Advice From A Third Year Student

Welcome to McGill!

The leaves are slowly changing colors (apart from that one tree on my street that’s already all red) and all the new students are getting over their Frosh cold and adjusting to university life.

A brand new school year as started, and I want to take the time to welcome all the new students to McGill! You are embarking on a grand adventure that will change your life forever. Your time in University will be a time of change, discovery, stress (that’s for sure), but also hopefully of joy. There’s a reason why people keep saying their best years were their university years.


To all returning students: welcome, welcome! I hope you all had a good summer, and that you are ready to work work work again!


University is not always easy! Actually, it may just be the hardest thing you’ll do in your life. The workload is astonishing, living far from home is hard, dealing with newfound freedom but also a tight budget can be extremely stressful. But as an experienced McGillian, I’m here to give you a few advice on how to survive your first year!


1. Don’t take yourself too seriously


I know, everyone told you that university is the “real world”, the world of adulthood. They were all wrong. University is High School 2.0. The same gossips, the same stupid love stories, sports games, homework, and parties. Just like in 2nd grade, you’ll meet people one day and become friends, just to forget their names right after and make other friends the next day. And that’s ok. People still pass little messages to each other in class when the lecture is boring, just like in 6th grade, and it’s still just as hilarious.


University may be a place of higher knowledge, but we are all still children, acting like kids and teens in a world of adults. So don’t take yourself to seriously—be silly, be funny, make mistakes, talk to that person even if it’s the one and only time you’ll interact. Ask that question in class, eat all the candy, sing and dance on campus with your friends!


The world will soon ask you to be a boring adult with all their childish impulses under control, but not now. Now you can still be a child, a grown-up child!


2. Get involved

My friends and I are now starting our 3rd year at McGill, and personally I feel at home at McGill. Not them. The reason behind this comes from their involvement in the school culture, or lack thereof. They didn't join any clubs, they don’t go to parties, they don’t mingle with students from different years or different faculties. They get up, go to class, do their work, go home. They know the people in our cohort, and that’s about it.


Me, on the contrary, I got involved. I went to the activity night my first year of Uni, and got involved with a club. I wasn’t necessarily searching for a specific club, I was just curious. And when HerCampus asked me if I wanted to write for them, I thought “why not, I’ll drop it if I don’t like it”. And look now, 3 years later I’m still writing for HerCampus!


Of course, you won’t always hear success stories. Sometimes, a club can be boring, or might just not be what you were looking for. But you don’t lose anything by trying.


3. Find some people (even if it’s not your people)

“Find your people”…that’s something I’ve heard so many people say when talking about university. That’s where they met their best friends, that’s where they found their true friends and where they belonged, with THEIR people.


I’m sorry, but I’m calling bullshit on this! Anyone can be anybody’s people if you want it to be. The relationship you build with others will become significant depending on how much time you put into it. Friends become “your people” if you spend all your time with them, yes, not because you were destined to be friends or whatever. My advice is: find people! Any people! Find friends. Some you’ll hang out with only at schools, some you might see on weekends. People you’ll be friends with for a month, or a year, and others for all your time in uni. But don’t stay alone in your corner, because time will go by so slow if you do that.


I’m not saying become the biggest brightest social butterfly (unless you want to), but do talk to your peers and make connections. Because one thing is for sure, studying with others, even if they aren’t “your people”, is way more fun than studying alone.


4. Stay organized

Listen, I hear you, y’all are struggling with this one. For me, it’s easy! I’m a teacher; it’s in my blood, but for the rest of the world, organization is VERY HARD.


Here’s how I do it, and if it suits you, feel free to steal my system. First, I write down all my classes (time and place) in my planner, as well as my meetings.


Scratch that! FIRST, I get a planner!

Make sure it’s a good one, one that you like and that makes you happy when you see it. I’ve tried a bunch of different brands over the years and I still haven’t found the perfect one for me, but my planner this year is definitely the prettiest so far!


Second: Write things down, even if you know it! This is the secret to staying on top of your shit! You have that meeting on that day, write it down! That paper you’ve been working on? Yes write it! Work schedules, lunch date, assignments, parties with friends! Write it all, it can only help!


Third: Color code. I know it sounds dumb, but it helps. All my classes are written in black, all assignments in blue, all exams and due dates in red.


Fourth (and final step): update your planner. The true secret to staying organized is keeping things up to date. Regardless of the system you use, if you drop it after two weeks, you won’t be on top of your game.


5. Enjoy it because it will fly by

University goes by so quickly. For most of us, it will last 4 years, maybe longer, maybe shorter for some, but I promise you these 4 years will feel like 1. I can’t believe I’m already in my third year. It’s like I blinked and now I’m about to graduate! Did I learn a lot? Yes, in some classes more than others. Did I make a lot of memories? Heck yea! Will I remember this period of my life forever? Always!

4 years is a long time, 4 years is also a short time. A lot can happen, but you also have to make things happen. So go out there, be true to yourself, and have fun! There will always be assignments and exams, but you will never be as young as you are today ever again! So make the most of it!




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