Introduction to the Universe
By Emily Pass • Schulich Leader at University of Waterloo
It’s hard for me to believe, but my first year in Physics and Astronomy at Waterloo is now complete. While first term in any science program anywhere is essentially the same, this semester saw my program beginning to zero in on concepts that are going to make up the heart of my degree through two courses: Modern Physics and Introduction to the Universe.
At the end of April, one by one my roommates packed their things and left the suite we had shared all semester as their last exams were written and they headed home for the summer (naturally, my chemistry class had its exam on the very last Friday of exam period). Sitting in my empty residence trading Facebook messages with other school friends who were doing the same, the question I was continually asked was some variation of Are you sad? Are you going to miss it? I thought about this for a moment, and decided on not yet. I mean, this isn’t really the ending of anything. We’re still right at the beginning.
And that’s what first year is, isn’t it? Beginnings. Introductions. For me, in my modern physics and astronomy courses, that was introduction to quantum. Introduction to special and general relativity. Introduction to neutron stars, to condensed matter, to cosmology, to particle physics, to exoplanet detection. And outside of school, plenty more introductions. Introduction to apartment hunting, to signing a lease, to opening a credit card account. Introduction to theatre, to cast parties, to opening night. To managing props and costumes, to late night creative team meetings. Introductions to new relationships, best friends, boyfriends.
Yeah, it’s pretty cheesy, but it’s like that Winston Churchill quote. Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Still, maybe that’s even saying too much. There are so many more beginnings to be had, so many introductions to come. Introduction to co-op jobs. Introduction to rent. With luck, introduction to TAing, or to studying abroad, or to all sorts of opportunities that I cannot even begin to imagine right now.
Even being away from school this summer is holding its share of introductions. Introduction to Python, to guitar, to volunteering in a lab. I’m still right at the beginning, and I cannot wait to see what’s coming next.