What I Learned in First Year

  • Kathy Hu
  • |
  • Apr 28, 2017

Your first year of university is a whirlwind of experiences. As final exams are fast approaching, it became apparent that these past eight months have truly taught me a lot. These lessons have extended beyond the confines of lecture halls and labs. While I have had the opportunity to accumulate new knowledge and expand upon my educational interests, first year has provided me with immense personal growth. Although we all experience university differently, I believe we can all agree that university is so much more than academic learning. Here are just some of the life lessons that I will take into my future.


            Life is about balance: The difference in workload between university and high school is quite significant. I have had to work harder than ever to keep up with my schoolwork and maintain the grade expectations I had set for myself. But what I have come to realize is that all work and no play is not the way I want to remember my time here at Western. While my grades are still important and will impact my future, it is also the memories I make with my friends that I will take with me after graduation. Moreover, your mental and physical health go hand in hand. We tend to neglect at least one of them during our busiest times. However, going to the gym or just taking a walk to clear your mind does wonders for your mood and productivity.


            It’s okay to fail: This lesson is one of the hardest to learn. Everyone is afraid of failure. But once we can overcome failure, it becomes evident that life continues on. I learned how to handle failure and most importantly, how to learn from it. Once I realized I could overcome failure and continue on with my life, I became less afraid to take risks. I suddenly felt like I opened up a world of opportunity for myself. This past year, I ventured out of my comfort zone and tried new activities and courses that were out of my comfort zone. And through this experience, I discovered a new passion that I hope to pursue in my future.


            Friendships are an interesting phenomenon: One of the major realizations that dawned upon me when arriving at university was that I now had to make a new group of friends. Through these past eight months I have not only had to make new friends but maintain existing friendships. Friendships do interesting things.  I have rekindled relationships that have been dormant for years as well as become friends with people I would never have expected to. As for my friends back home, I learned that true friendships stand the test of time and distance. While I’m no longer as close with the majority of my friends, certain relationships have proved resilient despite gaps in communication. So if you’re nervous about leaving your friends or having to make new ones at university, rest assured that everything will work itself out in the end.


            Nobody knows what they are doing either: I used to find myself intimidated by people who seemed to have their lives put together: clean rooms, organized schedules, a general direction in life. But what I have come to realize is that while some individuals may seem like everything in their lives have fallen into place, in reality we all have something we struggle with. If you feel that you’re the only one having trouble adjusting to university life or feeling homesick, rest assured that many of your friends feel the same way. If you’re struggling with choosing a program, there are many others like you who are also still discovering their passions in life. The most important lesson to take away is to not be intimidated or discouraged by the unknown. Everyone has their own path to follow and it can cause more harm than good to compare with others.


  • HBA