The term is over and I still find it hard to believe that I am in university. Not only does it feel like move in day was yesterday, it still seems like high school graduation just happened! But in reality, three months have passed, I have written 10 papers, 8 exams, and made some of the greatest memories. Looking back at it all, I can truly say that my first term of being at the University of Waterloo has gone relatively smoothly. I have had bumps in the road, but nothing too extreme to make me question coming to post-secondary school in the first place. I think my transition was not too difficult for me because I have been given lots of advice about what to expect from my brother who is currently in his second year of university. He told me how much reading and writing was involved in arts programs compared to what I was doing in high school. I felt like I had a good understanding of what was going to happen when coming into university so I was able to handle the workload and get things done in an effective way. I can also say that I am extremely happy with the grades that I have received during the term and my hard work has been paying off.
The one thing that I was most scared about when coming into my first year was not the school work, it was the thought of life at university and meeting new people that scared me the most. I was extremely nervous to move out of my home and make new friends as I hate change with a passion. But I can easily say that coming to St. Jerome’s University has been one of the best changes I’ve ever experienced. My worries about making friends and transitioning to living on my own quickly vanished just one week into the term and it has been such a positive experience.
During the past 12 weeks, I have had a few realizations about my interests and my writing style. After several peer editing sessions and “final-for-now” submissions, I noticed that I had a habit of not expanding on my writing and leaving paragraphs looking lanky and underdeveloped. For every paper that I wrote, I would ignore the word count and just write what I thought was enough. Almost every time I did this, I was always under the word count and realized that it was because I didn’t fully explain my own thoughts in the paper. To fix this, I had to tell myself that the reader does not know what my thoughts are, so I need to clearly explain what I’m thinking. Another major realization that I have had while being in university is my interests. Originally, my two prospective majors were psychology and sociology because I knew that the two could go hand in hand. However, after experiencing all of my classes, I have come to the conclusion that sociology is not for me, but psychology is definitely going to be my major. I also took a social development studies course just out of interest and am now thinking of potentially minoring in it.
Now that my first term is over and I am soon entering my second, I have learned so many new skills and tips that I would share with students beginning their first term. As for writing, one of the things that I would suggest to people is to be careful with how they use a thesaurus. This is because, even if a word sounds like it could work in a sentence, it is always a good idea to look at the definition instead of assuming the meaning based on its synonyms. I came across this problem a few times in my first term of university and after having my papers edited, I realized that thesauruses might not always be the best idea. Another piece of advice that I would give is to be mindful of wordiness. A sentence with a bunch of words that do not need to be there could confuse the reader and impede reading. Lastly, I would tell the new students that it is extremely important to attend all classes and keep up with the course work, not allowing them to fall behind. Complete assignments earlier in advance so that there are a couple of days left before the due date for peer editing and reviewing. By doing these things, I have learned to be efficient and successful with my school work which relieved a lot of my stress.
Although my first term has had its ups and downs, I have learned so many new things that I will take with me throughout my post-secondary journey. It has been a great start to the beginning of university and I can’t wait to see what’s still to come.