Challenges plus friendships equals lifelong memories

Spring 2014

Michelle Liu

Schulich Leader at University of Alberta

After finishing my first-year of engineering at the University of Alberta, I can say that the past 8 months have been an eye-opening and captivating experience. For me, I enjoyed my second semester better than the first, likely because I felt that I was more adjusted to the quick pace of university, living in a dormitory, and living in a city, as I come from a rural area. Though the course load was still tough, maybe even more challenging than first semester's, I found that I enjoyed the material taught in the courses more, especially my applied linear algebra course. Having never studied anything about linear algebra beforehand, I found it fascinating to learn about matrices, vector spaces, eigenvectors, and complex numbers. I also enjoyed my second chemistry course, since it expanded and went into greater depth on the material I had learned in high school.

The amount of homework and studying that was required to be successful in the engineering program felt overwhelming at times. With six courses per semester along with the labs and seminars, plus weekly assignments in each class and exams that seemed to occur every other week, a person's morale can take quite a beating. Being organized and staying on top of things helped, but also working with others made this daunting task seem less intimidating. For me, living in residence at Lister Centre provided many opportunities to connect with people who have similar interests or who are in the same discipline as you. I met and became friends with many people who were also in first-year engineering. We formed a study group and worked most evenings together on weekly online assignments, written assignments, or studying for exams. Having a study group allowed us to exchange ideas and help each other with the problems assigned by our professors. The support and respect we gave each other greatly reduced the pressure of the workload and allowed us to form strong friendships that became an important part of my first-year university experience. Memories were created whether we were all stumped on a challenging assignment problem that took hours to figure out or making snowmen outside just to take a break from studying.

I am excited to see what is in store for my second-year of engineering as a Schulich Leader and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead and the friendships to be made.