Three Things I Learned from my First Semester of University

Six months ago, I moved out from the cozy suburbs of Markham to London to begin my time at Western University. Never did I expect my life to undergo the transition it did, despite the conversations I had with current university students about their transitions. As I look back onto my successes and failures from my first semester here, I’ve compiled a few things I learned. So, here’s 3 things I learned from my first semester in university.

Life will only get busier and busier, so value the time you have now.

I’ve never felt as if I had so much and so little time in my life at once. My transition from high school to university gave me a tremendous amount of freedom and independence, but it also felt sparse at the same time. With so much constantly going on in university, time flew by insanely fast for most of my peers and I. Every week there’s always something interesting happening, whether it be university-wide events, social gatherings, bar nights, or club meetings – and sometimes, less interesting events like assignments and midterms. The most worrying part for me is, I’m barely through my first year in university, and I’ve heard it only gets busier and busier. So this semester I’m going to try to enjoy my time more.

Don’t procrastinate. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t procrastinate.

This can’t be reinforced enough. I was told this at least five times before I came to university, yet when it came to my first midterm, the adage seemed to have completely slipped out of my mind. In the week leading up to my first university midterm, I went to club events, hung out with friends, and relaxed in my spare time. I thought to myself, I learned this stuff in high school, the midterm shouldn’t be hard. And so on the day of my exam, which was to take place at 7pm, I started studying at noon. Lo and behold, it was probably one of the worst decisions I’d ever made. There was plenty of content I not only didn’t cover in school, but plenty more that I forgot, and I ended up almost failing the exam. Throughout the rest of the semester, I had to work really hard to pull my grade back up. The point is, regardless of the subject, don’t procrastinate if you want to finish university in four years!

Don’t be afraid to meet new people, regardless of their age or perceived intelligence.

University is an amazing place to meet so many new people from diverse walks of life. Here at Western, I’ve met so many other freshman throughout my first semester, many of them during Frosh Week. But one thing I initially struggled with was talking to senior students I looked up to. You’ll find – if you haven’t already – plenty of extremely successful people at Western, and many in positions you’d perhaps like to be in one day. At least that’s what I found fairly quickly. When I first approached these individuals, I was terrible at it. I was too formal, I couldn’t genuinely connect with them, and I wasn’t personable. I wouldn’t say I’m exceptional at it now, but I’ve definitely learned to treat these individuals just like you would with any other person. Obviously make sure you’re respectful but don’t be too stiff. Sure, they might be extremely smart, have great internships lined up, and seem like they can do everything, but at the end of the day, they’re people just like you. Not all of them want to be defined by their internships, by their grades, or by their career paths. They’re people at the end of the day, and most if not all want to be treated as one. Ultimately, by learning to treat individuals I looked up to as I would with friends, I made genuine, lasting friendships along the way.

Altogether, I think it’s fair to say my first semester of university was a wild ride of learning about myself and others. I never would’ve imagined I would be thrusted into such an exciting, hectic environment all at once, but it’s been an amazing experience overall. Feel free to comment if you found any of the tips useful or relatable, or if you have any takeaways of your own!