Things I’ve Learned in My First Year of University

First year came and flew by in a flash. University really does just come and go – way faster than high school. I remember the university application process, finally making my decision and being both excited and nervous about what the future would hold. I remember how nervous I was the first day I moved out for university. I didn’t know anyone, had no friends, I knew I had to start my social circle all over again. There were two people I did know, but we weren’t close friends. I remember when my family hugged me goodbye, and how lonely I felt the rest of the day without my brother who was constantly talking at home. It was definitely a new experience for me.

Then came frosh week. Waterloo’s frosh week is definitely not the best, I admit, but despite the kinda lame frosh games that we played, I got to meet new people and make new friends. I was grateful to have made some friends at the end. One of my frosh leaders ended up becoming my first boyfriend – how to get a girlfriend 101: become a frosh leader 😛 our relationship got closer from then on. Although all the first years didn’t enjoy doing frosh dances or walking all over campus in 35C temperature, we still got to mingle around and form some new friendships, and that’s what’s really important for university.

After first week flew by in a flash, I came to the realization that yes, school started and I was quickly overwhelmed by the different syllabi that I had for all my classes, and how much each assessment was worth in grades. I was pretty rudely awakened by the fact that of course, university was a much different ballgame than high school and there would be no more mini assessments making up for grades. In most of my classes, there were five big assessments that each took a chunk of my final mark, and yeah that scared the hell out of me, that I would be getting so few chances to score a high GPA.

As I attended school, I tried to get immersed into the new environment quickly. In high school, the teachers take their time to write on a chalkboard and explain things slowly, so that students understand. In university, I had an economics professor who would quickly explain concepts and draw graphs at the same time. For me, alternating between typing on my laptop and drawing graphs on my notebook to keep up with his pace was a bit of a challenge. There were quite a few times where I had to ask friends for notes because I had fallen a bit behind during the lectures. Of course, I was lucky to get a few good professors who kept students interested and learning, but there had to be THOSE professors, whom I tried to not sleep in their class. I will never forget that one political science professor I had whom, each class I nearly fell asleep three times while trying to pay attention to his lectures. At one point, I wondered whether it was worth the time to attend his classes, because I learned nothing and I could have studied more efficiently by just studying the powerpoint slides. Then there was another professor who would just rephrase her powerpoints, so I didn’t have much notes for her class.

Of course, my grades were so-so in my first term, for I had no clue on how to study efficiently in university, or how to efficiently prepare for the exams. I just used my old ways in high school, which definitely didn’t work out. Furthermore, I was confused about why I didn’t enjoy any of my classes. I took economics, political science, sociology, legal studies and an introductory business course, and I didn’t really enjoy any of them.

Then came second term

Since my friends and boyfriend persuaded me to major in English, I ended up taking two English courses in second term. One was Academic Writing, and another was Digital Lives. Although they were pretty work intensive, I ended up doing well in them. I also took three other courses; accounting, business ethics, and topics in criminology. I found accounting to be annoying, for I hate dealing with numbers and I was constantly frustrated with the long assignments I had, but ethics was ok and I enjoyed reading the sociology course. The sociology course ended up to be my worst mark, but at least it was just an elective.

Although this term had a heavier workload than last term, it was more fun and I ended up getting higher marks. With English, I got to write topics I actually enjoyed writing about, which boosted my grades. To my surprise, ethics turned out to be a harder course than accounting due to the nature of the assignments. While accounting was tedious, me and my friends would work in groups to complete the assignments, which made everyone’s lives a lot easier. For ethics, I had to write answers for assignments with a pretty strict word limit. It’s hard to explain your ideas thoroughly for five questions when you’re only given 1000 words.

Although I tried to get more involved on campus during the second term, my workload was pretty demanding. However, I’m glad to say that I was able to hang out with friends sometimes, which went pretty well. I just wish I got to do that more often, for it was usually only once a month.

Overall, I really enjoyed my university experience as I learned a lot and experience a lot of personal growth. However, I can’t say I matured much, because I still have trouble cooking a good meal – aka I hate cooking. I’m a person who isn’t picky about food and I’ll eat pretty much whatever fills me, meaning if someone could cook for me more often, I’d be more than happy. Speaking of which, there were quite a few times this year when I ended up using my last resorts. This included macaroni and peanut butter, and eating spaghetti for two weeks straight – I can totally eat spaghetti for that long. I wouldn’t suggest it though. Lesson is that I need to work more on my cooking skills.

I remember at the beginning of this year, when I was always stressed, having panic attacks and was usually on an emotional roller-coaster. I’m grateful to have had friends by my side supporting me through all the growth I’ve been through this year and I can’t wait to see what next year holds for me. I had so much more fun this year, getting to go out with friends more often, going to a few parties, going to campus events and having a bigger social life. I realized the benefit that university brings is that I don’t have to be around fake friends anymore. In university, there are at least 10x more people than there were in high school, and although I usually sit with the same people, it’s rare in bigger classes to see the same person twice. This way I’m not forced to hang out with people I actually don’t like. This also means that I just have to make a bigger effort to maintain friendships with true friends, which may be challenging, but I like putting in the effort. After all, I get to know who my true friends are.

I ended up declaring my major in honours arbus, honours english, rhetoric, media and professional communications. I also plan to minor in technical writing and specialize in digital arts communications in the future. I’m excited to see what this career path will lead.

Anyways, that’s all I have to say for this time. For the next blog post, I’ll be talking about housing, rentals and other aspects of student life, so stay tuned. Tell me what you learned in your first year of university in the comments below!

Bye!

Jinjin

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