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The Truth about Starting Fourth Year

If you have ever felt personally victimized by random adults telling you about how university will be the “best four years of your life,” please raise your hand.

Hearing that phrase used to drive me crazy. How could university really differ that much from any other school experience? What about it made it the “best”? Well, it wasn’t until I started my course registration and planning for my fourth year that I realized just how true that statement was.

I was once a kid who didn’t like being told what to do. It pained me to walk, talk, and think uniformly with my peers. The cookie-cutter structures of elementary and secondary school made it feel tedious, even lifeless at times. If you’ve ever feared not being able to break free of that, don’t worry, because university won’t contain you in the same ways.

When I walked into class on my first day, I was skeptical. Orientation week starts you off on such a high that once it’s over you almost don’t know what to do with yourself. The lecture hall was crowded, everyone was sweating from the heat, and we all looked exhausted. After only a week of many of us living on our own for the first time, we were already seemingly crashing. It was mildly terrifying. Yet, as the lecture started, I felt myself getting lost in the class. My professor was engaging and excellent at mediating conversations between my classmates. Before I knew it, my ears were ringing with new perspectives and fresh ideas. Imagery I never would have thought of myself, and questions I hadn’t even known I wanted the answer to filled the room. I became excited and eager for this new adventure.

Somewhere between house hunting with a group of friends I barely knew, exams, home-sickness, and sleeping through my 8:30s, I lost a bit of my first-year magic. Assignments piled up and friends got busier. Enticing food options dwindled. Things were getting harder and I could feel the slope that was going to be undergrad increase. Things weren’t looking the best and it hit me pretty hard. All I could do was try to look forward to my remaining years.

Second and third went by faster than any years of my life. They were hard, and I took a long time to reach out to someone when my mental health took a hit. Luckily, the Queen’s community has some amazing resources that, along with a little help from my friends and family, helped me out of my slump. The years were quickly disappearing and I realized there was so much I had yet to do. I hadn’t even joined a club. I became hopeful with opportunities and goal setting.

This past summer was an eye-opening four months for me. I noted all of the things I hope to accomplish this year as I prepare to graduate. Course registration went smoothly, and I have genuine interest in every course I’m taking. I even made sure to join a club (shout out to Her Campus for the opportunity). Things have never looked brighter, and I have a lot of people to thank for getting me through some dark times.

Preserving relationships with people who support you is so important. You will get knocked down from time to time. While you can always pick yourself up and move on, it makes it a lot nicer when you have a few hands to help you up too.

It’s a common fault to not recognize the value of a moment until after it happens. I encourage you to not let that happen with your limited years here at Queen’s. Live so presently that every moment resonates. If you don’t, you’ll wake up one day, like me, with the impending doom of future woes weighing heavily on you. All of the “what-ifs” and “maybes” will add up. Seize your undergraduate experience and guide it in every direction you want, or need, it to go. Join a club, hang out at Queen’s Pub, take the ferry to Wolfe Island, and enjoy the restaurants downtown. Make these “best” four years count. It’ll be worth it in the end. Trust me.

When it starts, you’ll wish it was over. When it’s over, you’ll wish it wasn’t.

Sarah Mitchell

Queen's U '19

Sarah is a fourth year student at Queen's University with a love for creative writing and social change. She grew up in a small town in Southern Ontario which helped her appreciate her surroundings. Ideas for articles have been swimming around in her head for years, so she figured why not put them to use. Happy reading.
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