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Beyond the Pupil: Iris Robin

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Toronto chapter.

It’s that time of year again: application time. 12th graders are scrambling to finish their university applications and first years are still trying to figure out what their POSt is going to be. To help with the application, HerCampus is scouting out upper years who seem to have their life together and fishing for great advice on campus life and life on campus.

Iris Robin is one of those people on campus that you can’t help but to admire–not only are they on top of their schoolwork, they are the Associate News Editor of The Varsity, as well as a member of a myriad of clubs and organizations. On top of school, Iris manages to hold down a part-time job. Here are some of their answers about being at U of T, and their favourite parts of being part of our community.

Name: Iris Robin

Year of Study: Third year

Program of study: English Literature specialist, French minor

College: Trinity College

Res or non res? Resident

Can you describe what attracted you to University of Toronto when you were applying to colleges/universities? What made you decide that U of T is the school for you?

I mainly chose U of T for the college and the location. I was excited for the small college community and Trinity’s traditions. I’ve always been interested in tradition and history and so the prospect of going to a college where those things would play a part in my social life was really what drew me to the college. As for U of T itself, it has a stellar reputation abroad and the English department is brilliant – my experience with them has only ever been amazing. The fact that the university is in Toronto was a huge deciding factor. I love big cities and there’s so much to do here.

Can you describe your university experience as a First Year in five words?

Everything I imagined, and more!

Can you describe your current university experience in five words?

There is never enough time.

What are some of your favourite activities/events on campus? Why?

I love the student society formal dances. I like getting dressed up, seeing the friends I have at other colleges, and eating fancy food! I also really enjoy community-building events like Frosh Week, Queer Orientation, eXpression Against Oppression, and Sexual Awareness Week. These events are safe spaces, and they help educate students about important issues and challenges faced by marginalised people. A couple of LGBTQ+ clubs also hosted the first ever Asexual Awareness Week this year, which was very exciting.

Are you part of any groups/clubs, and what attracted you to them?

I am! I’m an Associate News Editor with the campus paper, The Varsity. I’ve been with them for about two years now. I started at the end of my first year because I’ve always enjoyed writing and I wanted to meet people outside my college and become an expert on campus news. I read the paper religiously during my first year and I wanted to find out how everything worked. I’m also the Co-Editor-In-Chief of The Innis Review, the undergraduate journal at Innis College. I was a member of their Editorial Board and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to stay involved.

As for my own college, I’ve been on the Trinity College Literary Institute (The Lit) for three years. It’s Trinity’s satirical debating society and is older than the college itself. I knew what it was before I applied and I was attracted to the unique mix of debating and comedy. I owe a lot to The Lit – I met most of my really good friends at Trinity through it. Finally, I’m the Treasurer for two clubs: Rainbow Trinity and Students for Gender Equity. Both of these clubs deal with social causes that I’m passionate about and I’m really proud of the work we’ve done.

What is your favourite place to hang out on or near campus? Why?

The great thing about U of T is that it’s within walking distance of so many cool neighbourhoods. I spend a lot of time at the Bloor Annex because it is convenient and there is a lot of variety in terms of food, but Kensington Market and Chinatown are always going to be my favourites. Kensington’s hip and quirky, and Chinatown is fun and affordable.

Which library is your favourite to study in? Why?

I like to study at Robarts. It compels me to actually write my papers! I also spend a lot of time in Graham Library, which is where I work. I’d say it’s the cosiest library on campus but I see people asleep there all the time!

If you could carve out your own corner of campus, what are the buildings that you would want to include? Why?

I don’t know that I’d want to carve out a corner of the campus. I like that there is variety and I like knowing that I can find something different at each building I go to. From an aesthetic point of view, I’d include all the older historical buildings, but that’s simply a matter of exterior preference and not a matter of wishing to include or exclude certain buildings and their services or students.

Can you give a quick description of the community that is at U of T, and what you like best about it?

It’s difficult to describe the entire university as a community. My experience has been all about finding smaller communities, whether they are with the people in my program, or at my college, or at the clubs of which I am a part.

Do you have any advice for underclassmen (or upperclassmen), as they continue their university career?

Get involved if you can. You’re here to get a degree, but you also have the chance to learn through experiences that you wouldn’t otherwise have. Find something that you love, and cultivate it, or try something completely new. If you’re having trouble with anything, look for help. The chances are that there is a service somewhere on campus that can help you deal with whatever it is you need. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for advice, whether it be from a don, a professor, or a fellow student. Remember that your grades don’t define you and that a couple of bad midterm marks aren’t going to ruin your life.

Do you have any advice for high school seniors/12th graders who are applying to U of T?

Spend some time on the application. If you have a supplementary college application, try and use up the full word limit.

How did you know what POSt you wanted after first year? Did you also struggle with indecisiveness?

I knew at the beginning of first year what I wanted to do. It was never a struggle for me.

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Shuyin Yu

U Toronto

Shuyin is currently studying at the University of Toronto in the northern land of Canada. She specializes in English with a minor in Creative Expressions and spends her free time reading, writing, and being confused at other people. She has a passion for poetry, a soft spot for kittens, and a crippling caffeine addiction. Between her insanely complicated Starbucks drinks, ungodly large David’s Tea collection, she can be seen running around the St. George Campus, trying to figure out where her classes are. Luckily, she spends a good amount of her time in Graham Library and Hart House so she can always be found between the rich wood settings as she types away on her laptop. She also manages the social media outlets for the UToronto chapter, and is working on her GRE's while trying to boost her GPA. Besides working on a short story collection and a series of poetry for the past year, she occasionally freelances for the various papers and journals around campus. If she's staring at you, she's just people watching for inspiration. Maybe one day, she will be able to write full time--until then she’s moving full steam ahead towards graduate schools.