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My Academic Adventure

The path to academic success varies for each student. You have the controls to make your academic journey as exciting and as rewarding as you want. Below, three Arts & Science students share their academic adventures and what they learned on the way.
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Eros Grinzato,

Double major in contemporary Asian studies and economics

Hometown: Castel San Pietro, Switzerland

One thing about me: I can speak varying degrees of English, Italian, Spanish, French, German and Mandarin.

Wish I had known: Don’t stay stuck on who you were in high school. It’s a good time to start fresh.

I travelled to Southeast Asia as part of an International Course Module. In second year, a couple of us started brainstorming ideas, and from there the whole process was extremely student-led. The trip was enriching on all dimensions. We met with people you would never meet under other circumstances, including political leaders, media and heads of multinational businesses. The highlight was meeting local university students. It was eye-opening to hear their perspectives and how different day-to-day life is for them. We’re still in contact to this day.

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Janessa Duran,

Double major in peace, conflict and justice studies, and diaspora and transnational studies

Hometown: Simi Valley, California

One thing about me: I did a year of high school in Chile.

Wish I had known: If you want to do well, you can, but opportunities only appear if you chase them.

I was the Political/Economic Intern at the U.S. Consulate General Toronto in the summer after first year. I really wanted to get involved and volunteer, and one of my lecturers helped connect me to this position (with an awesome reference!). I got to conduct research and prepare briefing documents for the U.S. Ambassador to Canada on diverse policy issues like combatting human trafficking and countering violent extremism. It was a life-changing experience. The highlight of the internship was meeting the diplomats, who are well-respected professionals and now incredible mentors in my life. I never imagined I would have this opportunity by second year. 

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Victor Lee,

Double major in neuroscience and animal physiology

Hometown: Richmond Hill, Ontario

One thing about me: I play the piano and have my performance diploma for music.

Wish I had known: I found out this year U of T has a mountain-biking team, and there are all sorts of cool trails within Toronto.

Undergraduate studies are a great time to develop a breadth of knowledge and find out what you want to pursue next. Through my department I had the opportunity to work in local hospitals and at the Wheeler Microfluidics Laboratory. One of the areas of focus in the lab is drug screening on cancer cells. This lab is actually more about engineering. Engineering and biology may appear to be unrelated, but I have found that  gaining experience in another area has helped me improve my understanding of biology concepts.You never know when something you learn in one area will help in another. 

 Explore the different academic programs available to Arts & Science students.

The What?! Decoding Amazing Opportunities

There is so much available to enrich your academic experience, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Here’s a breakdown of a few of your options.

Backpack to Briefcase provides opportunities to meet, mingle and network with alumni and faculty members who can offer guidance, career advice and encouragement.

The Centre for International Experience organizes exchanges at more than 150 universities in 40+ countries around the world.

Explore It!
This program connects you with alumni from the same academic program. You’ll be able to ask questions about your career path and gain insights into working in their field.

FLCs (or flicks)
First-Year Learning Communities match you with 25 students who all study in the same core courses, meet outside of class for fun activities and help each other. Register online beginning in June.

The International Course Modules are an opportunity to incorporate an intensive international experience into an existing undergraduate course.

The First Year Foundations/One Programs are interactive small-group courses that allow you to network with peers and professors and explore a range of compelling issues while earning credit. There are eight distinctive programs to complement your academic interests. Applications required.

The Professional Experience Year is a 12- to 16-month paid internship after second or third year of studies.

In the Research Opportunities Program you earn course credit while working closely with a professor in a research project as early as the summer after first year.

First-Year Seminars
Quirky topics and lively discussions are the hallmark of First-Year Seminars, also called 199s. With a maximum of 24 students, these seminars offer a great way to meet new people and engage in your studies. Register during course selection.