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Q. Should I get a brazilian wax if my boyfriend wants it and I don't?
Answered on July 28th, 2011 A. Yes. Obviously. No. Wait. What?

Ok, let’s start this again. This time, Raj, Jr. will not be doing the talking, I assure you. Let’s break this down, and really it’s quite a simple breakdown: you have a boyfriend. He wants you to get a wax. A Brazilian wax. You do not want the wax. The Brazilian wax. Really, this situation is cut and dry. But I can also see why you’re asking.

Part of a trusted, committed relationship is the sexual relationship - which some may say is the most important part, and if it’s not working, it could damage the entire relationship. And such a relationship is give and take. When it comes to what you both prefer on the other physically, from clothes, to build, to hygiene, it’s something you two have to discuss together. But the one thing you always have to keep in mind is that you need to be comfortable with your decisions.

I’m not talking about having in-depth bedroom chatter about whether you should wear the black skirt or red skirt or whether he should wear the bow-tie or the neck-tie (for the record, not everyone can pull off a bow-tie!). But when it comes to changing something about yourself physically, even if it seems as simple as a waxing session, it’s a part of you. And for whatever reason, you’ve maintained that reality. It is solely up to you whether you change it. He wants it, because for him, it may be a turn on. Which is great! And if you don’t mind going for the wax because you want to turn him on and you don’t mind having it in general, then go for it. There is no shame in a bikini wax, what there is shame in, is doing it to please him when you’re not comfortable doing it.

Always be comfortable, and do what feels right, even if it is safe and what you’re familiar with. Because trust me, there are about a million other things you can do to turn him on, that he won’t be expecting, and that you just may love to do. That’s right. Distract him with your sexual prowess. It always works! Suddenly the words ‘Brazilian wax’ will be miles and miles away (or is that kilometers…?)…

Q. I'm in a long distance relationship and I have no doubt that we're strong enough to withstand the distance and we don't have trust issues...but, how do you keep that 'chemistry' ;) alive - when you only have technology...?
Answered on July 28th, 2011 A. Long distance is tough. It really is, and much like running a marathon, or battling an endless bout of diarrhea, it’s the kind of thing that makes you so frustrated, you wonder how life was before, and why you simply cannot go back to that. Why did you agree to run the race? Why did you eat at that shady Indian place? WHY?!

What you have to remember is that you love each other, and there really is no one else. You have to remind yourself what exactly it is about this person that attracts you. What about this person turns you on at night (or during the day). Because when you say ‘chemistry’, I know exactly what you mean, don’t you worry. And don’t downplay technology when it comes to sex, because if you think about it, prior to the tech boom of whatever decade, all people had to rely on was their own bodies… no toys, no lubricants (well, not the fun kind), no apps. The horror!

Yes, there is sexting, and yes there is the whole ‘show me yours, I’ll show you mine’ over Skype just to be reminded of what the goods look like. But to really keep that X factor thriving when you can’t physically touch each other, you have to explore and you have to step it up a notch from wherever you are now.

One thing I would recommend is surprise trips to actually see each other, and make the trip brief every once in a while. Make it your goal whenever you see each other during the long distance term, to have sex in a place you haven’t before, or in positions you haven’t tried before. When you actually are apart, you should be following fairly similar rules. And I don’t mean drag your iPad to the middle of the woods for a unique sexual experience (well, maybe). Try talking dirty or using items you haven’t tried before (because oh wow, is there a whole world outside of the average vibrator). And alas, there are endless Internet gadgets you can find online for just this purpose.

For example, when he’s got the Interactive Fleshlight, and she’s got an adjoining vibrator, once he starts using it, she’ll start feeling it - wherever you are. And here’s a fun one: the vibrator app for iPhones. Check it out. And bring your sanitizer with you.

It’s a challenge, hell yes, but that should make it all the more fun, and hopefully motivate you to take the relationship further and perhaps even develop a deeper intimacy than you ever expected. Everyone has something they want to try, so don’t be afraid to give it a go. Your partner will be thrilled you even considered it.

Q. Hi Raj! It’s almost summer break, and I’m wondering: summer vacation or full-time summer job?
Answered on April 29th, 2011 A. Follow-up, guys, I need more information! What kind of financial situation are we looking at? Sticky, mild, stuck? In how much of a need are we for a tan? Not much, mediocre, extreme? It’s really about the details, I am disappointed!

…Ok, Serious Raj time! Decisions, decisions! What it comes down to is what you need and what you want and what you deserve. Sounds simple enough, right? As a university student, you are probably severely in debt (or the parental units are), either that, or you just need a quick and easy way to pay for that Vogue or 6-pack-of-Coke diet. And no, I am not recommending prostitution, not at a time like this (maybe later…).

If you’re finding yourself in a financial jam or just need a consistent cash source, it would definitely be a good idea to keep that summer job or find one. A consistent job should always be your plan if you’re supporting yourself. However, if you’ve managed to save up during the year, going part-time is probably a good enough route for you (don’t pressure yourself, it is the summer!). If you haven’t saved or you’d like to save up for the next couple of terms, then maybe full-time is your go-to.

Even if you’re not the working type, I strongly recommend getting a job in any case. It’s a great way to develop your social skills (particularly for once you graduate, and start going career hunting…I know, I know, don’t use big words Raj!), and get yourself used to a consistent work routine.

As for vacation, should you take one? Hell yes. Do you need one? Most likely. Can you take one? Of course! If you’ve been killing it (or faking it) for the past few semesters, it’s time to give yourself a break. Enjoy the sun and the girls in summer dresses (or boys in Speedos, whatever’s your taste)! If you’re pulling a part-time job, you’re good to go for mini-vacations throughout the summer, which is pretty ideal, for me personally. Then grab a week off mid-way or by the end of your break for a hardcore trip.

If you’re working at a full-time job (Good for you! Don’t let your non-working friends get you down! You are a champion!), when it comes to vacation, you can rely on a couple of weeks off here or there or by the end of your summer to relax. And make sure you unwind each night - and particularly OWN Friday/Saturday nights (I’m talkin’ club nights, road trips, etc.)!

My point? To borrow words from Mr. Gunn, make it work! You can do it! Clearly, you know what your priorities are, if not, figure them out. Just remember: all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…

Q. How young is too young to get married?
Answered on April 29th, 2011 A. I’ve been waiting for this question. …Ok, I haven’t, but let’s just say, it’s plenty timely. Summer’s abuzz, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a couple of friends all set to get hitched, and they’re in the 20-22 age bracket. I know another few who’ve already done the deed, and are super happy (as far as I know…). But, as an undergrad student (or grad, I ain’t discriminatin’), how young is too young?

Hm. I’ve always been the ‘Hey! They’re happy, they’re in love, let ‘em do what they want!’ variety. But now that this has actually become a reality around me, and not just a comment on the odd celebrity, I’m not too sure I’m entirely cool with it. When friends of mine coyly tell me they’ve got, not just a promise ring from their guy, but a hardcore promise, I find myself a little weary. And then there’s the odd guy (ok, more than odd) who falls head over heels, dramatically in love with a chick after only a month of dating - and he tells me he’s ready to get down on one knee.

At our age, you’ve got to be sure when you say you’re in love, and that you’re not seeing through rose-coloured (or LSD-tinted) glasses. Love is great, love is fantastic, but just because you’re in love, doesn’t mean you’ve got to rush to the altar.

Reasons NOT to get married: to keep your boy/girl on lockdown, the glory of the good ole joint account, a pretty ring on your finger, the chic and tragic rebellion of marrying young, and of course, my personal favourite, covering up the odd pregnancy (this isn’t the 1950s anymore, guys!).

Reasons to get married: you love each other, and you want to be together forever, and you’ve planned it out (what do your futures look like together?), and you know what you’re doing, and you’re being rational. A lot of ANDs, eh?

I think marriage is a great thing, and love is the greatest thing to ever exist (I mean, you know…ahem), but marriage is (should be) a significant moment in your life. It IS a big deal, and it means a lot. Be absolutely sure you’re ready to make that kind of a commitment to someone. So whenever you feel is the right time, do it for the right reasons, be happy, and be nice to each other. Easy enough advice to follow, right?

Q. I'm a girl, and I've always found it super difficult to make guy friends. I'm pretty sure it's mostly because I'm shy, and a lot of that stems from my fear of them thinking I'm “hitting on" them. Anyways, I was wondering if you could shine a light on a guy’s perspective in terms of what guys think about when a girl tries to be their "friend". Are guys super judgmental? Any tips for me?
Answered on March 26th, 2011 A. Excellent question! However crazy and ridiculous you think you may seem by simply saying “hi”, you totally don’t—not to us anyway. And by “us”, I mean the often blind, for all intents and purposes, group of guys who like girls more than they realize. I totally get that it’s hard to make guy friends. But the thing you have to keep in mind is that it’s not as serious business for us as it is for girls. We really are laidback and chill about it. If we’ve had a few classes together, been stuck together in line at Tim’s a few times, or even if we’ve never seen each other before, just walk over, and say hi – it’s as simple as that!

Though I would start off with a conversation starter - Nice sweater vest! I hope there’s still a triple chocolate cookie left by the time I get to the front! Were you just in my Sociology class? You get the idea; it’s less invasive and sudden. Go from there and 90% of the time a conversation will be had, and if the dude bites and you feel a bit of chemistry, you’ve got your “in”, which means the next time you see him, definitely say hi and throw in a follow-up question. Next thing you know, you guys will be study buddies, grabbing lunch together after class, or catching a movie next week. It really is that easy, because guys don’t sweat it—we’re not gonna wonder if you have ulterior motives, we’ll just love the fact that we’ve met a girl who likes what we do (which, by the way, is the major hook in becoming fast friends).

Basically: guys are not super judgmental, far from it! If anything, we think of you as one of our regular guy friends, as more of a sister even. One other thing, and this is from my own pitiful personal experience, us guys almost never get the hint, even if you are flirting the first time around. We’re just clueless that way. So if that’s not even your intention, we won’t be making that assumption. And if we are—we must be a narcissistic douche bag (statistics show, that is).

Q. How can I keep a long term relationship going, for real?
Answered on March 25th, 2011 A. Isn’t this a loaded gun of a question?! Jeez guys, take it easy. Kidding, kidding. While this is a fairly big question, I think I just may be able to help you. My girlfriend and I have been going steady (old schoolin’ it) for 3 years now, which I do believe is long-term. Although nowadays, uni relationships often don’t last longer than 3 months. So if you’ve crossed that hell of a Jack Bauer-clad barrier, congratulations!

Now, how do you stay there? Honestly, and as cheesy as this sounds, you’ve really got to have something for each other - a real deep connection (don’t get filthy on me guys, not at this hour!). Love yes, but you’ve got to be friends first. Enjoy each other’s company, make each other laugh.

I think we’ve all heard of the supposed horror that is marriage, but that’s not anything different than a steady long-term relationship. The key is to see each other on a steady basis—not necessarily every day. In fact, and I may be in the minority here, but it’s good to have a day or two in the week when you don’t talk to or see each other—it keeps things healthy. When you reunite the next day, you’ll feel a swelling in your heart that manifests in some cheesy handholding that you actually kinda like.

Another important rule: don’t bore each other. Frankly, if you keep this in mind, you may get frantic. But the point is, you’re young - don’t age yourself. Do something each month you’ve never done before. Go see a movie every week, have dinner with all of your friends every few nights. Do a variety of things - don’t limit yourself to dinner and a movie, and don’t isolate yourselves, be with your friends. And yes, this does cross over into your sex lives - be creative, try new things, in new places, *wink wink*

And here’s a tough one for the guys: talk. Talk often! Take long walks on the boardwalk, through the park, to Pizza Pizza for god’s sake, and just talk. Tell your girl/boy even the tiniest thing that bothered you or that you loved, or whatever insignificant detail about your life. Share opinions, share your dream from last night, swap mix-tapes, take road trips (hell, just go to Ajax or Whitby, doesn’t matter!), exchange cheesy love letters, cook dinner together even if neither of you can make toast without burning a full loaf through.

So key points: have conversation, make each other laugh, and most importantly, have FUN together. Students tend to forget this in between midterms and work, and the next thing you know you’re alone on a Friday night, or feeling like an aged grandfather. Work and play really do mutually benefit from a good balance. You’ll be so much happier.

Q. So. I have this friend, and he can be quite homophobic at times, which I hate. However, I’m also pretty certain he’s gay himself, but can’t admit it to himself. What should I do? Should I tell him what I think?
Answered on February 28th, 2011 A. Now this is a great question, and right off the bat, I have to say, you’re a great friend, don’t start thinking you’re not. It can be very difficult being caught in a situation like this, and it’s especially hard to know what the right thing to do is.

My best suggestion is to simply be there for him. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, and you’re probably thinking, “Well dammit, Raj! I was already doing that!” Yes, but you also can’t force someone to be who you think they are, especially when it comes to their sexuality. If he is indeed gay, he’ll come out when he’s ready. What he needs from you, is a supportive friend who will stick by him when that time comes. Not to mention, you may also be wrong. Some people can be unsure about their sexuality - maybe they don’t have a label for it, don’t pressure them! Give him space, let him take his time and discover who he is on his own. Keep doing what you’re doing - be friends, hang out, have fun.

As for the homophobia, I can tell you, I’ve seen some of my friends have to deal with that firsthand, and let’s be honest, nothing is a bigger pain in the ass than a homophobe. Be sure to address this with him. Let him know that you’re uncomfortable with what he’s saying or expressing and that you don’t agree with it. Sometimes people say things because it’s the popular thing to say, or they just haven’t formed their own opinion yet. Tell him how you feel and why it’s wrong to discriminate. This is no easy situation, but it is his. Be honest and comforting; be a friend. As always, if you need to talk this through, shoot me an email, I’ve always got a ton more to say and I’m happy to help!

Q. Where can I find a stellar man like you?
Answered on February 28th, 2011 A. Ah gee, ladies, (gentlemen?), you make me blush! This is where I re-direct you to my email, ahem - utscmaskraj [at] gmail.com. The Girlfriend is not going to enjoy this week’s questions, I’ll tell you that much…

But alas! While I, Raj, may well be Mr. UTSC 2011, there are far more deserving men crawling around our humble little campus (single men, might I add). All that stands between you and I, Sweet Sweet Question-Asker, is a computer screen and a nasty pile of text, which could be disguising a truly hideous, overweight man with a large hairy mole under his chin and last week’s pizza nearby. My point? I could be anyone. Must I give all you lovelies an Internet safety lecture? I thought not. That being said, I assure you, I am not a hideous man hiding behind my computer screen, but in fact the ever-handsome Rajesh, in my Transformers pajamas, slumped in my recliner, waiting for the pizza delivery guy (Sexy? I thought so.)

So, you ask, where the hell are these men you speak of? Men indeed, boys are merely underage, I say. Start cruising St. George parties here and there, stop by some Scarborough pubs around campus, head out to some of the more major UTSC events, and stalk study spaces. You’ll soon catch the eye of a lone brown-eyed cutie, the one who always sits by the draft in the Science Wing. It’s midterm season guys, this means you’ll see regulars at Tim’s and the library—stake out your boys, lay your claims, and get flirting! My best tip: the closer to the front you sit in your lecture, the more outgoing and friendly the boys will be, the closer to the back, the more quiet and mysterious (or obnoxious) they shall be; take heed!

Hmm. I may be sending out the wrong message here… but life is short, get your flirt on!

Q. What's 3g?
Answered on February 28th, 2011 A. Not, in fact, a dirty threesome with three lovely girls, nor the three greasy gangsters you met in an alleyway in Vaughan last week. Let’s be honest with each other. You've probably heard of 3G in relation to the iPhone 3G or you've seen the little 3G icon on your own phone (Yes, it does mean something, it is not a little smudge in the corner of your screen!). This means your phone is 3G compatible! Awesome, now what the hell does that mean?

Basically—time for me to get all techno-geek on you—3G stands for third generation and refers to the third generation of wireless technologies. Compared to previous generations, 3G allows for higher data speeds (for your phone's browser, apps, etc), better streaming (YouTube! Vimeo! Megaporn!), and video conferencing.

To use 3G, you need a mobile phone that’s compatible (most current phones, particularly smart phones are) and a data plan with your wireless provider (You know, like Rogers? My God and savior, and yet Satan, all at once.).

But really guys, 3G is old news now. Look out for 4G (Or as my buddies and I call it, FOUR GIRLS!)! Some networks in the US have already rolled it out in some areas and Canadian providers (Rogers, Bell and Telus) are also working towards testing or rolling out a 4G broadband network (We do always get sloppy seconds, don’t we?), which means faster data transfer, and is another awesome reason to surf the interwebs on your cell—sounds delicious to me!

Q. RAJ. I can’t seem to be able to get up for my lectures anymore! I’m always so damn tired, and then I don’t bother. It’s like a sickness. What the hell do I do?
Answered on February 10th, 2011 A. Well son, let me put my spectacles on. Ok. First of all, this is a common problem for those in the upper years, *cough cough*. You’ve become jaded, i.e. tired, “over it”, you’d like to move on and get that job at Price Chopper you’ve been hoping for… Ok, I kid. But really, it’s nothing to freak out about. Fortunately, you’re realizing you have a problem early in the term, so there’s time to resolve this. Invest in an alarm clock that does not grate your ears! Get a little bit of Aguilera going in the mornings, and you’ll be as high-strung as you need to be.

Next, evaluate whether these lectures you’re missing are miss-able, i.e. does the Prof read right off the lecture slides? If so, perhaps you’re okay to miss them once in a while. But then, maybe that’s not your learning style. Be sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before, which I know, sounds like the pediatrician talking, but it helps! A nice hearty dinner the night before, a fresh breakfast with some strong tea/coffee in the morning, and you’re good to go! Make sure you’ve got a study buddy in this class, by the way, so for those days when you do miss class, you’re covered (this should be a give and take relationship, by the way!).

The reason you can’t drag your ass out of bed is that your body is tired in every way possible. Make sure you’re eating right, sleeping enough, getting some physical activity in (even if it’s a little bit of a walk to the Management Building), and finally, getting some mental stimulation - whether that be a bit of homework, some reading, or even a wee bit of pornography once in a while (ahem, or whatever’s your pace). Have a full day, so that by the time a decent hour rolls around, you’re all knocked out. The next thing you know, your sweet little alarm buzzes, and you find yourself—hey! Surprisingly awake! And P.S.: give yourself an extra half hour or so in the mornings, so you can sleep in a bit, if need be. Good luck!

Q. Hi Raj! School has made me anti-social and I feel lonely sometimes. This fact is about to be compounded by the dreaded V-Day (which for a single girl is the worst, trust me!). So, how do I meet someone before the 14th? Or if I can't, how do I survive the loneliest day for singles?
Answered on February 9th, 2011 A. Valentine’s Day may just be Satanic. I don’t think I’ve ever met a single person, who at some point in time, wasn’t single on Valentine’s Day—and bitching about it. I’ve had my fair share of single V-Days, and you know what? They’ve never mattered! So really, I was born to answer this question. Essentially, you should be having so much fun on the 14th that you don’t even realize what day it is (although, by asking this question, I suppose that’s useless advice…). I’ve heard of all those Anti-V-Day events happening in the city, and quite frankly, don’t bother. The best way to not feel lonely and heartbroken on V-Day, is to not be lonely and heartbroken. Get your friends together, stay in (to avoid the couples littering the streets), have a horror/action movie marathon (anything without a significant romance), order pizza, get hammered, and you’re good to go! The essential point? Do not be alone. When you’re alone, your mind wanders. You begin to fantasize about who you could be with, maybe even your ex, god forbid (why so desperate?), and the next thing you know, you’ve downed that entire box of chocolates (although, a bottle of wine never hurts).

As for hunting down a beau for the day, in a week’s time, well… I would say, don’t bother, because really, you’ll only further frustrate your single self. But, if you are desperate, you can always go out for a club night with the girls/guys and find someone between that one night stand with the lip ring and that guy who’s been ordering you appletinis all night (the gall!). Another option: have your friends set you up! This is especially ideal for a V-Party (You like that? It’s getting all True Blood up in here!). There’s one thing you can be sure of—there are always other singles crawling around, probably more so than couples, and they are most likely also hunting for a lady for the day. Worst comes to worst, your set-up is horrific. Ditch the dude, and go hunting on Valentine’s night. If anything, it’ll be a night to remember!

Q. Valentine's Day is coming up and I don't have a romantic bone in my body- help! (P.S. I'm a guy)
Answered on January 17th, 2011 A. Well right off the bat, I’ve got to applaud you dude, you’re already thinking ahead-waaaay ahead, which is never a bad thing. As guys, we’ve got quite the expectations to live up to for our girls, don’t we? And it is well deserved, correct? Nod your heads, yes.

Let’s establish something first, Valentine’s Day is romance. Many men are quite unromantic, however a good proportion of men believe they’re not romantics, even though they are. Sure you didn’t cry during Titanic or The Notebook, and no, you never took her to a candlelit seaside picnic, so what? If the thought of her makes you gush inside, and when you look at her, you think, “Damn, she loves me?!”, then you’re good. What you need to remember is that most girls like a little something on the dreaded V-Day, even if they say they don’t (most of the time, they’ve been scorned by bad V-Days). Don’t fall prey to the old “Let’s not get each other gifts this year” adage - just get her a little something anyway. The usuals will always work: chocolate, candy, lingerie, roses. But try to be a little creative. On your date take her to the first place you met, or where you had your first date. Have dinner at her favourite place, take her on a carriage ride through the city, go away for the weekend, and cook her dinner! The point is to show some effort; show her that you really did think about the special day, and more importantly, her. Don’t be selfish—this day is about her (but that doesn’t mean you can skip shaving and showering that week—show her the goods!).

Being romantic is not a skill, guys. It’s just showing that you love your girl, which may sound difficult, but honestly—it really isn’t. Pay attention to what she likes now, and surprise her on the 14th. Your goal? Have a super awesome day together. And to be quite frank, if you succeed, you will be both be rewarded at the end of the night, ;)

Q. UTSC or UTM or UTSG? Give us the real scoop, Raj!
Answered on January 17th, 2011 A. I see you trying to make me choose, and I…well I won’t bite! Quite frankly, being a UTSC-er if you will, I do not necessarily find it The Greatest Campus Of All Time. Much like the majority of UTSC-ers, I don’t exactly have the most school spirit (although more than the average student, I assure you). So let’s break it down, shall we? UTSC is small, parts of it are cold, parts of it are much like the tropics, the food selection is, well, horrid, and with such minimal school spirit, there’s not always much to do when you just want to be a college kid and have some fun. That being said, UTSC also has the greatest profs—I’ve taken my fair share of classes at UTSG, and while those guys are amazing, I will always be immensely biased for my student-teacher relationships (all academically consensual, thank you for asking!) in Scarborough. They’ve got a lot to say, they’re passionate, and a good chunk just seem to genuinely care—which is the dividing line between a good teacher and a bad teacher. UTSC has also got a few unique programs, like Journalism and the newly birthed Mental Health program. And of course, I can’t go without mentioning co-op, which seems to be the ultimate academic distinction between campuses. Yes, co-op is quite something—what is it? Essentially work placement, which can find you a paying internship in the field of your choice, while you’re still completing your undergrad—always a plus!

St. George, St. George, St. George. What can I say? I’ve taken several classes here, a ton of my friends go here, and the campus is more beautiful than any woman (making out under a Victorian arch never felt so good!), and last but not least, I met my girlfriend here. So you could say, our own relationship is a microcosm of the battle of the campuses, though really, we’ve never argued over that (had a spat, more like). St. George has an endless course listing, amazing profs as well, a wide variety of students, and a ton of geography (but good luck trekking between classes in the winter, not to mention commuting downtown), the social scene is, dare I say it, fabulous, and catching a varsity game every once in a while with the guys is really the essence of uni life. Not to mention, the lively Greek life, which often goes unnoticed down here, including the occasional secret society or two (you didn’t hear it from me!).

As for UTM, it really is the fated middle child of all the campuses; we never do seem to hear of it, do we? Almost as if it doesn’t exist… How curious! But I assure you, it does! One of their standouts is the beautiful MiST theatre, the industrial competitor to Hart House’s gothic. The students might be the nicest of all the campuses, though the size and spirit don’t seem too far from Scarborough’s. With a lauded theatre and drama program with Sheridan College (much like UTSC’s Journalism program with Centennial), and the Forensic Science Institute, UTM is not one to be underestimated.

While UTSG seems to be the standout in this analysis, I really can’t tell you which is the “best” campus. Everyone is suited to something different. If you’re a quiet introvert/misanthrope, UTM or UTSC may be more your cup of tea. If you’re brash and socially active, then UTSG may just be your scene. Another factor is what you plan to study. Each campus has its own special academic features, and I strongly recommend doing a bit of research before choosing your campus. Most importantly, you need to remember it’s you who makes the college experience an experience. If life’s a party for you, it damn well will be. If it’s one long Shakespearean drama, than let it be! The campus is irrelevant when it really comes down to it. That being said, choose accordingly. What’s right for Raj, may be wrong for you, so be sure to visit each campus as well before deciding. Good luck!

Q. So, I really need some ref. letters this year, I’ve got to start my grad apps this summer, but none of my profs even know who I am. How am I supposed to talk to them?!
Answered on March 6th, 2011 A. Delicious question! If you’re a student, and you find yourself suddenly in need of reference letters, maybe some advice, or just a general question about the class, it’s always important to know you can go up to your prof and not get your head bitten off.

Although it’s true that some profs do want to get out of class as soon as they can (or that they just find all students to be a bother), I’ve had my fair share of student-teacher bonding (get your mind out of the gutter!), and the number of cruel profs is pretty damn low, almost infinitesimal at UTSC. It’s a lot like a celebrity complex—you begin to idolize your prof, they’re smart, they’re insightful, witty, maybe even real darn attractive—but when you email them a question or try and talk to them, you find yourself with a lackluster, minimal response or you feel brushed off. Yeah, maybe they’re not the hero you thought they were, but a lot of the time they’re just ridiculously busy with research and other students.

So when approaching a prof, know your stuff. Make sure you understand the material to the best of your ability, have your questions ready, and be polite, but also just be nice—they’re not out for blood and hopefully, neither are you. More often than not, you’ll find them extremely receptive, and even thrilled you’re asking them questions, or interested in having a conversation. Most profs love student interaction, and will take an instant liking to you. If you’re looking for ref letters, spend the term going out of your way to ask them questions about the course material, engage them. Even if you don’t have an actual question, just get a discussion going, or even just tell them how much you love the class. Speaking of which, if it’s letters you’re looking for, it’s always best to go to the classes you love most, or you’re doing the best in, for the most receptive and intriguing answers.

By the end of the term, when you do ask for a letter, you’ll find that to be the easiest question you’ll have for them. And, you’ll have found someone who may not only be a great mentor, but someone to provide you with advice and insight. Just remember: professors are there to answer your questions. There’s never any need to feel embarrassed, especially because if you do feel like you’ve screwed up, you’ll only be one of hundreds of students they see every day—comforting, isn’t it? For more advice on this, always feel free to shoot me an email!

Q. Hi Raj. It’s the New Year, and my goal—as usual—is to lose those Freshman 15. How do I do it? Help!
Answered on January 17th, 2011 A. Happy New Year, kids! What a way to start off the year. I mean, let’s face it, this is THE new year’s resolution of them all, isn’t it?

So what did I do to become the lean, mean Raj Machine (ahem…)? Really, and this is going to sound corny enough, it takes motivation. You’ve already made it your resolution, but chances are, it’s been your resolution for the past five years—this time you’ve got to mean it. And you’ve got the entire year ahead of you. It’s time to plan—no five year plans, no six month plans; just sit down, and plan out the next week, maybe even the next month. Figure out what sort of workout routine you and your body are comfortable with, because let’s face it, you may be a five foot tall French fry lover who hasn’t seen the light of day, much less a goddamn treadmill, since mandatory gym classes in high school! Forget all the designer diet plans—most of them are bullshit, and in the end you’ll find yourself gaining all the weight back within a few days (water weight is a demon, I know). Cut out all the pop and beer—this may be the toughest, you may shed a tear, and a night of mourning over some crushed cans may be warranted. No more desserts, no more stops for cookies, cakes or donuts—Tim Horton’s is now simply part of the landscape for you. Start walking for about a half hour every day, bring your friends, bring your music—it’s as easy as that! And you don’t need to get a hundred dollar gym membership either—go biking, hiking, walking, running, swimming, lift a few weights, maybe start saving for an elliptical now, or whatever works for you.

The point is to start small and work your way up. You’ve got a year, and results will show slowly, but the best thing about this plan? You’ll feel better. Forget looking better, you’ll suddenly find yourself able to breathe and not exhaust a lung once you’ve reached the the top of the stairs in the science wing. Slow and steady, my friends, slow and steady.