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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Dalhousie chapter.

It’s that time of year again when upper-year university students have the privilege of seeing first-years walk around campus with hope in their eyes, and reminisce about their first few days of university. There’s something nostalgic about going back to a time where everything was so new, so thrilling and so filled with potential.

My first year of university was completed via laptop at a wooden desk in the corner of my room back home. It wasn’t exactly a year filled with exciting new horizons, challenges and potential for change. However, now that COVID-19 restrictions have lightened and the world has begun to open up, new students have the chance to broaden their horizons, and live experiences I was deprived of in my first year. Because of this, I wanted to give three pieces of advice that I wish someone had taught me when I was a brand new university student.

Your First Friends Won’t Always Be Your Best Friends

When school starts, and there’s a sense of possibility in the air, we’re often apt to seek out new friends right away. I’ve witnessed many groups of freshmen cling to each other within hours of meeting, promising one another that their future children would be best friends. However, I’ve also seen these instant friendships fizzle out as quickly as they started, time and time again; and that’s okay.

One of the largest and toughest pills I’ve ever had to swallow in my life is the truth that not all bonds are made to last. There are people I once told everything to that I would now pass by on the street. There are people I used to see every day whom I now see every month. The important thing to remember is that this is normal. Different people are meant to fill different purposes in your life, and it’s easy to forget that.

You should never feel pressured to stick by the first people you meet for the rest of your degree. You should also never feel guilty if a bond you formed during your first week starts to dissipate by the second week. The right people will stick by you, and the friendships that weren’t meant to be will filter out. Nonetheless, you will always be left with fond memories to look back on from your first few weeks as a university student.

Time is What You Make of it

When I first started university, I convinced myself I was going to spend all the free time I had writing, reading, studying, anything I could do to be the best student possible, and only that. Obviously, that pipe dream did not come to fruition, which is probably a good thing. 

Making the most of your time as a student does NOT mean having the most organized notes, being the last one standing at study hall, or being on time to every lecture. Connecting with types of people you’ve never encountered, discovering parts of yourself you never knew existed, and exploring the world around you are all equally important parts of the student experience. 

While academia is obviously an incredibly vital part of university life, it’s also important to make time for fun – as cliche as that sounds. Some of the greatest lessons you’ll learn won’t be in a classroom. Some of the biggest challenges you’ll face won’t be in a lab. Most of the memories you’ll make during your time as a student won’t be school-based at all, and that’s a fact.

If you really want to make the most of your time as a student, make time to get to know the people and places around you, and seek out any experiences you can. Go out, explore the town, talk to someone sitting near you in class, take up a new hobby. Trust me, there’s always time.

Every Winner Has Been a Failure

University can be one of the most isolating periods of one’s life. It can sometimes feel like the world is crashing down on you while your peers are flying above you in first class. But believe me when I say everyone has been there.

No success has ever come without some form of struggle. It can be easy to forget that, especially in the age of social media where people have the ability to parade their successes for everyone to see. While it might feel like you are the only one having a hard time, whether it be academically or socially, just know that everyone around you is struggling silently. Even those who seem to be excelling in everything are fighting to do so. Perfection is completely fictional, especially in a university setting.

Communication is the key to ridding ourselves of these feelings of isolation and failure. If you’re having trouble with a course, reach out to your classmates and ask questions. You will be pleasantly surprised to find out others might be asking the same questions as you. If you find yourself missing home, or struggling to make friends, talk to someone close to you about your troubles. There will always be someone who feels the exact same way.

We are all a lot more alike than we think, and the best way to discover that is by talking to each other.

Kaitlyn MacNeill

Dalhousie '24

My name is Kaitlyn MacNeill, and I'm a second-year journalism student at the University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I've been newly appointed as a member of the editing team for Her Campus Dalhousie/King's. I have a passion for movies, fashion, music and photography.