The University Journey of a Naïve Freshman to a Successful Graduate

By Zualakha Khawar
Photo by Vasily Koloda via Unsplash

As a high school student, I was very passionate about learning and accomplishing goals. I knew that by the time I would graduate university I’d have a great group of friends and many medals in my bag. However, university life has been nothing short of diving into the deep end of the pool when I can’t even stay grounded in the shallow end.

First Year Struggles

As a first-year Biomedical student, having to adjust to the structure of new classes made me feel lost. My proven A-grade study methods were not working. Additionally, my eight hours of uninterrupted sleep was lost in the swamp of anxiety. As winter term dawned, I was scared to commute at night after my chemistry labs. Also, walking in the snow with wet feet in -30 oC is not pleasant. Basically, I missed the yellow bus that would drop me right in front of my doorstep at 3:30 pm. 

Don’t get me wrong, life was not all miserable. I had a few middle school friends with me at York University and I made some great new friends. However, I wondered if education was even worth it. Did I really need a four-year degree to get a decent paying job? Isn’t this just a capitalistic business, preying on my naïve little mind and trying to pocket dollars while I dropped one class after another? Is it really important to learn how to calculate the tangents of a triangle when I can’t do my taxes? 

Switching It Up

One year went by and Biomedical was not the field for me. I ended up switching my major to Psychology. You will be glad to know that this journey got a little easier. My grades improved and so did my sleep pattern. I mean, I did have to take MATH 1505 all over again after the first fail in my life, but it was just about passing. I did not have a very social campus life like my friends. However, I was still living it up. 

Finding My Place As A Graduate

Third-year came, and then fourth and now fifth. The timelines we set for ourselves might not always pan out. So, the four years of planned education might drag on to a fifth or sixth year. And that is okay. I learned that my pace does not coincide with my best friends and my grades don’t align with the best of the best. I just give it all my best and have no regrets. Poetic much!

Advice To First-Years

If there is any advice I can give to first-year students, just know that you will fail. I mean, maybe not, but prepare anyway! Surround yourself with people who motivate you. Attend parties, but come back home and open your books because last-minute studying doesn’t work anymore.

You’re paying a lot of money, so make use of services like peer mentoring, office hours, mental health services, etc. You learn so many skills here. Critical thinking, time-management, flourishing under pressure, questioning beliefs and relaying my own piece of mind confidently have all come through this university experience. Therefore, I am grateful for my journey, for becoming a graduate, for the 8 am classes and the 10 pm labs. I am grateful for the group assignments and the individual presentations in front of hundreds of students. And I am grateful for the good teachers and the bad professors, my friends and kind strangers.

These experiences have shaped me into the person I am today, and I am proud of making it! Cheers to you, future graduate!

Published on January 28, 2020

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