In The Media

Hello Goodbye

By Gurleen Chahal • Schulich Leader at Western University
Spring 2013
Gurleen Chahal

It’s so very strange to think that somewhere beneath the mountains of purple pillows, taped up posters, framed memories, lac operon notes, and crumpled clothing lays nothing more than a blue carpet and a bedframe.

Is that really all this room used to be?

It seems inconceivable—offensive, even—to think of this room as anything but mine. Yet, come 18 days from now, it won’t be.

The mere thought is baffling.

In a way, this room grew alongside me. In the beginning, it was ordered and clean—not a sock unpaired nor a textbook un-shelved. Then the months flew like days, and I became steadily more comfortable with my new surroundings. It wasn’t long before I was discovering missing socks under the bed just as I (my mom) had for 18 years back in Thunder Bay.

Less than 1 hour.

It will take less than 1 hour to deconstruct the home that took months to mold. The changes to the room will be so simple to reverse; nevertheless, the changes to my person will remain permanent.

Every experience I’ve had this year has allowed me to evolve as a person. Working as a Council Commissioner allowed me to take leadership over planning social events hosted in our residence. I learned so much about teamwork and augmented my communication abilities. Acting as residence representative, creating monthly Awareness Booths and fundraising with Doctors without Borders helped open my eyes to current conflicts plaguing the world. Exploring the root causes of these issues inspired me to become an MSF Director—giving me the ability and the confidence to propose my ideas for the upcoming year. Writing and editing for the Scholarly Scoop revealed others’ novel opinions on various topics (propelling my desire to again take on the responsibility of Junior Editor next year). In fact, just walking by the daily booths in the UCC served as a learning experience in itself!

Moreover, I believe that this year has taught me to appreciate and understand the necessity of balance. As important as it is to study, it is also vital to maintain high school friendships, nurture new university friendships, give your family a call once in a while, get enough sleep, talk with your professors about their research experiences (not just the content of an upcoming test), and become actively involved in campus life!

After all, the most memorable moments I have of first year aren’t of a grade or essay— the brightest memories I have are the relationships I’ve built and the moments that defined them. Looking back at first year, it is impossible to forget floor-mates bursting into song months after watching Les Mis, getting ready for Formal while singing along to Taylor Swift and Mariana’s Trench, watching Glee with my roommates (only to be even more entertained by their reactions than the show), and staying up until 4:00AM to lay atop UC Hill and watch meteors dance across the sky.

As cliché as it sounds, the past year has catalyzed my personal growth in ways I never knew were possible. I am so thankful to Western University, the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, and the Seymour Schulich Foundation for their support in my endeavors. The memories I’ve made are priceless and the lessons I’ve learned are innumerable! For those readers who are about to enter first year in the fall, the next tidbit is for you!

LESSONS LEARNED:
1) Procrastination: a choice. DON’T DO IT.

2) Keep a diary. (Yes, male readers, this applies to you as well). Reading your entries and “life-altering” worries months later will be more entertaining than any show on cable. It’ll also remind you that problems pass, and life goes on!

3) Cherish the simple chats you have with the custodian in the elevator or five-minute conversations you have with the person who waits for the same bus as you every morning. You’ll never know the things you’ll learn when you take the time to try!

4) Ask older students for advice. They’ve been there!

5) The library is your friend, not your life. Study hard but don’t forget to relax, have fun, and enjoy every opportunity university presents to you!

6) Don’t plan out your future, but never stop wondering about the future. If you have a spare minute, think about what you love doing. Think about your passions and always be on the lookout for opportunities to embrace them!

18 days from now, I’ll be taking down posters and pictures to reacquaint myself with the same blank wall that welcomed me to Western. The funny thing is, it will represent the exact same thing it did 8 months ago: a sign of a new beginning.

After all, first year may be over, but second year is only one summer away!

*The attached picture shows one of my most eye-opening experiences: helping organize and execute the "Speaker Series" in support of Doctors without Borders (MSF).*