University of Toronto

COVER : Eat, drink

Rating: NNNNN

Where to hang

On perhaps the most hallowed ground of higher education in this country sits University College Quad. Some of this country’s greatest minds trained here at the birthplace of non-sectarian higher education in Ontario. Perfect place to puff, if you’re into that, or plant a revolution UC, with its Gothic arches and circa-1850s architecture, is the home of Canada’s oldest democratically elected student government.

Want to feel small? You’ve come to the right place. U of T is a massive 68 hectares of prime downtown Toronto real estate. So don’t schedule those cross-campus classes too close together or you can forget about being on time, especially in the winter.

On the plus side, your lateness will go completely unnoticed because, until you hit grad school, you’ll be taught in rooms the size of hockey arenas. There’s a good chance you’ll write at least one exam in U of T’s actual hockey arena.

But being one of over 70,000 students is the price you pay to be educated at Canada’s leading university, a rating agreed upon by nearly everyone except Maclean’s magazine.

Honestly, that anonymity is a good thing. With so many people in such a huge place, no one’s going to remember what an ass you made of yourself during frosh week. You can hide in the humming stacks of Robarts, Canada’s biggest book dungeon, spew pretentious film banter around Innis or say a lonely prayer at St. Mike’s.

There are too many college stereotypes to continue running through them, but variety is on your side.

Are you a communist? There’s a club. Green, red, blue and orange they’re all there. The school’s student union has had a long history of activism. The recent cause célèbre is the fight against rising tuition fees.

Then there’s all the recreational stuff. Perhaps you are a salsaholic? Fear not, Salsaholics Anonymous is ready to help you dance out your addiction. The point is, there’s a lot to distract you from your assignments.

You can even fire guns at the rifle range, if it gets reinstated, in the old clubhouse known as Hart House . If the range remains shut, try switching to archery.

It also doesn’t hurt that you’re walking distance from so much of fun Toronto, like the gastric Russian roulette of ordering a meal in Chinatown, hippie loafing in Kensington, spending your parents money in Yorkville or pretending you and your friends “discovered” the Green Room and Future Bakery.

And the actual campus is one of the most aesthetically pleasing environments in which to burn away a few years. Couldn’t afford Oxford? This is as close as it gets in Toronto. So put on a rugby sweater, find a tree in University College’s or Trinity’s quad and discuss how you will change U.S. foreign policy.

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