How Being A University Student Has Taught Me Resilience 

Being a student, and especially a student at UW, can be extremely difficult. There are academic expectations, social expectations, and worst of all unattainable personal expectations. In four seemingly short years, there is A LOT that can knock you down. At times it can be discouraging and sometimes it really makes me wonder why I am here and if in the long run this will all be worth it. Don’t worry this article is not as dark and twisted as it sounds right now...


(^me when the elevator in rez would break and I would be forced to walk up five whole terrible flights of stairs...) 


BUT, and this is a major BUT, I know that these experiences as a university student will also help me grow. What I learn here, living in Waterloo, attending classes, being a Warrior (did I really just call myself a Warrior…) will shape who I am when I walk across the convocation stage in, hopefully, 2 years. 

It is important to realize what these struggles we students face teach us to be strong and that we can learn and grow from them. For me, I feel so much more resilient then I was at age seventeen and starting here at UW. I mean I still cry when there is any minor inconvenience in my life but hey, baby steps! 

Here are a few things I have had to face as a university student that has taught me how to be resilient in situations that make you want to wrap yourself in a blanket and never leave your bed. Okay, that sounded way too specific, it’s almost as if I spent an entire first semester doing just that…. 


(^are you really though?) 


Overcoming Tragedy:

I had been lucky enough that in my seventeen years of life before entering university I experienced very little tragedy and trauma. However, when I came to UW, I felt like terrible things were happening left and right. Car crashes, overdoses, deaths, accidents, students dropping out, students being kicked out - I started racking up a really bad list of tragic events that were all happening in the very place I was now meant to call home. 

It was so shocking to me as an impressionable seventeen-year-old that this was my new life. Hearing terrible news than having to move on because I’ve got to make it to an 8:30 am lecture became the norm. But along the way, I realized that this is also very realistic - bad things happen all the time. I needed to learn how I could cope with news like a student suicide in residence, the residence I lived in, and how I would react. I built my own strategies and I taught myself how to unpack my feelings, understand the situation, and try my best to just keep going. 


(^describe first year in 4 words…)


Personal Downfalls:

I came here with an open mind - I never even toured the campus in high school so I really had no idea what to expect. It’s easy to say that university will be the place you thrive - I mean you’ve done all your research, you’ve got your cute (but totally unnecessary) dorm accessories, and you have enough coloured gel pens to last you through undergrad. What could go wrong? But the reality is nothing prepares you to be a university student. I have never been so challenged in my life and I was one of those eager high schoolers who did her research. 

I was sure that I wouldn’t be like ‘those university students’ who don’t go to the gym, eat junk for all three meals, and stay up all night cramming for exams in classes that they don’t fully understand. But here I am, third year, and doing exactly that. It can be quite upsetting to become the very person you sought out not to be. But hey, it can only go up from here, right? 

(^me after eating a bag of chips for lunch and then wondering why I can’t concentrate in class - oops!) 


Bad Grades, Bad Days:

When I first arrived at UW I knew my plan: undergrad, masters, Ph.D. - I was going all the way! But that's easy to say when the only real work you have done as a teenager is perusing different programs online and calculating how much money you need to save to get there. I am a hard worker but I was rudely awakened when I attended my first lecture and read the syllabus. The expectations for students here are HIGH and I really had to step it up. 

I remember getting a 3/10 on a quiz in first year and crying for an embarrassing amount of time. I was dehydrated afterwards, if that gives you an idea of the amount of tear flow. This quiz probably accounted for 2% of my overall grade MAX but I was completely destroyed. I was so discouraged because I had studied hard, even met with a group of classmates before to go over content, but still did so poorly. Sometimes it really does be like that though. 

So guess what we do? We MOVE ON! One grade does not define you, at all. It can seem like that one mark will be written all over your face when you go for job interviews but no one has to know. Acknowledge your mistakes, try to fix them, and do better next time. Bad grades don’t have to turn into bad days. 

Remember when Big Sean said “Last night took an L, but tonight I bounce back” well I FELT that. The best way to bounce back from a bad grade is to ace the next thing - prove yourself wrong! 


(^I take all my advice from Oprah and I think you should too…)


These experiences as a UW student have helped me to become resilient to some of the toughest situations someone can face. I feel prepared to leave the university bubble and test out the big scary world on my own or at least I think I am ready. 

So I guess this is a thank you to university? You tried to knock me down but here I am, halfway done my degree and THRIVING! So HA! 


(^all I want to be TBH!) 


Hope this helped you Warriors - just remember university is not your entire life but it is an important time so, just enjoy it and learn as much as you can!