A somewhat unique introduction to university

Fall 2012

Qadeem Salehmohamed

Schulich Leader at University of Alberta

If I were to describe my university experience so far, I would say it has been illuminating. I've learned a lot of new things about this environment and, because I am a Schulich Leader, I have had a somewhat unique introduction to university.

At the start of the semester, the university seemed like a very intimidating place. The professors appeared strict – both in their demeanor and in their marking strategies – expectations were higher, I was surrounded by people that I didn't know, and the institutionalized support systems of high school didn't seem available. The reality of university isn't quite so extreme. In the weeks following the start of term, I realized that my professors – while they were busy people – were friendly and enjoyed student interaction. I grew accustomed to the different expectations and became self sufficient in most matters. My preconception about the lack of support systems was also false. There are several places on campus from where I can get help with homework, studying, or any other problems I may face.

When mid terms came around two weeks ago, I was in my element. If there was one thing I learned from high school, it was how to study well. Because of this, mid terms were much less stressful for me than other students, and I performed well on the examinations.

Living on residence is also a new experience for me. It’s the first time – as it probably is for most people – I am living on my own. I never realized how much work goes into making sure I had clothes to wear and food to eat, and without a car, grocery shopping is the biggest pain ever. Residence is also a great environment for meeting new people, and all the residence activities are a lot of fun. That being said, it is important to know when to opt out of the party and get some work done. I learned the hard way when I was forced to stay up till 5am one night finishing a chemistry lab assignment.

On residence I am also exposed to some of the aspects of student life which, as a Schulich Leader, I am lucky that I don’t have to deal with. It isn't hard to find students who are struggling to pay their tuition, or are having trouble buying textbooks. Seeing all this, reminds me of how lucky I am to be Schulich Leader and have this financial freedom gifted to me.