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First year of university is always a frightening thing. You don’t know what will happen, what friends you’re going to make, how life will change. After completing the first year of university, here are some things that I think were the biggest changes to my life.

1. Stress

You may not realize it when it’s happening, but during the first few months of first year, I was actually going through more stress than I ever have before. I was stressed because I was alone, I didn’t know what to expect from school, I barely had any friends, etc. So much contributed to this and I just didn’t think that it would have such an impact on me. I underestimated my abilities to adapt. This will be further explained in the other categories listed underneath.

2. Independence

This is something that I struggled with the most during my first year. I am an only child, extremely close with my family, and the longest I’ve been away from both of my parents is less than a week from when I went to summer camp. With that being said, it was extremely hard for me to be independent in a place where I was unfamiliar with and where I barely knew anyone. It took me a while to adapt and be comfortable in my surroundings. Now, once I have adapted, the freedom that you have is exhilarating. I loved being able to do what I wanted when I wanted.

3. Academics

I was never the smartest or the one who had the highest grade in class, but I also wasn’t the worst student. After arriving at university, this didn’t really change much. I’m not the best, but I don’t think that I’m the worst. The thing that really changed for me is how you need to rely on yourself to study and do well. There is no such thing as “mandatory homework”. The prof doesn’t tell you what you have to do. They do however tell you what you should do to do good in the course. Now, whether you do it or not all depends on you. You choose what readings you want to do and when you want to do them. If you don’t understand something, you should take the initiative to attend office hours and get clarification. Especially since first year classes are really large, you really have to take initiative.

P.S. The amount of reading you have to do from the textbooks were a bit overwhelming as well.

4. Competition

This might be a category that’s different for everyone. My program was always known to have competitive students. I really understood what that meant during our first networking event. You truly do see the extent that people go through to make an impression on some of the recruiters. This was a bit intimidating for me as I wasn’t really exposed to this type of environment before. However, you start realizing that the competition is what makes the program great. It’s what contributes to the reputation that it has. After a while, I understood the importance of networking events and that a little competition never hurts anyone. Everything you do in life will be a competition. Whether it’s competing with someone for a job or competing with our own expectations to make us the best version of ourselves possible.

5. Extra Curriculars

Extra curricular activities. In high school, I wasn’t too involved. I didn’t feel a need to be involved and some groups like student council was mainly based on popularity. That’s something that I hated because it’s not based on your skills and abilities. This changed in university, as they only look at your skills, abilities, and personality. Also, the main reason I decided to join clubs and associations is to meet more people. University is so large that you’re never going to meet, let alone know everyone like you might have in high school. It’s a great way to meet others outside of your faculty and get involved.

Some people will have different opinions and experiences than I did and that’s totally okay. You might not go through some of the things I did either, but this is just some thoughts that I thought I’d put out there for you. There were quite a bit of changes for me, but those changes helped me grow as a person. Looking back, I tried and experienced new things, made a lot of new friends, and just loved the experience. I had a great first year.