In grade 11, I went to a meeting where several alumni came in and shared their tips for First Year. I remember furiously trying to write down everything they said to me, and later even copying it down in a notebook I had designated for school searching and making decisions. Flipping through that little book now, it is funny thinking about how their advice stuck with me through University. Here are some of the things that stuck with me.
Do what works for you. When it comes to studying and assignments, pick a place to work that works for you. My roommate and many of my friends couldn’t work in their dorm rooms and always went to the library or a local café. They were constantly trying to drag me out with them, but I always found that I worked best without people around me and preferred to stay in my room to do my work. Always choose the way you are more comfortable with. While University is supposed to be fun and social, you are also there to learn. Make the most of your time by working the way you like best. Trust me, it’s more efficient.
Talk to your tutors and professors. I found my classes to be quite challenging at times. Sometimes you need some help getting ideas together to write a strong essay, or need some help clarifying what to do for an assignment. Just ask. Honestly, the times where I went in to my tutors and asked questions, or just talked about an idea I had, I felt way more confident writing and submitting assignments. It also gives you a chance to start a relationship with you tutors. I loved my main FYP tutor and went in all the time to ask for essay help. In the end, he really got to know my writing style and had great comments and things to say at the end of the year. Having someone who is familiar with your work, and is willing to chat about it helps tremendously. Your Profs want to help you. All you have to do is ask.
Go out on weeknights. Sleep is wonderful. It really is. Sometimes getting up for lecture is hard, and it’s always great waking up and feeling refreshed in the morning. But sometimes it is worth the extra work in the morning knowing that you had a great time the night before. One of my favourite memories I have from this year was the night where my roommate and I decided to go out for poutine at 10:30 at night on a Thursday. We were hyper because we’d just had our dance show, and we decided that we were going to go out in our sweatpants and our stage make up to get poutine in a blizzard. We laughed the entire time, and ended up having an incredible time exploring Halifax. I was a little tired the next morning, but it was totally worth it. Experiences like that are what make University fun. Who says you have to wait for weekends to have an adventure? Make NOW an adventure.
Carry a water bottle everywhere. I bought myself a Camelbak at the beginning of the year and I don’t think there was a day where I left it in my room. I find that in the winter everything seems so dry, especially old lecture halls. In a two hour lecture it’s important to have water by you. It gave me more energy, I had less headaches and I felt more refreshed all day. Keeping hydrated is vital to your overall well-being.
Get involved. During first term I wasn’t really involved with anything outside of my friends and classes. For second term, my roommate dragged me out to the King’s Dance Collective to try out for the show and I am so glad I did! I met a bunch of amazing girls, danced 4 times a week and got to spend time outside of my room doing something I really enjoyed! Whether it’s a sports team, dance team, or even a Zumba class, getting out of your residence bubble is really important. You never know who you’ll meet!
Take time for yourself. With the stress of assignments and all the social and extra-curricular commitments you have it’s important to take a day or even an hour to have me-time. Whether it’s lying down in your bed for ten minutes to clear your head, going for a walk alone, writing in a journal or even watching your favourite TV show on Netflix in your bed on a Friday night, everyone needs time to de-compress and enjoy doing something relaxing. If you’re feeling wound up, stay in on a Saturday night!
These are just a few things that come to mind immediately when I reflect on my year. As the school year approaches, I’ll post some more that I feel helped me get through first year!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?