Everything I Learned in My First Year of University

Let’s start with move-in day. Most people are excited and nervous about moving in alone. This is exactly how I felt: excited, anxious and nervous. To put it simply, I was terrified. A few days went by of being on my own in a new city and not knowing anyone. I started to settle into my new reality. The first thing I had to learn was to put myself out there. Living in a dorm, there were always people around, so that made it easy for me to make friends quickly. Once classes started up, I was able to meet a few people there as well. The scary part was putting myself out there, building up the courage to say hello and then asking others to make plans to hang out. This was lesson number one for me. I learned to be outgoing and confident when talking to others.

The next thing I learned was to manage my time properly. This was something I struggled with often, and sometimes I still do. When midterms came around, they seemed to sneak up on me and I found myself unprepared. I wasn’t used to the course load, which had been a major change from secondary education. For me, university brought more free time and independence. I had to learn how to balance a social life and classwork while living in a dorm. For me, this was not an easy task, as most of the time hanging out with my friends seemed like a lot more fun than completing an assignment or my readings.

A family member said to me, “Go out, even if you don’t feel up to it.” This is still one of the best pieces of advice I have received to this day. Often when I was feeling lazy or shy, I felt like saying no and staying in when I was invited out. It seemed easier to say no than to face the anxiety of going out and meeting new people. Despite being nervous, I sucked it up and went! Taking advantage of the invites only opened up more opportunities for me, and I ended up making friends I that wouldn’t have if I didn’t go. Looking back, learning to say yes to invites only benefitted me, strengthened my relationships with others and gave me great stories to tell when I look back at my university experience.

Finally, I learned to embrace myself. University has been a very welcoming environment for me, where differences are celebrated rather discouraged so everyone molds into a certain image. I learned what interests me, how I like to dress, what I disliked and more. I learned to be unapologetically myself. This will be something that sticks with me in my future; after all, becoming the best version of myself is always something I work towards.

Overall, my first year at university was a great learning experience for me, and I am excited to see how my second year shapes me into who I am becoming.