I just finished my third year of university on exchange in Sweden. As I pack to return to Canada, I reflect on all the things that have lead me through the past three years. Here are some skills I’m always packing:
When I attended a “Networking made easy” workshop at the career center, I learned that it’s all about being open to make genuine connections, which can be made anywhere, with anyone I meet, not just in professional settings. Now, “networking” isn’t just an intimidating professional term to me.
Despite my hesitation in courses with mandatory group projects, I like that it gives me a chance to learn about others and new perspectives, and learn how to be more cooperative and reliable.
4) public speaking
As much as I’d rather not, public speaking has helped me learn how to orally communicate my ideas whether it be to multiple people or just one. I like to think that not just presentations, but even interviews and simply participating in class are mini public speaking victories. I think I’ll always be a nervous speaker, but the more I practice, the less nervous I look (and eventually feel).
3) taking breaks
Fika is a daily Swedish practice that usually occurs twice a day, and it’s basically a break to drink coffee/tea, and eat a pastry. Now, when I get back to U of T, I’ll have to fit fika into my schedule.
Being grateful helps me to de-stress and make the most of my experiences by appreciating what’s in front of me, like finding a good spot to study in Robarts during exam season, or free food on campus.
1) asking for help
Asking for help showed me a whole network of support and accessible resources at U of T. In my second year, I started seeing a counsellor at my college to cope with my anxiety. This made all the difference for me, because I was finally opening up and learning how to cope with it. I’ve learned to keep asking for help, whether it’s asking for directions from a stranger, or getting clarification from a professor, or finding support for my mental health. And I find that the more I ask for help from others, the more I learn how to be helpful to others too.
*Confidence and independence
I think that every time I practice these skills, I also practice my confidence and independence, by exposing myself to new experiences and learning about myself along the way. Like the first time I tried Boot Camp in Hart House and realized how out of shape I was.
For the past three years, I’ve been leading myself from lectures and studying, to trying new fitness classes, to studying in Sweden, to writing this blog. And as I prepare for my fourth year, I know these skills will come in handy for wherever I lead myself next.