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As Another Chapter Comes To An End — An Open Letter to First Year Me

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

As the last of my classes start to come to an end, the impending doom of convocation and life after university is hitting rather hard. This is an open letter, mostly to me, at the end of my university life, talking back to the girl I once was. We all came into university unable to predict what would happen within the next couple of years. We entered with somewhat similar fears of adjusting to a life that is entirely new. Hopefully, this letter back to my first-year self prepares you for all the things that could potentially happen in your university experience.

Finding good friends and being able to fit into a culture that is seemingly different from my own used to be a great fear. However, through all the ups and downs, we were able to still make it all the way to the other side. We’ve lived through so many changes that it still doesn’t feel real that this chapter will now soon end — such as the true innocence of life in first year that has disappeared over time. We’ve now been through loss, love, and life.

First year was everything we thought it would be: increasingly lonely and difficult at first, but the people you met were the ones you needed to help you through. The memories are ones that fuelled the fire for the coming years as we worked through the darkest of nights and the most troubling of times. The friends that we made in first year would have gotten us through the times when we thought we wouldn’t be here: in our fourth year, at our final exam season.

Though first year was knowingly difficult in some ways, it was also the most unexpected of times. The fall term went by faster than we thought it would, but it reenergized us to come back and explore the relationships that we had started. Winter term of 2020 was one that threw us into a shock.

Friends were easier made in the next semester, with people who were in the same residence, some who we passed by every day the last couple of terms. The friends we make during university are a chosen family, especially those that grow as the years have gone by. When things are good, we usually expect the bad, and although it was coming, it wasn’t what anyone could’ve expected. The end of first year came a few months before we could even anticipate it.  

The abrupt end of first year was not what anyone expected; it might have been a blessing in disguise. We got to spend time with those whom we love before it was too late. The heartbreak of being separated is one that we would have to find a way to get used to. COVID-19 continued to rage on for a couple of years, ruining lots of the plans that we previously made. Beginning as a little flu that the world thought would have been contained by the summer, it stole nearly two years off our university life.

We left before the end of Winter 2020, and finally stepped back into our normal lives at the beginning of Winter 2022.

Those years might have gone by in a blur, but it didn’t stop the story from going on. The fears that we once had in first year had evolved and changed to the point of no return. We have people who would always be there for us, through the ups and the downs — people who would gladly listen to all the things that are going wrong without looking bored or redirecting to something new.

The trajectory of life within the university was both unimaginable and unpredictable. Though we were essentially robbed of a couple years of our university experience, we did eventually get the chance to make the memories we hear about from graduates — the stories of bad roommates, love and heartbreak, and most importantly, stories of sleepless nights that were filled with laughter, music, twirls, and endless talking.

To those who are graduating this year: we did it — all whilst doing all things that our first-year selves feared doing.

To those in your first year: you got this, and we’ll see you on the other side.

Nisha Nararidh

Waterloo '23

Hi! I'm Nisha, an International Student who is currently studying at the University of Waterloo. I am double majoring in English Literature and Language alongside a Major in History, in addition to that I am also taking a minor in Human Resource Management. I love to share my stories and how I adapted to the Waterloo lifestyle.