This was the first thought that came to my mind as I watched my family drive off after helping me move into Chestnut Residence around this time last year. Being in a large city, at a university with the population of a town, I had never felt so alone and lost. With the new school year starting, I’m taking some time to reflect on how my first year went. Looking back now, I went through a huge portion of first year, just going through the motions. If I had a chance to do it all over again, here are some of the things I would do differently and what I’ve learned.
1) Your mindset is EVERYTHING!
One thing I have come to better understand is the importance of having a growth mindset. I went through high school being able to balance my extra curricular and academics pretty well but doing that in university is completely different ball game. I remember the first CHM135 test I did, I totally failed it! Not like a close fail like a 49% but an abysmal fail (yup it was that bad). It’s so easy to get into a negative headspace especially when we so easily tie our worth to our academic success. I’ve learned that during moments like these, having positive mindsets and reinforcements is so important to help ensure that you are taking care of your mental well being, so you can prepared for the next challenge.
2) Avoid studying in your dorms
Living at Chestnut means that I am about 20 minutes away from the start of campus and maybe 40 minutes away from the back end of campus. Because of this, I was very reluctant to get out of the building to engage with course work. Especially when I had everything I needed in my dorm. The major downside of this is how easy it is to lose motivation and feel tired, especially when my bed is a step away from me! Instead I take the time to explore the different spots on campus that I can study at or even try study with friends!
3) It’s hard to make friends if you don’t leave your dorm
I feel this is quite self-explanatory but I do think it’s something that is so vital especially when you’re an introvert like me. When it comes to starting or keeping a conversation going, I usually don’t know where to start or what to even talk about and once I get frazzled, I tend to stutter a bit which in return, freaks me out even more! One thing that’s helped me, is to come up with a generic script of what I’d like to say, questions I like to ask etc. I also, try to use open ended questions. For me this helps ease the anxiety and fear of messing up or stumbling on my words.
4) Join clubs for the fun of it!
During my first year, I had treated my club and community involvements as something I needed to check off my to-do list and based on what I thought would look great on a resume. This led me to join clubs and organizations that I had absolutely no interest because I thought it “sounded impressive”. I think it is SUPER important to find clubs you actually enjoy! Whether that’s the Baking Club or a Games club, you do you!
5) When in doubt, get lost!
Not quite literally, but don’t forget you are in Toronto which happens to be one of the most culturally diverse city in the world! I’ll be honest, I was VERY intimidated by the size of the city and was scared to go beyond the campus and my residence. So whether that’s taking the time to find a cute bakery or the best bubble tea place (which in my opinion is The Alley), take the time to learn about the city you’ll be calling your new home for the next few years!
Although these are a collection of things that I’ve learned from my first year, don’t forget that works for one person, may not work for someone else. Take the time to learn what works for you!
Wishing you an AMAZING start to your first semester!!