The Acrobatics of University Life

Summer 2015

Simona Bene Watts

Schulich Leader at McGill University

The way I see it, the life of a university student is a lot like juggling.
This year, I tossed up three balls  (academics, volunteering, and social life) and gave it a whirl. Of course it took some time, but eventually I learned to keep them all up in the air. 
The Academics ball was definitely the heaviest as McGill University is very demanding school. McGill pushes you to truly learn and apply your education. The professors are not only knowledgeable, but truly inspirational. Even in first year, I was able to watch my lecturers’ smiles grow as they approached their particular topic of interest (an example being my physics teacher’s curiosity in superconductors). I felt privileged to share in their excitement. This year not only provided me with a foundational knowledge of science, but also taught me that the “wonder” of science does not fade with age. 
The second ball I had up in the air was my social life. To be entirely honest, having a full course load does not provide you with a lot of time for socializing, but it truly teaches you to value the time you do have.  I am so lucky to have met such inspirational peers, and befriended so many. From my fellow residence dwellers to my biology lab partner everyone has been wonderful.
First semester I thought I would take it easy and just try to find my place in Montreal before tossing up the volunteering ball. That was fine… however by second semester I was DYING to get out and volunteer. I felt as though a vital part of my life was missing. Putting a smile on peoples’ faces is something I truly enjoy, and without that in my life I felt sort of “blah”. Then I started my training with NOVA Montreal as a children’s respite volunteer.
This summer, I travelled to Thailand and Australia broadening my knowledge of the world. Currently, I am back in British Columbia visiting my parents. They live in a very rural community called the North Shuswap. Our local clinic has had a problem finding a doctor over the passed years, however we have recently set up a relationship with a doctor who will see patients via webcam and periodically in person. I am volunteering with him this summer, setting up a program where patients who are housebound can see the doctor in their own house via webcam. 
All in all, this year has been such a wonderful experience and I’ve successfully learned to juggle university life! I am so grateful to Schulich Leaders to be given this opportunity!