My first year of university was a colorful blur of late night pizza orders, laughing until my cheeks hurt, frantic calls to my parents, and bills of what was I thinking purchases. All I’m left with now are collections of photos of nights gone perfectly wrong, and stains of dinners I wish I could re live. Here are some survival tips for your start as a first year at UBC.
1. Your first year at UBC is a time for “firsts.”
Be curious and open minded. Try out the activity you’ve always wanted to do but were too worried what your parents would think; or go to the event nobody else wanted to accompany you to in high school. You may surprise yourself along the way.
2. Take advantage of starting over.
One of the best feelings about being a part of somewhere new is knowing that you can change whatever you want about yourself, and that your past won’t follow you. No one knows about your embarrassing incidents, who you used to date, or what you used to listen to. If anything, the new environment should make you want to be more confident in trying new things.
3. Don’t be stuck in the past.
It’s that time to befriend people you never thought you’d be close to and try out things you thought you weren’t into. You may be homesick. You may have a case of FOMO as you see photos of your high school friends all together at the university you didn’t choose. I committed to UBC with my heart set on a different school, but once I came, I realized there’s a reason I’m here and not anywhere else.
4. Control your judgments.
Easier said than done, but when you’re thrust into a pool of people of all backgrounds and cultures, remind yourself to be accepting. Not everyone was brought up like you were or has a similar mindset. Despite any preconceived notions or knowledge, someone is enduring a struggle you never thought existed.
5. Know when to be selfish.
This doesn’t mean being less thoughtful or inconsiderate. It just means knowing when and how to take care of yourself first, as you’re all you have left at the end of the day. The future will only bring more responsibilities and obligations, and less leeway for you to do what you want compared to now. Take this time to get to know yourself better. Don’t apologize for having a preference or an opinion, and save your sacrifices for those who are deserving of them.
6. You’re only human.
We’re not just students; we’re family members, friends, significant others, employees, athletes, and much more. Writing it all down makes it seem like we’re all expected to have powers of deities. But remember that you’re doing the best you can. And if you’re not, start.
7. Don’t spread yourself thin and find the balance that works for you.
I still haven’t mastered this and probably won’t anytime soon. The balance of school, friends, and clubs/jobs won’t be the same for everyone; but it’s vital for maintaining relationships, responsibilities, and grades, as well as deciding what’s priority.
8. It’s okay to have absolutely no idea what you’re doing.
You might not know what you want to do with your life. You might not even know how to do life. For me, I thought I did, realized I didn’t, and at the moment still don’t, but I’m a lot closer than I was 10 months ago. If anyone seems like they have it all together, they’re probably just skilled at hiding the fact that they don’t.
9. Don’t be a waiter.
Instead of thinking, “I’m glad that happened,” think, “I’m glad I made that happen.” You may be a believer in fate, but the things you want won’t be handed to you and the people you want to meet won’t necessarily walk right up to you. But of course, there comes a limit in actively seeking out what you want. Because the things we want will only come once we’re ready.
10. It’s okay, and even healthy, to be alone from time to time.
There always seems to be a negative connotation that follows being in solitude. Even if it appears like everyone is always with their friends or has found their niche, it doesn’t mean you have to be the same. Don’t depend on others to be your entertainment, because sometimes the only companionship you need is yourself. Going to one place solitary and with friends are two vastly different experiences, but both are equally rewarding.
11. No one cares as much as you expect or want.
People will sympathize, but no will care about your issues like you do, because they’re yours and not theirs. It’s always comforting to vent and seek advice, but there’s only so much those around you can and would do. Because when did listening to someone apologize about what you’re going through ever make you feel better?
12. Learn to stand on your own.
It’s never too late to practice. At home, whenever you had a bad day, you had your safe place, your dog to cuddle, or your mom to talk to. You may have become accustomed to leaning on someone else’s shoulders, but what we consider to be our safety net won’t always be there.
13. Enjoy the moment!
This means living through your eyes and not through your cracked iPhone screen. Not everything has to be documented and broadcasted. Sometimes, the most authentic memories you have are the ones no one else knows about, because you lived through them not for a reaction from others, but for yourself, simply because you wanted to.
There is no right or wrong way to have lived your first year. Treasure this year, because this will be the only time you have to use your first year status as an excuse for a questionable decision or a low grade. Remember that the best days are the ones unplanned, and the best nights are when you didn’t get a lot of (or any) sleep. Most importantly, make memories that are going to make you smile four years from now, because you’re never going to have a first year of university again.
Have any other tips every first year at UBC should know? Comment below!
Featured image source: huffingtonpost.ca
Currently studying at the University of British Columbia, Tori aspires to major in Social Justice and International Relations. She is currently switching between the border, living in Vancouver and Seattle. When not writing, she is probably re-watching the Devil Wears Prada, expanding her stamp collection, or attempting to satiate her wanderlust.