Hey everyone! My name is Katrina, and this year I’ll be one of your Student Life bloggers for Life @ U of T! Welcome to my first post.
I’m an international student hailing from Hong Kong (which is actually where I’m writing from right now!). It’s one of the most cut-throat, bustling cities in the world (and, arguably, the best – I’m not saying I’m partisan to that fact, but I’m not denying it either). When I first decided I’d be attending U of T, I figured that transitioning to another metropolis wouldn’t be a big deal, and I knew college was the right choice for me.
I genuinely thought I was headed to U of T because I finally had it all figured out. I couldn’t be more naïve and wrong. I spent my first few nights here alone in my dorm in self-pity, away from the rest of my floor, so afraid I wouldn’t fit in that I didn’t even bother trying. I didn’t understand why people wore shoes inside their dorm rooms, or why morning showers were so popular (#cultureshock). I spent the majority of my first week of class sitting alone, just a number amidst the thousands of students who, I was convinced, felt like they belonged to this strange new world more than I did.
Despite the sheer intimidating number of people in Hong Kong, I’ve felt more lost at UofT than I ever did back home.
To say my past two years at U of T have been an absolute rollercoaster of a learning experience would be an understatement (and a cliché). I’ve never been the “que sera, sera”-type, but U of T has made me learn to embrace the unexpected and to let things run their course. My mistake was thinking “que sera, sera” as synonymous to “sit back and do nothing”. Now I understand that what it really means is to make the most with what you have, and the right things will come along at the right time if they’re meant to be.
With the quickest way back to Hong Kong a 15-hour plane ride, I decided to make a home for myself here. I shook my pride and became my outgoing self again during Frosh Week, falling in love with my incredibly supportive and friendly college. I lingered outside dorm rooms longer and longer, which marked the beginning of more than several friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. I even started taking my showers in the morning. I had found my new niche.
I could learn a thing or two about being less of a control freak about my future. (Okay, fine, I could learn a lot about being less of a control freak.)
But I have never been more challenged to push myself mentally, emotionally, socially on both an academic and on a personal level in such a short period of time. Within these two years, I grew out of a childhood dream, hated subjects I thought I’d love, become better aware of my alcohol tolerance level, forced myself to come face to face with exam-induced anxiety, made far too many bad calls in prioritizing with first-year coursework, learnt to cut loose from toxic friendships, did my laundry far less than I should have – and that’s barely skimming the surface. I have grown an exceptional amount, and I don’t expect to stop any time soon.
If you want something bad enough, you’ll make the sacrifices you need to make in order to succeed – and if they’re meant to be, they’ll happen. This was clearly exemplified by Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook, so it must be true.
So trust your instincts in believing that this will be the best time of your life so far. Pursue your dreams, but don’t be disappointed if your goals change, or don’t go exactly according to the way you planned. Work with what you get – and what you’ll get here is a world of opportunity if you’re willing to look, and more than enough chances you’ll need to learn from your mistakes.
Expect your time at U of T to be like nothing you expect, but everything you want to make of it. Make it a good one.