First Year Challenges

Hello! My name is Nastasia and I’m the Academic Success and Equity Blogger this year! I’m new to the Life at U of T blog, but I am super excited to share some tips and tricks in managing the struggles of being a first-year student at U of T.
Photo of Teefy Hall, St. Michael's College
Teefy Hall, one of the many beautiful buildings on West Campus!
If you are reading this post, chances are you're new to U of T! Welcome! In my first blog post of the year, I'm sharing what I learned, what I wish I had learned, and what I wish I had done during my first year. The ultimate aspect of first-year that I struggled with was making time to hang out with my friends while staying academically driven. One opportunity at U of T that I wish I had taken advantage of during my first year was joining a Recognized Study Group. Sometimes it is hard to get help from professors or TAs, but the Recognized Study Groups are a way of getting this help and of making friends with common interests. You can check out to join one, or you can create a new one for any Arts & Science course. If you’re passionate about a cause or activity, another fantastic way to make new friends is to join a club on campus. Having something in common really promotes friendship! If you didn't go to the UTSU Club Carnival during the first week of school, check out This website has a list of campus clubs, and it’s a great way to discover activities that interest you! It's impossible to study all the time, and these extracurriculars help to get rid of stress. It wasn’t until near the end of my first year that I realized the importance of my environment on my work. All my Life Science classes were on the west side of campus, so the other side of campus was foreign territory! But in March, I had a MAT136 midterm at Brennan Hall and thus finally ventured to the other side of Queen’s Park. Despite my calculus midterm being less than an hour away, I felt like all the stress of integration problems had left my mind. I remember the warmth of the afternoon air, being surrounded by the beautiful stone buildings of St. Michael’s and Victoria College. Even though it won't always be spring, a new environment helped me relax despite the stress of my midterm, and I was able to focus on acing my exam. From that point onward, I explored different study spots on that side of campus, and I was able to find my motivation when I couldn't study in my dorm room any more. So for my final tip: when you can't find the focus, look for a new library or study spot on campus (take a look at It's such a beautiful campus, so take some time and check it all out!

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