Thank you, first year.

I can’t believe that this is the last week of my first-year at UofT! Looking back at this year, I realize I have learnt so much about myself. I’ve been challenged academically, physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is also my last blog post for the year. I’ve learnt so much that it’s impossible to write everything down, but here are a few things I’d like to talk about.

There is support.

I think it’s important to know when to seek support and who to ask. I’ve been scavenging for campus resources here and there due to work-study and personal interest, and I’ve found so many of them. It’s crucial to at least know where to find support, because you may not have the cognitive or physical capacity to search for them when you’re struggling. So start early!

Comparison may happen.

Honestly, I’m pretty confident in myself in a lot of ways. But imposter syndrome is so real. In one of my smaller classes, I always get this strong feeling that I’m behind with everything and that I’m not smart enough to be in the class. Over the semester, I’ve learnt to gradually let this go by understanding that everyone has a different interest, and that at least I found out where my strength and passion lie. I mean, I still want to do well in class, but I guess making it obvious that everyone’s different makes me feel better.

I had a meeting with a classmate recently for a project in this course, and we ended up using the time to confess about how we have felt over the year. I found out I’m not the only one playing catch up. So who’s the imposter? Probably everyone.

Comparison can be so mentally draining. It’s okay when it leads to good outcomes, but when it makes you feel bad, I think we have to learn to stop.

Apply to work study.

Thank you to that orientation leader who strongly advocated for work study last summer! I am in a work-study position at Academic Success and it has honestly been one of my highlights as a first-year. Not only am I more involved on campus, I’ve also learnt so much about the University and developed my skills through the position. I also got to witness a lot of the efforts being put into certain events, which makes me more appreciative of what’s going on around campus.

I’ve learnt that work study is competitive, so I suggest at least making your resume early: summer jobs are posted later in April. If you have time, you could also work on writing your cover letter. I remember being so clueless when I was writing my first few ones. Speaking of resources, you might want to check out the Career Exploration & Education website on these topics.

Get a mentor!
I have a mentor from Human Biology Student Union (HBSU) and I’m very grateful for her presence. I have gotten a lot of advice for my courses and real insights in getting involved in research and extracurricular activities. It’s great to have an upper year giving you tips and trick over the year: it’s challenging to figure everything out yourself.

Grades are important, but they’re not everything.

My grades are... all over the place, if I'm being honest. I’m worried, but I’m also hopeful. I know cGPA is important, but at the same time, I know that I have three years to compensate for whatever I have not achieved this semester. I am grateful that I somehow realized what I like and what I don’t like. I finally understand what people meant when they said “You don’t have to figure everything out in high school,” because my plans have changed drastically since the start of first semester. I am more open to different options now and feel like there’s no rush in making a concrete plan.

Lastly, I’m just very grateful that I’ve been able to complete my first year having made a lot of connections and good memories: I feel like a better me. There were days when I questioned why and how I ended up in certain situations, but all these moments will allow me to move forward into my second year. I’m 100% proud of myself (and you!) for finishing this academic year.

If you’ve been reading my blogs, thank you so, so much! I’m grateful for you having read my journey as a first-year student at U of T. I wish everyone all the best, and hope that you continue to find your paths as well.

Good luck with finals, and have an amazing summer <3



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