As I look back at the 2018/2019 schoolyear, the two semesters feel like completely different times in my life. After a summer of living where I grew up—but growing up more than I had imaged, as my parents were away and I had my first office job—coming back to Toronto felt like a fresh start. I moved into a great house with my three best friends and began a new program of study. Other than hauling my furniture up to the third floor in 40-degree heat, third year seemed like it was going to be a breeze.
Obviously, there were roadblocks—not just the construction that blocked us from entering Robarts— but first semester was a time of learning, adjustment and a lot of engaging in fun. Now mid-way through my second semester on exchange in Paris, life is truly a dream (refer to my midway-through-study abroad- post).
So, this is me, speaking to my third-year self in hopes of getting through to some of you.
To stop this from this becoming a diary entry, I thought why not separate what I’ve learned into two categories of school & life, so you refrain from making the same mistakes I did— just kidding, but seriously never eat in the law library.
- Just buy the textbook.
- I know online versions can be tempting, but they’re usually missing pages. My program evaluates students based heavily on textbook reasons, so I learned this lesson the hard way.
- Try taking a class from the program you’d like to be in, before you decide to enroll in it.
- Put more effort into classes for Breadth requirements, but also pick what interests you.
- I took astronomy twice and ended up dropping the classes because I realized I can’t magically make myself good at physics, bio, chem and astrophysics.
- Take a film class, it might change your undergrad.
- Go back to your college.
- I lived in Victoria college first year, although because it’s on the other side of campus I didn’t go back as much. Last semester I made an effort to participate in college life and it reminded me how much I miss it there.
- The U of T Health & Wellness Centre rocks.
- The doctors are so nice and always accommodating. Call to make an appointment.
- Work hard, but value your down time.
- Refer to my piece, “Work-Life Balance on Exchange?”
- If you have an idea for an event on campus, figure out who to team up with & do it. Don’t wait. I spoke about my event in a previous post, “So you want to Plan an Event?
- Watch out for pickpockets when you’re out in Toronto.
- Don’t leave your presto card in your phone case.
- Put all your documents in one place. Be an adult and be accountable.
- Spend money on things that matter.
- I’ve learned a lot about this on exchange, see proof in “How to Live Cheaply on Exchange”.
- Explore Toronto in other ways.
- I brought my bike this year and while it’s currently sitting in the backyard soaked with snow, it was a great way to see more of the city in the fall months.
- Buy a real winter coat!
- After I got rid of my old one I thought I could make do with my fall coat. Bad call.
- Put everything you have into friendships, but know the extent of that relationship. Don’t expect more than you’ll get.
- You will be scared when life changes are on the horizon, but it will always work out.
- I just found a text from my mom the night before I moved to Paris; “Transitions are difficult darling, but they bring us to new things that are wonderful, equally or more so. You will be fine”
- Refer to my first post on exchange “Moving on and Getting over.”
- This leads me to my next point—Thank your family. They care about you more than you know.
- Stop to admire the changing seasons
- Even if it makes you a few minutes late for class.
- Travel. As much as possible.
- Explore student job opportunities.
- That’s how I ended up in this fabulous position! Check the Career Learning Network for opportunities next school year! As you can see, my blog posts serve as a timeline for this year.
Anywho it wouldn’t be a Rachel Cohen blogpost without a little rambling and a little humour, so I hope if you’ve learned anything from my writing over the past year, it’s to not take yourselves too seriously. We only have four short years at U of T (well maybe more, we’ll see), but enjoy it.
Take risks, reach out, say yes, care about what you’re studying, but know when to leave the library.
Au revoir for the last time –Rachel