In The Media

A friend told me before I left for university...

By Terry Blaskovits • Schulich Leader at Universit√© Laval
Spring 2013

A friend told me before I left for university in September that for most of the first semester, I would hardly be able to wait before going home for Christmas break, but then after the holiday, I’d just be itching to return to my life at university. That is exactly what happened to me: after a busy and challenging first semester, I was pining to return home, to relax and to be with my family. However, after a couple of weeks of that, I found I was beginning to itch for my university life, my little room in residence, the chance encounters with friends on campus and the constant events and activities which filled my schedule. I was relieved to be back, and I found that by the second semester I had a better idea of what to expect and was better equipped to handle the various challenges of university life. The easiest example of this would be that during the first four months, I had no idea how or what to cook, and it was a constant str uggle to stay well-nourished, but over Christmas, I made a point of cooking often with my parents, learning little tricks here and there and developing a base of a few good recipes. Then, armed with slightly better cooking gear, I marched off into the second semester much more sure of my culinary abilities.

I admit that I had missed my hermetic lifestyle at university, and once I returned, I found that I managed to find a much better balance in the second semester. I continued volunteering at an elementary school and joined a local symphony orchestra. Perhaps the most valuable addition to my semester, however, was that I began visiting residents at a nearby long-term care facility. A friend initially asked me if I was interested, and so we got a list of residents who might want visits, and we set out together and met all sorts of new people. I’ve learned during these visits that young people always seem so interested in talking, but don’t often say much, but on the other hand, it takes a while to have a comfortable conversation with an elderly person who is near-stranger, but once they do start talking, they often have very valuable ideas, wisdom that anyone, of any age, could apply to their life. It’s a pity that so often these people have no one to speak with. One lady I’ve visited on a few occasions is from New Brunswick, so it’s a relief for both of us to have someone with whom we can switch between French and English, depending on the topic of conversation. On a couple of occasions, she’s said to me: “Make the most of your experiences, but be careful also. One day, all you’ll be left with will be your memories, so choose wisely the ones you’ll create”. I took her words to heart, and decided to focus the rest of my semester, and my life here in Québec on finding that sort of moderation, in challenging myself academically, in finding a balance amongst all the things I love doing, and in seeking out experiences that will make for valuable memories.