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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

As a university student, I’m used to splitting my idea of “home” between two locations. (Sorry, Mom! 6 years later and my mother still frowns every time I refer to my apartment in Kingston as “home.”) Whenever I spend more than a few weeks in one place, I use the phrase “getting used to” to describe the feeling of when you’re so adjusted to a place that it becomes invisible to you.

“Getting used to” can encompass many things: it can mean growing accustomed to showers without flip-flops, reliable heating, and a doting puppy that follows you around like a floppy-eared shadow. Basically, “getting used to” something is when it stops feeling like a novelty—or like a luxury—and just starts feeling like your life.

As the New Year moves away from the festivities of the holidays and into the beginning of the new term, we find ourselves at a transition period, one marked by new obligations to “get used to”. With the firecracker motivation of New Year’s resolutions waning into the sustaining smolder of discipline, you’re likely to be peppered by the usual advice to establish and commit to a routine. Or, in other words, to “settle” into the semester.

My goal for the Winter 2023 semester is to (un)settle my semester… but what do I mean by that?

There is a drawback to “getting used to” something: you end up taking it for granted.

I started my academic journey at Queen’s as an undergraduate student in the Fall of 2016. Now, nearly 7 years, a medical leave, and an eleventh-hour switch in my major later, I’m on my final full term of my Masters degree. It’s easy to overlook the beauty of campus and the excitement of living within a university community when you’re immersed in it every day. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, the familiarity and over-saturation of being in a place for 7 years can make the heart grow weary.

Still, I can remember how exciting it felt to tour the Queen’s campus when I was in Grade 12. Seated under the spiral staircase and sturdy wooden paneling of Stauffer Library, my dull Calculus homework suddenly seemed interesting and important. Even under the grizzled slush of mid-March, the elegant limestone and tree-lined boulevard of University Avenue looked like a magical setting torn from the pages of a dark academia novel or my Pinterest board—not just the same-old, same-old backdrop to my dreary morning commute to class. When I started my first year at Queen’s, this feeling of excitement persisted: every day felt new and exciting, every day alive with possibility. Even mundane tasks, like doing my laundry in the Chown basement machines or grabbing dinner at the Lenny dining hall, felt like fun little adventures.

When I say I want to (un)settle into my semester, I mean that I want to re-awaken myself to all the possibilities for wonder and joy that I overlook when I focus on the familiarity of routine.

While I appreciate the sense of stability and predictability a routine can give, I also want to take nothing for granted. I don’t want to dismiss the excitement and the possibility of a new term for the promise of a reliable but restrictive “routine.” Instead, I want to re-sensitize myself to all the wonder and excitement of being at school. Instead of hurrying through my assignments and treating them as stressful obligations, I want to relish this last opportunity to study scholarly topics closely and in conversation with other motivated students. I want to enjoy every late night study session at CoGro with friends and cherish every housemate dinner and movie night, no matter how many I’ve enjoyed before. Sometimes, the best way to romanticize your life is just to be fully present in it. Whether this is your first semester at Queen’s or your last, there can always be something new to discover and enjoy.

As much as I hope to establish a routine that lets me effectively manage my time and adequately prepare for my various responsibilities, I also hope to keep my mind and my heart—and maybe even my schedule—open to wonder, change, and surprise.

Here’s to hoping that my last term at Queen’s feels a lot like my first.

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Mariel Matsuda

Queen's U '22

I switched my major from Psychology to English Lit after three years because I realized I was better at reading books than I was at reading people. Big fan of puff-sleeved dresses, good-quality olive oil, and studying to movie soundtracks.