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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Navigating the first year of university can be extremely challenging, stressful and overwhelming. Family, upper years and professors will always provide their opinion on what is best, but the only way to learn is experience. Go to that party, ask questions, do some meal prep and most importantly discover what university life has to offer.

Join Clubs and Socialize

When I was in my first year, it was hard to see where I would fit in due to the variety of social circles available. With the number of sports teams, school clubs and lecture halls full of students, it is easy to get overwhelmed and confused in a place so big. One of my few regrets of my first year is not joining more clubs. Not only is it a great way to meet new people, but it also provides a creative outlet that introduces new topics and hobbies that could be of interest. Clubs are also a great way to network, easy to put on a resume and they host exciting events during the semester for a night off.

Changing Majors Doesn’t Mean Failure

Feeling stressed about a course load and not being interested in the material is very normal and doesn’t equate to failure. Changing majors is more common than many people believe, and seeking assistance or guidance when trying to make that decision is very important. Remember that it’s okay to be unsatisfied by courses and nervous at the thought of being a year behind friends. Is it better to be unhappy for the remainder of university than doing a couple more years of school? Don’t be nervous, if the thought of changing majors has been lingering, explore other interests and ask professors or upper-year students for advice and guidance. Personally, I wish I’d taken more courses not related to my major in my first year to see what the university has to offer, and find other areas that I’m interested in and passionate about.

Use Resources Available at School

At Laurier, the health and wellness centres and gym facilities are just a couple of the resources that are required to be paid for with tuition, so why not take advantage of these resources? The wellness centres provide a wide variety of services and support for physical, emotional and mental health needs. Thinking about talking to a therapist? Give the health and wellness centre a call to book an appointment. Another great resource is the tutoring and help centres available at the university and online. The math help centre for example offers one-on-one aid from TA’s who have aced the course and are always happy to explain concepts or help solve practice problems.  

Wear That Goddamn Sunscreen

Though skincare and self-care are not on every university student’s agenda, it certainly should be. Taking care of my skin makes me feel good, and accomplishing a simple task like putting on sunscreen makes me feel motivated to accomplish more important goals during the day. Sunscreen is essential in an everyday skincare routine and provides numerous benefits such as reducing the risk of skin cancer and aging.

Stop Cancelling Lectures

I completely believe in taking a day off to focus on mental wellness but deciding to skip lectures every day is simply not the play. Missing one lecture in university can equate to missing one week of high school, so it is imperative that lecture material is understood and being followed.

Yes, everyone has various learning styles, but I strongly believe that attending lectures forces me to try to understand course content and make connections between the material and assignments. A classroom environment is also a valuable source for opportunities and information that may not be provided on a course webpage. For example, many professors provide exam question hints, take up practice problems or help analyze various scenarios to help better understand the material presented in the textbook and course readings. Learning how to prepare for a lecture and post-lecture studying is also challenging. Try different things such as going through the textbook before a lecture to get a good grasp of the material, or maybe going through slides before the lecture and reading the textbook after to get clarification on topics.

Celebrate Small Victories

Every small accomplishment leads me to my final goal and destination. If I worked out today, I treat myself with a self-care night or if I completed an assignment, I go out with my friends to a bar. University life is not all about studying and achieving academic success, it is also about making new friendships and discovering new interests and hobbies. Although I didn’t celebrate many small accomplishments in my first year, I have noticed a severe improvement in my mood when I’m content with myself and my own actions.

Thank you for reading about some of the things I wish I did in my first year of university. I hope I was able to share my perspective and thoughts on common first-year mistakes and encourage others to take every opportunity to gain new experiences!

Isha Pabla

Wilfrid Laurier '24

Writing has always been a passion of Isha's, and while pursuing a major in business and computer science, she finds it wonderful to be able to exercise her creativity and activism with Her Campus. Isha enjoys writing about social justice issues, community engagement and social wellness.
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