Hello! Welcome back to the blog where on this edition I reminisce and prescribe some alternative actions for conquering first year. Though I may save you from some of the mistakes I made, I'm sure you'll make your own and learn some fundamental lessons that can only be appreciated in hindsight. To preface, being able to attend post-secondary has been an amazing opportunity I'll forever be grateful for.
I went to university with the very ambitious mindset of, "Lets do it" combined with a, "how bad could it be?" attitude. As far as that goes, I'd say it served me pretty well! Since the thing about university and knowing no one around you is nothing will happen unless you go out and do it for yourself. Overall, I was a nervous mess that regretted the decision to attend university for approximately eight weeks. Literally the longest months of my life that I now characterize as the best and worst moments of first year. (Mainly the best)
Without further ado, here are five things I wish I knew going into first year:
1. (Nearly) Everyone is as Nervous as You
Yes, those other first years may seem to have it completley together- probably because they're good at hiding the panic. In reality, you probably are too and that's why no one really talks about the bubbling stress inside your chest. There may be those who who are ultra confident and aren't thinking twice about their capabilities but I definitely did not find many of those. Everything you're experiencing is brand new, so give yourself a minute to process everything that's happening when you can.
On my first day of classes I got lost, then later walked into my first lecture, filled with 200+ people with a brand new professor that proved to be more nervous than me. I deadass tried transferring out of that class the minute I got back to my dorm. All the other classes were filled, so, I stayed and actually learned to love prof almost-tripping-over-cables-every-lecture. Good times.
2. It's a Competition
I applied to university for business, and got my wishes by being accepted into this competitive faculty. What I wish I'd known is that, at least at SFU Beedie, they grade on a curve and they grade you strictly. Now, you may be thinking, "Aly, you dumbass, of course university would be harder than high school." Yes, I did know that, but I didn't expect a midterm average of 45% to be "Great". Or a final course grade of 60% to somehow equal a B because everyone else just did that bad. It may be easy to get caught up in competing with your peers but remember, it will not kill you to help someone or ask for help. Although, you mostly all want the same outcome: a job and leverage to get that job..... Goodluck, remember you're there for a reason and be kind, it's a tough world.
3. Ask For Help When You Need It
Piggy-backing on that last sentence, university is hard and the difference between being a ball of stress on the floor or a ball of stress still in your chair is asking for help. This one really hits home because I was that ball of stress on the floor for the majority of first term. Rather it be in a group chat with your peers, friends who've taken the class, TA's or your Professor, help is there when you need it. When you're in that tough class, struggling a little bit is healthy and expected. Wanting to die due to excessive overwhelming is another story. (Which is where I usually found myself.) It isn't a sign of weakness or stupidity, asking for help is being wise enough to know where your capabilities end.
4. Go to Events
I walked past countless events in Convocation mall or didn't bother to walk to the AQ from my dorm. I did make it out to Univercity for the street fair- but, nonetheless, I'd encourage you to get out there! If not to get out of your comfort zone, learn something new, or potentially meet a new friend, go because you and your tuition probably paid for it somehow. A lot of the beginning of term events also introduce you to the city your studying in and familiarize you with the campus as well!
One of the fondest memories I have event-wise during first year is playing real life, "Where's Waldo." We lost but after running around campus with new people, doing silly challenges and taking pictures to remember our ever fading youth was something I'm glad I did. Even though I was an anxious ball on the ground, I knew it would be a good experience to start university life. I hope you get to experience something of the same vibe!
Shoutout to Jameela for dipping on me when we were supposed to go to Burnaby Mountain Park.
5. Your Degree Plan Will Change
That first year enrolment date will get you into a lot of the classes you want but along the way you may just find something you didn't know your school offered or discover your major sucks. (I would give that one time though, it may just be the initial shock).Since that first few weeks of classes is the time when your expectations meet reality and you either accept that reality and adapt/overcome or you dip. Either way, you'll get the experience to learn what you want (and some stuff you don't) and discover countless opportunities. Be flexible is basically what I'm trying to say! I'm not saying you'll change your major but, your priorities will most likely change to keep up with who you're becoming.
An extra tidbit I wouldn't of minded knowing is that literally half your class will show up in a sweater and jeans or sweatpants. Be comfy out there in lecture, flex that water bottle and enjoy that snack (quietly).
A "fun" idea I've come across that has stuck with me:
A degree doesn't guarantee you a job and how you handle yourself in school just may be how a potential future job reference will remember you. Not that I did anything crazy but, be wise in your conduct ya'll. (Especially in those team projects- refer back to that whole competition thing.)