Completing the first semester of my third year as an introspective person has me reflecting on the person I was when I started university and how much I’ve changed. The last few years have been quite formative. They had ups and downs, but I learned a lot about myself and the kind of life I want to live.
Looking back, there are a few things I would tell my younger self that would’ve helped me navigate university better and I wanted to share them.
This is a transition period. Don’t be too hard on yourself!
The shift from high school to university is massive. Every aspect of our lives changes. We go from having our family support system to being on our own; from having our days structured for us to being free to decide how we spend our time; from having friends we’ve known for years to being in big lecture halls with no familiar faces. It’s difficult.
I was quite hard on myself and, looking back, I really didn’t need to be. As you navigate this new chapter, you are bound to make mistakes and that’s okay! It’s best to have grace with yourself and learn from your mistakes along the way.
It’s okay to ask for help.
With all the new things we must do like research papers and lab components, a lot of us experience a drop in our grades at the beginning: that’s completely normal. The good news is that there are so many resources at our disposal.
- Go to office hours! Our professors are there to help us. Utilize office hours to ask any question you have, no matter how silly it may seem. My only regret is not going sooner and more often!
- Check out Program Plans! UBCO Program Plans lay out each major and its requirements. They are great resources for when you are unsure of what to major in or want insight on the discipline-specific opportunities that are available to you.
Everybody wants to make a friend, but no one wants to make the first move.
Making friends is a daunting experience, but take comfort in knowing that everybody is in the same position. We are all alone and looking for friends; most of us are too shy to do anything about it. The best way to make friends is to make the first move: say hi to the person sitting next to you in class, organize study sessions together, attend that club alone. A simple “hi” or complement can turn into a wonderful friendship. Follow @ubcostudents on Instagram for some tips!
New country, new culture, new home.
Coming from Kenya as an international student, I expected to experience some sort of culture shock but in all honestly, I figured that I had interacted with western media and culture enough to know what to expect. Boy, was I wrong! Canadian humor is different, people’s leisurely activities are different, and even public transport took some time to navigate. Additionally, adjusting to the winter was a huge challenge. I never experienced winter or daylight savings before (a silly concept if you ask me but that’s a topic for a blog of its own). With all of these new experiences, it was difficult to feel at home. Looking back, I would tell myself that in this adjustment period, it’s important to build a home within myself.
Your university experience is in your hands.
As UBC says, Tuum Est: your university experience is what you make it. Our campus has so many clubs, events, and opportunities to explore, which can help create a fulfilling university experience. It takes some courage to put yourself out there and come out of your comfort zone but I think that’s what university is all about. In my first couple of years, I kept to myself, letting my anxiety get the better of me. Looking back, I wish I would’ve been fearless and bold in my desire for the full university experience. In the words of Taylor Swift, “the scary news is you’re on your own now, the cool news is you’re on your own now.” You have the power to create the life and experiences you want: go out and do it!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ideja Efendija is a a third-year international student majoring in International Relations. Originally from Kosovo, she’s lived most of her life in Kenya. She is passionate about politics, Lana Del Rey, and language learning. As a student content creator, she hopes to create content that entertains and fosters community at UBCO.