I know it’s a bit belated, but I wanted to take the time to look back on my first year at UBC. It’s definitely been quite the journey, and it’s obvious to me that I’ve changed quite a bit since the beginning of the school year. And in my reflection, I’ve picked out a few pointers for those heading into the big scary world known as university. (Protip: it isn’t actually that bad.)
When I first arrived in my Totem dorm room, well, I was terrified. When my parents left the day before classes, I cried, hard. And then I continued crying for about the next week. I was lonely as all get out, and I wanted nothing more than to go home. Oh, I thought UBC was pretty cool – a pretty campus, great teachers, my classes were all really interesting, and I loved my harp teacher – but by the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I literally skipped on my way to class knowing I’d be on a plane later that afternoon.
Fast forward to the end of April, when I choke back tears as I say goodbye to my new friends who I have grown to love so much over the past few months, as I lock my door for the very last time. The girl who wanted nothing more than to leave this place and go back to her familiar world was sad that first year was ending! This brings me to Tip #1: It will get better. You might be lonely at first, but give it time, and you’ll find your place, and you’ll love it.
So what changed that made me feel so much better? Well that to me is a no-brainer: I made friends. That’s not to say I had no friends first term,but the people I talked to I didn’t fully click with, and as a shy person, to really feel comfy I need people around me who really get me and that wasn’t something I found til second term. So how did I make these really awesomely amazing friends? I did fun things with them! Namely entering Totem’s Best Dance Crew. Participating in that one event drew me close to the people I’m now so close with, which brings me to Tip #2: Say yes to stuff. Now, when I say say yes to stuff, I don’t mean say yes to drugs or feel pressured to party; what I mean is, if someone knocks on your door and asks if you wanna go for supper with them, if your only excuse to not go is, “Uh.. nah, I don’t really feel like it, I’d rather sit in my room by myself and eat takeout,” say yes. You’ll get to have a potentially great conversation with them and get to know them better. It could become a routine and then hey, you’ve got your social interaction every day, and it could expand into other activities too. Say yes to rez events (I can’t stress that enough, UBC rez events are so much fun!), say yes to going to get coffee, exploring campus, playing ultimate on sunny days, joining a club, going down to the beach, group study sessions (to be honest, I skipped out on that one – I study way better on my own), just go and do stuff. Sitting alone by yourself is not going to get you anywhere. Literally.
In terms of academics, I didn’t have the shock most people do. I graduated high school with ridiculously high grades (as in like, practically 100%), and my average dropped about ten percent like most students, but I mean, I still have a ninety average I have absolutely nothing to complain about… One thing I have to say is that I have learned an absolutely incredible amount. The academic standard at UBC is top notch, the professors are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and you get the freedom to try a whole bunch of stuff you’ve never even heard of before – I tried German and loved it! Aaaaaand I also tried Philosophy and discovered I never ever want to take another philosophy class ever. But that’s okay! Tip #3: Try out new subject areas – you never know what you’ll fall in love with. And hey, it’s okay to find out you don’t want to do something, too. University gives you the freedom to figure yourself out.
My first year at UBC has opened me up to so many opportunities in so many areas. I’ve gotten to meet a ton of cool people and I’ve come out of my shell a lot, I got to participate in tons of rez events, I picked up yoga, I went to a dance for the first time in my life (seriously), I got to participate in a research focus group (complete with blue chip cookies!), I’ve improved tremendously on the harp, I got to try out playing in an orchestra for the first time, I got to meet one of my all time favourite harp performers, I got to write this blog, I got to see this amazing campus and beautiful BC, I learned to take care of myself and handle responsibilities, and in my future years I intend to take advantage of exchange opportunities and on campus employment. Seriously. There is so much to do and experience, so that’s why my Tip #4 is: Find balance. It’s hard, but it’s important to study hard but also form strong relationships, explore your passions, make the most of your time in Vancouver, and enjoy life.
If I could go back to last September, I would give me a hug and say, “Hey, it’s going to be okay! You’re going to love it!” And I don’t think me from the past would believe it, but it’s true. If you’re an incoming student and you’re scared, I totally understand. Just know that everyone else is freaking out too and it’s only gonna get a whole lot better.