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What I Learned As A Freshman At The University Of Ottawa

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

The transition from high school to university was a bit overwhelming for me, to say the least. It definitely took some getting used to and plenty of adjustments. Here’s some advice based on what I’ve learned after my freshman year at the University of Ottawa:

Create a set morning/night routine

It’s super easy to fall into a rut while in university (especially as a first year), but creating a morning and night routine provided structure in my day-to-day and helped me feel more composed. Your routine doesn’t have to be long and complex – just come up with a couple of simple things you do each morning and night that help take care of your physical and mental health.

Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes

Being in university comes with a lot of unforeseen challenges and new environments. Everyone—and I mean absolutely EVERYONE—makes mistakes throughout university, so try not to fret on them so much; just learn from them and move on. Poor choices are bound to be made sometimes, and that’s okay!

Aim to create a good work/life balance

School can become overwhelming really quickly, so make sure to create balance in your life. Yes, school is important, but so is taking care of yourself. Make time for friends, family, self-care, and be sure to put your mental health first!

It’s okay to say no to things you don’t want to do

My friends were always partying during our freshman year, which for me, became exhausting really quickly. I used to feel like if I didn’t go, I would be missing out—but that is not the case. It’s better to say no than to be in a situation you’re uncomfortable in. If you don’t feel up for something one time, there will always be another opportunity.

Surround yourself with people who build you up, not tear you down.

This year I definitely chose to surround myself with hookup culture, and a lot of not-so-great people. It is important to remember how many people there are in university. If you don’t like the people you are currently surrounding yourself with, it is better to leave and take time by yourself to find better friends than to stay in the situation you are currently in.

Put effort into your connections from back home

Make sure to keep in contact with friends once you move, call family regularly, and check in back home. One of the best decisions I made this year was to call my family almost everyday. It’s really easy to become caught up in all of your responsibilities, so don’t forget your support system!

Last but not least, have fun!

Join clubs, go to events, maybe party a little… Whatever you do, don’t let what other people may think stop you from having fun. I promise there is something in university for everyone! Joining Her Campus at uOttawa was a step outside of my comfort zone, but it was such an amazing decision! Remember that these four years won’t last forever, so enjoy them while you can.

Emma Hefkey

U Ottawa '26

Emma is a second year criminology student at the University of Ottawa! She loves reading, travelling, art, and spending time with family!