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Tips for a successful transition to university!
August already, my how the time has flown! Looking back, I can still remember the last few weeks of summer before my first year at university. I was anxious about embarking on a new chapter in my life – particularly since this new chapter required moving to a new province and starting fresh at a university where I knew no one! At the time, I can distinctly remember anxiously checking the mail, desperate to find out which residence I was placed in and also if I had a single room or a double room with a roommate. I recall panicking over course selection and questioning if I had not only made the right choice, but also if I was even ready to take on the challenge of university level education.
Having decided to go to school out-of-province, I, at times, questioned if I was making the right decision. Would I miss my parents? Would my cat forget who I was? What if I didn’t make any friends!? These questions among others were a common occurrence in my daily thoughts as I began embarking on the tedious task of packing – which in and of itself was another monumental task!
So where am I going with this blog? Well, first and foremost, if those of you reading are anything like me, then some of the aforementioned school stresses likely relate to you too. So, being the handy dandy ‘soon to be’ fourth-year student that I am, I’m going to share some of my experiences in order to ease any pre-university jitters that some of you are more than likely having at this point in time.
I’ve written past blogs regarding the transition of going from home life to residence/university life but I feel that it is once again important to reiterate the impact which university can have on your family dynamic. However, this impact is not necessarily a negative one! If there is one thing that I’ve discovered since moving away for school, it is how distance literally can make the heart grow fonder! While I admittedly still have the occasional cry when I say goodbye to my family at the airport in Regina, my visits home become that much more important when I do get time to be there. Of course, I’m still able to keep in touch with my family all the time by phone (which I do nearly every day) and Skype. In the past year, Ottawa has really begun to feel like home. While I cherish my visits home to Regina, I tend to yearn for the independent lifestyle that I have acquired here in Ottawa.
My point in sharing this with you is that you should not be afraid of how attending university will affect your relationship with your family – whether you live two hours away or three days away by car! You will always have a special family dynamic! While going away from home wasn’t easy for me at first, I wouldn’t have changed anything for the world!
As I previously mentioned, I knew no one in Ontario, let alone Ottawa when I first came to Carleton. Having been a fairly outgoing individual in high school, it was certainly tough to say goodbye to all of the wonderful friends I had made over the years. I suddenly found myself acting more introverted than I normally was, and I was certainly not as outgoing as I had been in high school. While at first I had a little trouble fitting in with my fellow students (as I was rather homesick), overtime, I began to foster great friendships at Carleton with likeminded individuals through classes and extracurricular activities.
I’ve written many times about the transition into university academics, so I do advise you to check out some of my past blogs for more in depth advice on how to succeed. When considering academics, try to relax if you are indeed stressing out about them as I once was. University is not easy, but it is not impossible either. I was successful in completing my first three years of university, and after this year, I, like many others, will be able to call myself an alumnus and graduate with a diploma. If I can do it, then so can you! Make sure to take the opportunity to meet with professors, talk with teaching assistants, attend workshops and use the services that are provided for students to succeed – if you put in the effort, you will definitely reap the benefits!
A new city (and at times, province) can be a little overwhelming, especially if you come from rural areas like myself. However, I’m here to tell you that you should not worry at all! While becoming accustomed to a new place is a different process for everyone, I feel like getting adapted to your new place of residence is the first step toward feeling at home. It’s funny how I’ve lived in Ottawa for three years now, yet still find myself doing and discovering new things every day. For example, I went to the National Art Gallery for the first time three weeks ago, and finally went in to check out the architecture in the Notre Dame Basilica yesterday. Exploring the city in which you study is vital to gaining an appreciation and a sense of home and belonging for your new address!
I hope you find some of these tips helpful! As I look toward my final year here at Carleton, I must admit that I’m a little jealous of prospective students like you! Once I finish my degree this year, I will be off to the races on yet another adventure, and will have to leave my comfortable lifestyle at Carleton behind. Going into my fourth year at Carleton, I am thankful for all of the experiences that I have had thus far as they have helped shape me as both a student and as an individual. Milestones are never easy but are always worthwhile, so before embarking on a new chapter in your life at university, enjoy the remaining few weeks of summer!
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