The First Semester is Over

Winter 2016/2017

Haleema Khan

Schulich Leader at University of Toronto

Exciting, challenging, and rewarding, are all suitable words to describe the past four months. The GO Train inspires my creative thoughts to wander – proving to be a great place to write Schulich blog posts. The first semester of university has just wrapped up and I am finally on my way home to Niagara Falls (as I'm writing this post actually)! I have experienced a lot this semester –  some struggles, some successes, and a lot of learning curves. Through all of this, I have seen a lot of self-growth.
 
Toronto is an amazing city; it is impossible to be bored here. I try to take some time out of the busy university routine to explore the hidden gems in this city. I think the fast-paced environment is absolutely energizing, reinforcing my productivity on a day to day basis. One of the reasons why I chose this school was because of the location – I needed a change in my setting, and it has shown to be a great change thus far. 
 
I have met some amazing people at the University of Toronto, seven of which are featured in the photo above. I am lucky to go to a school with so much diversity. I think I have made friends from almost every continent in the world (Antarctica is a tough one to cross off the list though). It's so fascinating to hear stories about my friends’ cultures and traditions – it’s almost as great as actually traveling to the places they’re from. Also, the professors here are incredible; in contrast to the common myth of U of T profs, they actually take the time to help students and are super approachable! I have had the privilege of getting to know some of my professors on a more personal level by seeking extra help and guidance during office hours. 
 
Transitioning from the smallest high school in Niagara Falls to the largest university in Canada is a big change. Academically, the university life has been a huge challenge, but a positive challenge nonetheless. Unfortunately, I think challenge is perceived in a negative way, when in fact it IS OFTEN POSITIVE. I think after all of hurdles I face here I will come out as a student with many qualifications, who will have learned and grown from my mistakes and failures. I faced a similar challenge in grade 9, but eventually overcame this challenge by grades 11 and 12. The high school routine became familiar, things became easy, and I needed a change, a new obstacle to face. This is why I chose U of T’s Life Science program. As my philosophy professor says, "Think of the pain as spice". The spice is definitely not mild here; it is the Frank's RedHot XTRA hot sauce. But spice is good, it keeps things interesting and progressing.
 
My train ride is nearly over. I want to end on a final note; I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to go to the University of Toronto with the support of the Schulich Foundation. Sometimes as I am walking back from a lecture to my residence building, I get a glance of the CN Tower and think, "how did I get so lucky to go here?" Thank you to the Schulich Foundation for this amazing opportunity, and to the University of Toronto for pushing me to my limit every day.