How did your term go? What were you most surprised by (particularly in terms of writing, but not exclusively so)?
I MADE IT! WHAT A MIRACLE! Simultaneously, I am elated, proud, and mysteriously disappointed. The conclusion of my first term at SJU has brought on an array of emotions and thoughts, and I am left confused. I am quite proud of the work I have done in the past few months, I’ve worked hard and I know that the marks I’ve received are equal to the effort put in. I have had a tough time with other aspects of university life, from the separation from family and boyfriend, to experiencing life with a complete stranger in a roommate setting, to finding the balance between work and play, and exploring the new city I am now calling home. I know that although the past several weeks have been especially taxing, I have been able to pull through moderately strong, and being able to see the finish line in the distance has provided the last bit of motivation needed. Yet, I feel a sort of sadness in leaving these classes behind, but I know that there are bigger and better things to come.
In terms of writing, I have loved getting to learn new concepts and writing styles; this class has been very enjoyable and beneficial. I looked forward to attending this class, along with working on the assignments given. I was most surprised by both the challenges faced with different parts of my writing, as well as the other areas I was able to succeed in. I thought, as I had been told this in all of high school, that every little aspect of my writing was going to be torn apart and built again from the ground up. In reality, while there definitely has been growth and change within my writing, there has been components that have remained the same. This has affected me differently in all of my classess. I am fairly strong at writing casually and with a flowery tone, but I need to work on and strengthen my academic and professional writing skills, as I became aware of through my International Studies and Sociology 101 classes.
What advice would you give first year students now that you are about to enter your 1B term or continue your 1A? What writing advice would you give them?
If I were able to give advice to some kids entering UW or SJU this next September, I would first address that it is not as ‘bad’ or hard as we are told. I arrived here this past September with much anxiety and absolutely no idea what to expect. As I was anxiety-ridden, my first presumption was that it was going to be incredibly difficult and I’d have such a heavy workload that I’d never find time to do things that I enjoy outside of school. All throughout high school I was told that I better be ready for university, because it is going to kick your ass. I had been raised to believe that university was the place I needed to be eventually, but while there I was going to suffer. I know now that although there is a significant difference between high school and post-secondary, it usually isn’t unmanageable; you aren’t going to die if you get below a 90, or even an 80! The work will be challenging and time-consuming, but if you are taking classes that truly interest you, it will be easier to complete assignments and find inspiration for the ones you have some room to work with. I would let them know that, for me personally, leaving your family and watching your friends go off in so many directions will be very, very hard. It will take at least a good couple months to finally talk to your mom on the phone without being upset, and that is completely okay. Moving out is such a big step, especially if you’ve never done it before, and the longest you’ve been away from home is a couple of weeks. You will lose contact with many of your friends, and quite honestly, it’s probably for the best. You are going to meet so many people here, but don’t feel pressured to make a friendship work just because they are a new person and you are both in a brand-new environment; you will find people that you truly click with, it just might take some time. Overall, I would try to make sure that they understand that YOU WILL BE OKAY. It may take some time to get there, and that is alright. You’ll make it, and you will be so much stronger for it.
I would tell them to enter their ENGL class with an open mind. It will be very difficult to succeed and grow in that class if you keep your mind closed off to new concepts and methods of writing. Someone who has hated English and writing all their life may come to love it. There is a process of maturation in such a short period of time that you don’t realize how much your writing has changed until you take a step back and reflect. Make sure to write in the style your major requests, otherwise your marks will suffer no matter how well written your paper is. Try to find the joy and passion in the subject or topic you are writing about, it will make the whole process much easier and more enjoyable!