Thursday, February 24, 2011
Reading Week: A Week of Highlights and Free Stuff (!!)
It's only Thursday and I'm already echoing my sentiments from the end of Christmas break: I really really don't want to leave home. Reading Week has been too short. Too short. Too short. What am I going to do when (or if) I leave the country for law school next year? I won't be coming home for Reading Week. The thought boggles my mind.
After an eventful Coach bus ride to Toronto last Friday, spending much of my time making awkward conversation with my student who boarded the same bus I did (you read the right), I arrived in Toronto, lugging my suitcase (carrying all my students' essays for Reading Week marking) and monstrous backpack off the Coach bus, and happily skipped down Dundas Street towards Eaton Centre. Hey, at least I didn't have as many suitcases as the last time I came home, yea? Oh, the relief. I was so happy to be back in Toronto. Alicia met me by the Pickle Barrel and we happily stuffed ourselves for lunch to celebrate the beginning of Reading Week.
As soon as I got home on Friday night, however, I had to go straight to work. Reading Week hasn't been a walk in the park. I've had to work on a major presentation, work on 2 thirty-page papers, trudge through 300 pages of reading, and sit through marking at least 30 essays.
Boo. Oh well. Not even all that work could sour my mood. I'm just glad to be home.
However, Tuesday was a welcome break from all that work. And it was definitely one of the highlights of the week so far. Not only did I get to wander UofT's campus for the first time in a year, it was also a day of arbitrarily being handed free stuff. And everyone loves free stuff, right? Right??
So. Here's the story.
On Tuesday morning, I hopped on the GO train and headed to the University of Toronto campus to meet my officemate Janice. I had to pass along her 50 student essays ready for marking. I hadn't been on UofT's campus since I graduated a year ago, and I can't express on this blog how excited I was to visit campus. I'm a shameless nerd like that.
Because I'm a cheap grad student, I refused to pay $3.00 for the subway and walked to campus from Union Station instead. Oh, how I've missed walking through the P.A.T.H.! Oh, how I've missed walking down Yonge Street! Oh, how I've missed people-watching oblivious Bay Street workers fumbling away on their Crackberries. Oh, how I've missed walking through the city! Oh, how I've missed it all! (Sorry. It's the excitement. I'm really not this cheesy).
Yet walking to the Starbucks at the corner of St. George and College Street, I was a little taken aback. Ordering my usual tea latte, I was told I didn't have to pay for my drink. Bewildered, I glanced around suspiciusly, wondering if someone was pulling my own Starbucks experiment on me. But no, I received a free drink. For absolutely no reason. Awesome.
And so, I studied at Starbucks for awhile. I didn't have to meet Janice until 11:30 am, you see. But I was a little eager to get downtown, so I had arrived at UofT's campus, um, a little too early. After studying for awhile, I stood up, walked to the Starbucks barista to order a second drink. And yet, after I ordered, the barista refused to take my money. I received a free drink again. For absolutely no reason. I have no idea why or how. I couldn't believe my luck.
Free Starbucks drinks? Two of them? What!
So I skipped happily out of Starbucks, walked up St. George Street, and waited for Janice inside Robarts Library, marvelling at the familiarity. I've missed this campus so much. Yet as I sat by the first floor computers, I noticed a curious slip of paper peeking out from under the couch. Leaning over, I gaped in surprise to find a $10 bill.
Free Starbucks drinks? Free money? What!
So Janice and I spent the day studying, eating at a local Thai restaurant, wandering the halls of the Political Science department at Sidney Smith, stopping by the offices of our former professors. It was fantastic to be back, even if it was just for a few hours. I can't even explain how happy I was to see my old department. I spent four incredible years at UofT, and it was an honour to walk through Sidney Smith's 3rd Floor all over again.
Later that evening, sitting at a local Tim Horton's with Alicia and Mishal, I ordered a medium Hot Chocolate (I only ordered a medium so I could Roll Up The Rim) and one peanut butter cookie. When we reached our table, I opened my cookie package and found that I had been given two large cookies instead. An extra cookie? For free? Why? I never get anything for free!
Free Starbucks drinks? Free money? Free cookies? What!
Okay, so the free stuff was awesome. I'll admit it. Especially the free cookies. But beyond all the free stuff, I'm just so glad I had the chance to see my old department again. To wander the halls of my former buildings. To wander the city I love. To take in the familiarity of places I spent four years of my undergraduate experience in. And last but not least, I'm so glad I had the chance to spend parts of my week with friends. With family. With family friends. To drive around my beloved little suburb.
If there's anything Reading Week has taught me (other than the fact that I really enjoy free stuff! Woot!), it's the realization that wherever I'll be next year for law school, I'll miss home terribly. I'm almost certain that I'll be leaving the country in September, leaving home for three years. The thought boggles my mind.
Home is where your heart will always be, friends. Let's all enjoy and appreciate the time we have at home during our visits. The time flies by too fast.
"Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life's undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room."- Harriet Beecher Stowe
“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave,
and grow old wanting to get back to.”
- John Ed Pearce