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The Hardest Part of First Year

I can picture the first day of university as if it were yesterday. I remember pulling up to Gordon House in the pouring rain, car loaded with all the things (I thought) I needed for first year, looking at the place where I would live for the next eight months of my life. I never thought that the walls of this building would withhold so many memories in such a short time period. I remember unlocking the door to my room and sitting on the creaky bed frame, alone, taking in the fact that I was now in university. Then FROSH week began, and the whole university experience began to unfold. Now, I feel as though I hit fast-forward and first year is over. 

First year was an emotional rollercoaster, experiencing amazing opportunities and immense challenges that I never thought I would ever encounter, all at an exhilarating speed. I remember the emptiness of missing my loved ones, the shock and dread of failing for the first time, the exhaustion of meeting ample deadlines, and struggling to strike a balance between work and fun. But I made it, and yet I can still say that these obstacles were not the most challenging part of my first year.

The most challenging part of first year was leaving. 

Yes, I missed my family indubitably, and I was excited to go back home to the place that got me to where I am today, yet, I cannot say that I have not cried about leaving these precious moments behind. First year was the very definition of a turning point for me. I came in with roots, and now those roots have branched out, allowing me to grow into a person who I believe has much to look forward to. University crafted me to become resilient, independent, and essentially, flourish into a person that I am proud to have become.

I have accepted the fact that I cannot hit the rewind button and go back to September 3, 2017. Instead, I will carry these memories with me for the rest of my life. Moving forward, however, I can only pay great thanks to many people who have given me this precious opportunity: 

To my parents,

Thank you for your unconditional support. Thank you for not freaking out every time I said that I was “dying” or that I was going to drop out. Thank you for assuring me throughout all the tears of believing that I couldn’t succeed that I could in fact push through. From your daily check-in text messages to driving all the way to see me when I was going through a difficult time, I cannot thank you enough. You are my rocks. To my professors,

Thank you for giving me a glimpse of the real world. The thought of ever failing did not occur to me until you enlightened me of this inevitable reality. Your challenges and unreasonable deadlines were not to punish us, they were in fact a taste of resilience. Experiencing and obtaining this quality is universally applicable, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to exercise it. While the content taught will be valuable to my career path, your intangible lessons will be carried with me for the rest of my life. First year was an incredible learning opportunity, and I am eternally thankful.

To my new friends,

I never thought I could ever meet more kind, authentic, and caring individuals than you. You have created memories that I will forever cherish. You not only became my support group, but a group of people that I could be my authentic self around. You truly enriched my university experience, and I am so grateful to have met all of you.

I believe that we all change in our first year of university. We change for the better. Our past got us here, but I truly believe our first year of university sets the tone for our futures and I cannot wait

Hailey Rodgers is from a small town called Westport, Ontario and is in her third year of Commerce at Queen's University. She loves to travel, meet new people, and learn. Hailey's passion for adventure and sharing her experiences is illustrated in her writing. 
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