Before I start, let’s pretend classes started on a Monday and not a Thursday this semester.
My last first day of undergraduate studies started as any other student’s would at UTSG: late and lost. You’d think after 3 years of going here I’d know my way around our campus. I wish I could at least say it was embarrassing that I couldn’t find my class, but I know I wasn’t the only one. Did you know there are classrooms in the basement level of the Earth Sciences building? How do you even get down there? On top of already being late, it took me an extra 10 minutes to realise the lecture room was in the basement level, and another 2 minutes finding stairs that could take me down there.
Besides the small lack of navigational preparation that day, I noticed I came into university with a lot of mental preparation instead. My attitude and spiritual state was much more relaxed – excited even. “It gets better”, I remembered hearing all those upper years say to me in first year. Up until now, I didn’t know if those were just words of consolation or reality.
As with every beginning, we take it upon ourselves to constantly try to do better. That requires more than just planners and checklists. It requires motivation, and motivation requires clarity and a positive mind. This year, just like a lot of us, I had goals too (and a brand-new journal). With just a few required courses left, I figured I could focus on more than just studies now. I know, I know, “When do you even get time for that? It’s your last year, isn’t it more stressful? Shouldn’t you be focusing on your GPA?” Well, I came to two main realisations about that. First was that changes really don’t need to be these big life-altering moves. For me, these were just small steps like preparing home-made lunches ahead of time, scheduling going to the gym between classes, and just engaging more in my courses, clubs, and organizations. I took it upon myself to make the most of my final year as I prepare for the ‘real world’. Secondly, I also realised that I am able to make more time for myself, because by now, I have mastered how to be a pretty good student. Courses don’t intimidate me much anymore. I’ve figured out what works for me, what to focus on, how to prioritize, my studying style, preferred location (Gerstein!), and how to get things done. I got here by: 1. Trial and Error 2. Exploring 3. Accepting failure.
Even though you can have bad beginnings, and trust me I’ve been through them all – everything from awkward social interactions, bad professional experiences, poor grades to personal issues – I managed to make it here. At the end of the day it’s all about getting back up. I learned from failure; I grew through stress; and now it’s the final push forward. It’s true that this all happened as a gradual process with experience, but I’m here writing about this so hopefully you don’t have to wait as long as I did to achieve the calm with the storm that is U of T.
Until next time!