull

19. Get to know your school. Try and get the most out of your fine establishment! Learn as much as you can about the school itself. My campus, for example, has a sex store, a bar, several tunnels (very handy for Montreal winters), an all night hotline (call for any information you could ever want, from jokes to pickup lines to how late the pizza place is open), tons of awesome libraries (yep, I’m a giant nerd), and lots of amazing theatre throughout the year. My friends have similar perks at their schools, or different ones. Explore, ask around, find out all the goodies your school has to offer.

I love my triceratops

20. Don’t worry so much. Everything will work out just fine. It really will. You’ll survive first year, whether or not you worry, so try not to! It’ll be a topsy turvy, crazy ride, with lots of surprises and new experiences. Try and make the most of each of them, and don’t stress so much. I know personally that this is easier said than done, but I’m trying to worry less and live more!

My birthday party!

Conclusion

Going away to university can be the scariest and most fun experience in your whole life. I know that. You know that. I hope that you can get something out of these lessons I learned during my first year, but if you don’t – you’ll learn them yourself your first year! Good luck my loves.

Oh hey: you first year survivers, anything to add? What did you learn this year? Let me know and I’ll add it into this post.

xoxo, S.

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