Butter chicken therapy and other lessons from first year

Since coming back to Ontario, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how much I’ve learned, grown, and changed over the past eight months. The high school senior who sat at this very desk last year, stressing about whether she was making the right decision in moving to Vancouver, seems like a complete stranger to me. I wish I could go back and tell myself that everything is going to work out, and that going to UBC will be the best decision I ever made. Here are some other things I wish I’d known going into first year:

  • Leave the books behind sometimes. As important as schoolwork is, no good stories ever begin with, “So this one night, I was studying in the library…”
  • You’re never going to get up for that 8 am class on Thursday mornings. If you’re me, even 9 am is pushing it.
  • Explore Vancouver. You are about to live in one of the best and most beautiful cities in the world. Don’t waste it by sitting around in your dorm room.
  • Never leave your door unlocked unless you want your friends throwing your mattress off the top of the commonsblock (yes, this really happened)
  • Let people surprise you. First impressions can be very, very wrong, and you never know who might end up becoming your lifelong friends once you give them a chance.
  • Every bad day can be remedied by butter chicken night in the Vanier dining hall. Or a Blue Chip cookie. Either one should be effective.
  • Get involved. Cannot stress this one enough. Find something you love and go for it. It’ll take your first year to a whole new level of amazing.
  • Everything will be okay. At least once (and probably much, much more than once), you will feel like a complete and utter failure, but just grit your teeth and remember that everything works out in the end.
  • Make friends with the dining hall staff. They will give you free food, especially in the last few days once your meal plan balance has run out.
  • Don’t wear your housing lanyard around your neck. You basically have a neon sign over your head screaming “I AM A FIRST YEAR”. Probably not the look you’re going for.
  • Embrace the rain. It’s the reason this place is so green and beautiful year-round. Plus, jumping in puddles in your rainboots helps combat exam stress.
  • Go to class, regardless of whether the lecture slides are posted online. This is a big one. There was a direct correlation between my final marks in courses and how often I attended the class. Coincidence? I think not.
  • Deactivate your Facebook during exam time. You’ll thank me later.
  • And last, but certainly not least: remember that you’re only in first year once (YOFYO? Drake ain’t got nothin’ on me) and believe me when I say it’s over way too soon. Enjoy every second.

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