Though I spent a lot of time with my nose buried in textbooks, I did manage to learn a few life lessons, and a couple tips and tricks out of my freshman year. Keep reading for 10 things I learned as a freshman at the University of Toronto!
1. Making friends is way easier than you think.
At the beginning of freshman year, pretty much everyone feels insecure and is desperate for friends. After the first couple months of university, I realised that this rule actually goes for life in general. People are a lot more open than you think, and you might end up having a great conversation with a stranger.
2. …But making good friends can be a little harder.
The hard part about making friends freshman year is actually keeping them, especially in a school as big as U of T. Unlike high school, you aren’t forced to be with your friends every day, so you have to put in that extra mile to make good friends, especially if you live off-campus. But putting in that effort is more than worth it. I don’t know how I would have gotten through this year without the friends I made. Plus, you have to have a squad to post a #squadgoals pic like this one!
3. Don’t leave your studying until the last minute.
I’m sure this tip is almost useless to write. It’s something we all know we shouldn’t do; yet we somehow all do it. Sometimes this year I had myself together, and I have to admit that not cramming the night before did make me feel all grown-up, and even helped me get better marks. Maybe one day I can even have a desk that looks like this.
4. Studying can be a social activity.
I’ve found that studying with people is one of best ways to make (and keep) friends. No one wants to do homework, so people will start conversations to procrastinate. Plus, at 3 AM everything is funny, so you’ll definitely get some quality bonding time with your friends. Sometimes you might even be productive in a group study session and learn that little bit of information that will save you on your exam.
5. Choose the professor, not the course.
The site saved my life this year. I looked up each professor I would potentially have, and the site had reviews and ratings for almost all of them done by past students. Most pre-requisite classes in first year are huge, so you’ll mostly likely get a bit of choice even if you have to take the class. You don’t want to end up like this cat in lecture.
6. The Freshman Fifteen is no myth.
I LOVED my dining hall (if you’re on campus and curious, it was the UC dining hall on St. George). This was a (very) unpopular opinion, but people still ate from it – though mostly not as much as I did. On top of that, with all the 3 AM study sessions, you’ll be eating a very decent amount of junk food without noticing. When you do notice, you’ll start going to the gym, and feel extremely motivated to get fit. But don’t worry, that feeling will go away after a week, and you’ll be back to avoiding your assignments by eating copious amounts of Doritos.
7. Somehow you won’t use your meal plan money.
It’s true, even though you’ll be stuffing your face for most of freshman year, you’ll somehow end up with a surplus of dining hall money. To be honest it’s a bit of a mystery how this happens. I thought I would be in the red because I eat about three plates of food per meal, but somehow I had an extra thousand dollars. If you have the option, go with the smallest meal plan you can. You can always add money to it later.
8. You and everyone around you will cry.
Freshman year is hard, there’s no denying it. Everyone is bound to fall apart a little or a lot – even that guy who SWEARS he hasn’t cried since 2003. My insanely productive friend who has rugby practice every morning at 6 AM has ‘five emotional minutes’ per day. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how that works out for her. But if you’re a regular human, and can’t always control your emotions, don’t feel bad about it. Disclaimer: you won’t look like Angelina when you cry during exam season.
9. Back up your files (no, but really do it).
This one is pretty self-explanatory. University Profs are extremely wary of excuses, and technical mess-ups definitely won’t cut it. Backing up your files saves you a lot of anxiety and time, and there’s no excuse now because it’s easier than ever. I save everything onto OneDrive, up into the cloud, so I never even have to worry about where I put that pesky USB I saved my essay onto.
10. Try new things and be open to everyone and every thing.
Yes, a cliché final word, but University really does have so much to offer. So join that club, take that random class, march in that protest. Not everything you do will be perfectly suited to you, but if you never try it, you’ll never know. Undergrad is the only time where your biggest responsibility (besides paying tuition…) is to learn about the world and about yourself. It does have the potential to be the best time of your life. Be open your freshman year, and the world will reciprocate.