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A Letter to My First-Year Self

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

Dear Regina,

First of all, choosing McGill was absolutely, undoubtedly the right decision for you. You’ll have some doubts during the first few days after you move in, but trust me, that’s completely normal. Settling in here will take some time. Starting from scratch at a school where you don’t know a single soul is difficult, but you’ll do it, I promise! You’ll meet new people and make friends with people from all over the world.

You won’t do this until second year, but join the activities and clubs that genuinely interest you. Don’t sign up for listservs that you don’t really want to be on just because you feel guilty for making eye contact with the people that were tabling.

Right now, you write, but only in a diary. Give it some time, and soon you’ll be writing for others to read, and it will change you for the better. You’ll discover your passion for writing, and that will help guide you in the future.

Take advantage of the resources that are available to you! Organizations like CaPS, IT Services, and Midnight Kitchen are at your disposal, even if you don’t realize it. Start going to CaPS as soon as possible, whether you’re attending workshops or just talking to advisers. You don’t want to reach the end of your degree and feel like you have no idea how to apply for jobs. Also, check out their Mentor Program; it’ll be a huge help to talk to a McGill alum who’s already working in the industry. A lot of issues or questions about your computer can be solved through a quick stop by or phone call to IT Services in Sherbrooke 688. Once you stop relying on your meal plan for lunches on campus, Midnight Kitchen offers by-donation vegan lunches every day in SSMU. There are so many services that you can benefit from if you just keep an eye out for them.

The first winter that you spend in Montreal will be quite an experience. It is extremely cold and you’ll experience entirely new levels of bitter frigidity, but you’ll make it through. You and your other first-year friends will feel a certain camaraderie for enduring it together. Listen to Mom and start taking those Vitamin D supplements, though. It really does make a difference, and you won’t be getting as much sunlight as you’re used to, after years of living in North Carolina.

Stop telling yourself that you can do the touristy things later, and just go already! Three years will go by fast, and you’re going to find yourself scrambling to visit the Redpath Museum, to go to the cat café, and to see the sunrise from Mont Royal in your last semester.

People are going to mispronounce your name. You probably forgot about this fact after living in the US for so many years, but the capital of Saskatchewan is regrettably pronounced in a different way than your name. Fortunately, you’ll soon realize that making a Mean Girls reference when you first meet people will help them remember the correct pronunciation of your name.

Moving off-campus into an apartment all on your own will make you feel like you’re a child pretending to be an adult, but somewhere along the way, you’ll get the hang of it. Living alone is something that everyone should do at some point in their lives, in my opinion. You come to know yourself really well, and learn to appreciate your own company when you live on your own. I’m glad that you got to do it right off the bat. Leaving this apartment behind is going to be hard; it will have been the first home you ever had all by yourself.

Choosing to apply for exchange will turn out to be the beginning of a wonderful adventure. You’ll live an extraordinary adventure abroad. You’ll move in with a total stranger, who will turn into your closest friend while you’re in Paris. You’ll visit so many amazing cities in beautiful countries, you’ll so much learn about yourself, and it will change your life.

You’re going to endure some of the most stressful nights of your life so far during university. At times, it will feel like you’ll never make it through, but you absolutely will! Your friends and your family are there to support you, and trust me, you’ll survive.

The grades you get at McGill are not going to be as stellar as the ones you got in high school. That’s normal, and honestly, what matters more to me now are the memories I’ve made rather than the marks I’ve received.

Treasure this time, Regina, because you’ll never have these three years again, and they’ve been wonderful. Sometimes, I wish I could go back and relive some moments over and over again. Looking ahead now, the future is unknown, but somehow that doesn’t scare me as much as it used to. I think that might be thanks to all that I’ve experienced in my time at McGill. So, first-year me, get ready for a wild ride.


Much love,



Images are the author’s own.

After spending a wonderful fall 2015 term in Paris, France, Regina is in her final semester at McGill University, studying Economics and French. She loves reading and writing in her spare time, travelling to foreign places, and baking anything she has the ingredients for. She also occasionally plays the oboe. Some of Regina's favourites include the colour blue, the season of fall, and the movie You've Got Mail. You can follow her on Instagram under the handle @reginawung.