One’s first semester in university is often an eye-opening experience. Mine was not dissimilar; in particular, I found myself studying more than ever for lower than ever grades. I would read the material before lectures and still not be able to follow the professor. And in my best subject, mathematics, I found myself seeking help from a tutor – something that was quite humbling, considering that I was tutoring my peers just a few months earlier in high school. I admit I was a bit discouraged. But fortunately, I did not let this academic disappointment get the best of me, and I continued to pursue other interests in my spare time. If I could provide any advice to first-year university students, I would repeat precisely this fact: no matter how much time is required for your courses, do not let it inhibit you from continuing with your established lifestyle. For me, this meant setting aside time for physical activity, volunteer work, and socializing with my friends. Though I was still not at ease in my courses, these commitments allowed to me guarantee diversity in my routine – something I have found to be essential while at university. And this diversity also increased my productivity while studying, too!
Once I completed my first exams in December, I reflected extensively over the academic challenges that I was facing. I realized that though my grades weren’t as high as I had hoped, the amount of knowledge that I had gained in those past twelve weeks was incredible. And then I understood that this is exactly what the transition to university is about! Don’t get me wrong - it is important to do well in all of one’s courses – but what I had failed to remember (while I was fretting over tough assignments and tests) was that I came to U of T not for a transcript, but for an education. This insight gave me an entirely new perspective when I returned to Toronto in January.
Now that it is almost time to write finals again, I can gladly recall the great experience that I have had during this second semester! I have continued to stay involved with the U of T Quidditch Team, as well as the U of T Rotaract Club. In fact, next year I will be on the latter’s board of executives as treasurer – a role that will allow me to spend more time effecting positive change across the city. Additionally, I have been coordinating with students back in British Columbia, which has allowed me to maintain my positions as Provincial Ambassador for Lights Out Canada, and President of the Nicholls Park Revitalization Project. If you have questions about either of these terrific groups, please send me an email!
But though these involvements have been a blast, what has really made this semester great had been my classes. As I hinted above, I came into this new term with a different approach to my studies. I decided that I would devote just as much time (if not a bit more) to getting high grades, but I would also make a point to enjoy the knowledge that I was gaining – to savour every single piece of information that I could! The result: I have come to love my courses more than ever before! I have become so passionate about learning that I have been doing extra readings and extra problems, trying to challenge myself to master all of the material. And of course this has its own benefits as well – I have been doing better in all of my courses this semester!
This summer, I will be returning to Parksville, BC to participate in the BMO Student Internship Program. And when I return in the fall, I plan to bring with me this same positive perspective of university education. I have always had a passion for learning, but this year at U of T has ripened this passion into something so much more.