I never would have thought that my first term of university would have passed so quickly. Just three short months ago, I was moving into a new place that I would have to call my home, I didn’t know anyone living around me, and I had no clue what to expect for my first university lecture. Although my family is just 15 minutes down the road, there was still a part of me that was scared about being out of the house and on my own. Luckily, I have an amazing roommate whom I already knew from high school. She is my go to and my rock while I don’t have my family around me.
I was excited for university, but even more terrified. I fear the unknown and the things I can’t control. My whole life, I knew I wanted to go to the University of Waterloo. Originally it was because I wanted to go into optometry, but even after that changed, what drew me to Waterloo was the fact that it was so close to home.
Growing up, my parents would make jokes that I would never move out of the house. I always laughed, not because I thought the jokes were funny, but because I honestly thought it was true. Before coming to university, the longest I had ever been away from my parents was 10 days when I went on a school trip to Italy in grade 11. I will openly admit to the fact that I broke down the day before leaving and cried because I was scared. Italy was the one place I have always wanted to go, and I was beyond excited to have the opportunity to go, but I was scared to be across the ocean, in a different continent, away from my parents. I had to keep reassuring myself that everything was going to be fine, and that I was going to have the time of my life on that trip (which I did).
I survived being away from my parents throughout the course of that 10 day trip. Surviving university on the other hand, I didn’t know if it would be possible. I may live very close to Waterloo, but that doesn’t mean I always get to see my family whenever I want. During soccer season, I only got to see my parents a few times when they came to the couple games I played in, or when I realized I forgot stuff at home that they needed to bring to me. Each time, I was only seeing them for about five minutes, if I was lucky. Even once soccer was done, there were midterms and now finals. The madness of university just never stops. It shocked me when one day I realized I had gone two weeks without having any form of communication with anyone in my family.
I guess university has shown me that I am more independent on my own than I thought I could be. Throughout these three months in university, I have learned a lot about myself and the person I am becoming. All my expectations of what university was going to be like were thrown out the window very quickly when reality hit me hard.
All of the work came on very quickly and never stopped coming. Although my class schedule for the term was very nice and I didn’t have many hours of class each day, I always seemed to be doing school work. I had so many readings and assignments to write, and the year started off with me only leaving my room for food, class, or soccer. I had to find my balance of work and break so that I wouldn’t drive myself to the point of insanity.
I was able to figure out the little tricks that worked for me, but still, I constantly felt overwhelmed with work. During midterms, I had other assignments I would have to do when I needed to be studying, resulting in a very reduced amount of study time. This seemed to happen multiple times before my midterms. I wasn’t even procrastinating on the assignments, they were just handed out and due at the worst possible times for me.
People keep trying to put down arts students and say that we have it easy. I can’t stand these kinds of people, because not only is being in arts a lot of work, but when trying to double major with an arts and a science, that just builds on top of the work load. When I say I’m in Honours Arts, the first thought in so many people’s minds is visual art. Now as much as I do love visual arts and I wish I had been able to continue on with it, my program has nothing to do with art. I am pursuing anthropology, which by no means is artsy. It is one of the social sciences, and overlaps a lot of biological concepts. My other major will be biology because of how well it mixes with anthropology.
Whenever I tell people what my two prospective majors are, I get a lot of the same reaction. People think it’s a weird combination that you don’t hear of too often. Once I explain that I want to go into forensics, it makes more sense to people. To be completely honest, this was not my original plan for my education. I am a huge science nerd and I love chemistry. I wanted to go into biochemistry and then get a minor in something like criminology. I did get into all the biochemistry and biotechnology programs I applied for, but decided to take the anthropology route instead since there are some skeletal osteology and forensic courses here at Waterloo. Those courses really stood out to me, so I chose to go the arts route and just take as many science courses as I possibly can.
Now that I have almost completed my 1A term, I can say that I was not prepared for university. Material wise, I was able to handle that without a problem, but when it came to the amount of work and the speed that everything happens at, high school didn’t prepare me. I don’t know if it was because I never took the social sciences in high school and was not used to having to do those sorts of readings, but having to read three chapters of a textbook at a time was a real struggle for me. I am not a fast reader by any means. I read in my head at the same speed that I would if I were to read out loud. This is just the way in which I process the information best. The number of assignments I would have overlapping each other was pretty ridiculous. I understand this is what university is like, but I never believed it when people said the jump from high school to university was so drastic.
In terms of my writing, I have always been a strong writer, but I found myself struggling more than I ever have this year. For some reason, words never just seemed to flow like they normally do. I found that I had more writer’s block within the course of this term than I have ever had over the span of my life. This may be from me not having fully adjusted to university life yet, but I won’t know, and hopefully I don’t have this situation as next next term comes around.
If I could go back to the start of the year, I would tell myself to make sure I use the resources available to me. I am the kind of person who isn’t always the best at asking for help when I need it, but I’ve realized just how important getting that help can be. All the resources I could possibly need are here for me to use, and I just need that little push to get me through the door and on my way to success. I hope future students find the help and support system they need, because it will make a huge difference in their university experience.
It’s a little late for me this term, but now that I think I have finally got my footings, I am looking forward to starting fresh next semester with my new courses. Now all I have to do is make it through the next week of stressing, studying, and actually writing my exams.
The semester has been good, and it’s time for me to say my final words and depart as I continue on with my academic journey. I would like to thank everyone who made an impact in my 1A term of university. Without you, I would not be where I am today.
This has been sjbidy, signing out for the last time.
Take care, and peace.