We’re told our whole lives about how much we have to look forward to at university. We hear our parents “legendary” stories, anecdotes from older siblings, and college content always reminding us that we’re going to have so much fun once we get to university. And now, I’m here! I’m Alex (and yes, I am female). Here’s what my first month of university at Queen’s looked like.
First of all, as I’m sure many first years can relate, there were SO MANY EMOTIONS. You’re trying to deal with the excitement of starting this new chapter of your life, fear about making friends, sadness of leaving your parents, anxiety about school work and, on top of that, adjusting to (possibly) a whole new living environment. This is a lot to handle for the average 18 year old. And I’m no expert. I have only done the whole thing once and I’m still going through it right now. But from my perspective, it really wasn’t all that bad. I tried to tackle everything thrown at me with a positive attitude: the possibility of meeting my future best friends, gaining new independence, the opportunity to learn and a change of environment. But there have definitely been ups and downs.
Since university life looks a bit different this year due to this pandemic, which I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about, some of these adjustments have been made easier and some a lot harder. Meeting friends has been a greater challenge this year, with classes being online and all of the restrictions on social gatherings. But at least we didn’t have to deal with the added stress of finding our classes in the first week of school! Online school has also definitely been a tricky adjustment. I feel like I do school from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to sleep with the exception of eating, going to the bathroom, and socializing. But at least we’re all in the same boat. We’ve all been attached to our laptops, relying on our blue light glasses, and dealing with screen-induced headaches. We just have to remember that this is all (hopefully) temporary and we’ll get a real university experience soon enough. We’ll always be the class of 2024 that had a turbulent end of grade 12 and start to first year, that all makes great stories to tell our kids, right?
On a lighter note, I’ve really been enjoying living in residence. It’s like summer camp with all of your friends, all year round! I also don’t understand why people complain about the dining halls. The food’s great and you can eat as much as you want; what more could a girl ask for? I’m fortunate enough to have a dining hall in the bottom of my residence building, and waking up and going down there in my pajamas is one of the best parts of living in res.
It was all going swell until all of a sudden I was put into isolation. That’s right, the full 14 days in good old Smith house. Don’t worry, I’m fine, I don’t have COVID, but my first impression of university life has definitely been knocked down a few pegs. I was just starting to get settled into my dorm room, figuring out a routine and exploring the campus when all of a sudden I wasn’t allowed to leave my 9.5×15 isolation dorm room. Now, I thought I was pretty good at being alone. I could keep myself entertained, do school work and FaceTime as much as I want. But let me tell you, two weeks with no human interaction is exactly as bad as it sounds. FaceTime just can’t replace real face time with real people. And don’t even get me started on the food in here. Let’s just say I’m never going to take the dining halls for granted ever again.
I got out of Smith on Thanksgiving weekend and the whole experience made me extra grateful for a lot of things this year. Although I did miss out on two prime weeks of Queen’s in the fall, I’m grateful that I get to be at this beautiful campus, I’m grateful for all the friends I’ve made here and I’m especially grateful for being able to go home and see my family. Everybody has varying degrees of homesickness during first year (or so I’ve heard – again, I’m still a rookie), and as much as you may say you don’t miss home at all, it definitely feels nice to return to a sense of familiarity after having a whole new world thrown at you. Or in my case, having a whole new world thrown at you and then having it all taken away. Let’s hope it’s only up from here!