I always find the anticipation before starting something new to be the scariest part. So, of course, the start of entering university brought on a boat-load of nerves!
My social media was swamped with people telling me you’ll just be a number amongst many. Not exactly what a new student wants to see!
Now, I know everyone’s experience is different, but I found all the negativity online was the total opposite of my experience. In fact, my first year was one of the best years I’ve ever had at school!
On my very first day at U of T, I walked into my class, and there were five students. I thought for sure people were just late, but after ten minutes had passed and class began, I realized this was it. I’m not kidding. This was for one of my joint Visual Studies and Architecture courses, but almost everyone enrolled to take it in the winter semester. It was a crazy fluke that it was so small, but it was just the beginning of seeing that U of T had aspects that I would never have expected prior to my first day. In such a small group, we got to go on field trips, have conversations with our professor, and become close as a class.
I discovered first years also have the opportunity to join One Programs, which are small first-year seminar-type classes meant to help ease first years into university life. Each college offers different first-year seminar courses or One Programs that you can apply to take. I was in the VicOne program at Victoria College (you don’t need to be a Vic student to apply!) in the Jewison stream, which focused on all types of creative arts (creative writing, visual arts, music, etc.). There were only about twenty students in the class, and I got to know everyone, even my professors, who knew me by name, not just by a number. We all put our chairs in a circle and had discussions as a group which was very different from the huge lecture-style classes. We even had a class celebration at the end of the semester. See, U of T’s not so scary after all!
For the Arts & Sci students, your colleges will be your home base and community, but for those of us in smaller faculties, you will surely find a well-connected community there. As a Daniels student, I feel like I am a part of a small school while still receiving the benefits of being at a large university with a vast amount of resources and opportunities. I got to participate in events and clubs both within the faculty and the whole university.
So, I know when you hear there are over 60,000 students, you might feel like you’ll be a tiny fish in a boundless, overwhelming ocean. But, seeking opportunities like One Programs, immersing yourself in your faculty or college, and joining extracurriculars are all things that can make you feel connected to this amazing scholarly community.
Until next time!
Sammi Herlich 🌸☺️
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