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Level Up: How to Win at Transitioning to University

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new” – Socrates

For most of us, change is a very confusing and unfamiliar time. We stress ourselves out trying to figure out the best way to approach it or prepare for it but sometimes we just have to let play out and see what is in store for us. For example, moving from tricycle to a bike with training wheels to then a real big kid bike was probably a scary experience, at least for me. Although it took me longer than the average person to transition to a regular bike, I have some battle scars to brag about, some great stories out of the experience and am able to now ride without help.

Transiting from high school to university is a very exciting time because it is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. No matter where you go or what program you take, university is a time for self-discovery, trying new things and having a fun adventure. There are ups and downs but in the end, it all pays off as you will leave those four years with a degree, some lifelong friendships and a bunch of unforgettable memories. Like learning to ride a bike, you will also have battle scars to show but by preparing yourself for this exciting journey as best as possible, you could avoid some battles altogether.

The series of endless questions we stress about lead us to get nervous or intimidated by our new home but here are a few of the most prevalent concerns and how to deal with them:

1. What to Expect

Moving away to university may be the first time you are away from home for a long time. No more Mom and Dad reminding you to wake up, finish your work, do your laundry or show some manners. However, Mom or Dad probably raised you such that all those important skills are now habits and you are able to do them independently, right? Creating a weekly schedule for yourself like you would do at home is a great way to feel more accomplished, less overwhelmed, and keep Mom and Dad happy.

The best thing to remember coming to university is that every student in your year are all in the exact same boat. You will have the same work to do, face similar stresses and live within the same area of each other. Instead of being intimidated by your peers, use each other as support systems whether that is helping each other with school work or grabbing dinner at the caf together. When you are getting to know people, keep in mind that if you feel nervous, everyone else is definitely just as nervous, even if they don’t show it!

Finally, in high school, you may have been the shining star in your class and flew by with ease getting highest grades possible. Some people will get to university, get back their first assignment and be shocked how they performed below their standard. But, do not panic! On average, first year marks are usually lower than what you expect or are used to. Once you get used to the way grading works and how professors like their work presented, you will be successfully back on track to your goals. Just always remember to be resilient and learn from any experience you face.

2. What to Bring

In my opinion, my dorm room became my new safe zone and I wanted to feel as comfortable as possible in my space. Whether you want your new room to reflect back home or you want to recreate that post on Pinterest you saw months ago, this is your new area to make your masterpiece.

First of all, all your essentials are coming with you. These are all your favourite clothes or things that make you feel confident and feel good. Rock those red converse, wear that whacky hat. One of my favourite things about coming to university was that I no longer had to wear a uniform like high school and I was able to express myself a little more in my daily wear. Yes, I did frequently where my pajamas to the dining hall but that is completely allowed!

As for what to bring for school, all your stationary like favourite pens, pecils and sticky notes is key because making your notes pretty and colourful was my favourite thing to do and helped me stay motivated while studying. In the first couple weeks of classes, your profs will give you a list of textbooks for each class that you are able to purchase from the book store or upper year students.

Additionally, bringing things that represents what you like to do or who you are is a really nice way to be creative and relaxed. For me, I hung my Tom Brady jersey and Wedding Crashers poster on my wall because they reminded me of my two favourite things to watch back home. I recommend bringing lots of pictures, stuffed animals, books, musical instruments or anything else that makes you, you.

3. What to Do

University is awesome because although you are there to do school and learn stuff, it is a place to grow as a person and do things every day that you enjoy or may learn to love. In high school, there were always plenty of teams and clubs to join and many ways to get involved. University is not much different but, multiply that number of high school extracurriculars by infinity and that is how many ways you are able to get involved around campus! However, you are now responsible to go out there and get involved. Mom cannot sign up you up for soccer or dance but rather you have full control over your activities.

Schedule your days such that you are able to do at least one thing every day to de-stress and have fun. There are an endless amount of intramural sports to play and I strongly suggest to try something new! My residence floor created an inner tube water polo team, which I had never even heard of, and it was another thing I looked forwards to doing every week. You will meet so many amazing people outside of class and in other programs when getting involved but you have to take the first step and get out there.

4. Who to Be

YOURSELF! Every class, extracurricular or lazy day you have, you must always to be yourself. Even if you unsure of who you are right now, university is the most magical time to discover your passions, interests and goals. But, it all begins when you are confident enough to share your true self to the world. Never forget you are an awesome person and all the other awesome people at school want to meet you! The best friendships I formed this year were because both parties were completely authentic and one hundred percent their weird selves.

Feeling overwhelmed or nervous about the experience is completely normal because it will be a big change in lifestyle for the present time. If you are able to hold onto your unique personality, your transition into university will be filled with wonders. Every university brings together thousands of people with thousands of different personalities and interests. Make your mark and stand out because only you can be you!

Now that high school is over and done, your new exciting journey will begin in September. You are ready for it even if you do not believe it right now. It may seem like the four years are like an eternity to be away and on your own but trust me, they fly by. First year was hands down the best year of my life because of the experiences I had, the things I participated in and the unreal people I got to meet. Get excited, get ready and embrace this tremendous change!

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