Congratulations! You made it!
It’s been 3 years, almost to the day, since I accepted my offer to U of T. Wow, that makes me feel old.
I still remember my dad picking me up from school and handing me the thick envelope. He was grinning, and making me hurry up and open it. I started screaming in the car and then, when I saw a friend who got her acceptance a week before me, rolled down the window and screamed at her. I was a jumble of nerves and since it was the day before my birthday and convocation ceremony (our grads happened before we wrote our diplomas), I was convinced it was a sign. Or at least one of the most exciting birthdays ever.
That said though, it was hard trying to decide which university I was going to in the fall (I got three offers). And once I decided, it was difficult trying to figure what I had to do in order to prepare. I don’t remember many details, but I do remember being worried that I hadn’t done everything I needed to. I was relocating, moving across the country by myself. I do not exaggerate when I say there were six suitcases full of my stuff. My whole family was coming with me to send me off, so, with eight allowable pieces of baggage between the four of us, I stuffed as much as I could into them.
It’s nerve-wracking, but there are some things I was glad I did while preparing to move and start university. Sorry if this seems to be directed to students who are moving here from far away. I swear that every student can take something from of this!
1. Make a list.
Do it early. Over the next two months, the list will grow. Things to remember to bring with you include all your personal ID (health card, SIN card, bank cards etc.) and your teddy bear. Go to your doctor and make sure you have all the prescriptions you need. Better yet, make a note and remember to visit the campus’ Health Services to start your chart while you’re here.
Also list all the deadlines you need to meet. Student loans, course enrollment, tuition payments, and residence registration are very important.
Clubs Day is great, but they don’t show every thing there is on campus. Start looking at clubs you might be interested in now. You don’t even have to email them! Having an idea of where you might want to go is enough to get you started.
Not only does it look great on your resume, being part of a club gives you time off from studying that is spent productively. If you’re not much for “productive” time, then think of it as a chance to make new friends. One of the hardest things for me was meeting new people. I was new to Toronto and grew up in Edmonton, so the pace of the city made it hard for me to form long-lasting friendships. I met some of my closest friends at my club, which I emailed before I even got here.
3. Reach out before you get here.
If you signed up for residence, you’ll be getting your room assignments before you arrive. If you are sharing living space, you might also get your new roommate(s)’ email. Talk to them! I started emailing my roommates before we moved in, and met up beforehand to figure out who was bringing what. It gives you time to get to know each other. It also helps to not have 6 of everything in the dorm.
Before you embark on your U of T journey, ground yourself. It’s exciting, but don’t let that excitement go to your head too much. U of T is tough (Get it? University of Tough?), but with a bit of elbow grease and lots of perspective, it won’t be as bad as the scary upper years make it out to be. Think of us as that one great aunt thrice removed who likes to talk about how hard life was back in the day.
If there’s one thing I want you to remember from this letter, remember this: When even optimism feels dark, remember the excitement you felt when you got your acceptance letter. As the
absolutely gorgeous British boy band The Wanted so aptly put it, some days stay gold forever.
All the best,
P.S. Seasoned UTians reading this, add your thoughts and comments below! You can’t have too much advice.
P.P.S New students, if you’ve got any questions, comment below and I (and our readers) will do our best to help you out!