SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

So, it’s finally here: university, parties, lectures, and sleep deprivation. Your first year of university can simultaneously be daunting and exciting, and it’s important to pay attention to both of those feelings. Let’s start with the big, scary questions. How do you keep up with your classes and how do you make new friends?

The most important thing to remember when you’re staring at that monstrous syllabus or math textbook is to take everything one day at a time, or even one task at a time.

University is a marathon, not a sprint. Think of your work load in terms of what you need to do right now. Planning ahead is good, but don’t get too wrapped up in the homework of the future, lest you get to the point where doing anything at all feels too intimidating.

Keep up with your readings as best you can, and learn to distinguish between essential readings and supplementary material. Remember to take breaks, and don’t let your self-worth be boiled down to productivity levels. You are so much more than that.

Spending time with new friends is just as important as getting that one extra reading done for the day. If you struggle to let go of homework-related guilt, try thinking of time spent away from the books as a recharge that’s necessary in order to keep up a good studying pace. It also helps to take courses that genuinely interest you whenever you can.

Imagine back to when you were at your first orientation event, chanting for a school that you had only just joined, and looking around at the upper years dressed like camp counsellors, no alcohol in sight, wondering if you should just hide in your room until the week’s over. You didn’t. This is because orientation week isn’t about the events themselves; it’s about making connections with people which you can explore throughout your time at U of T.

This feeling of wanting to hide can creep up throughout the duration of your first year. You may enjoy the whole experience, but don’t sweat it if you feel out of place. I guarantee that many of the kids around you are feeling the same way.

Also, remember to take advantage of communal spaces like cafeterias where you can get to know different people. Everyone is eager to make friends, and meals are a great way to find the time to do so.

As trite as it sounds, friendships need nurturing, so put effort into them and give new relationships a chance to grow. Make time for building up your support network. It’ll be worth it!

You’ll hear it a million times, but it genuinely is a great idea to join a club. Join the quidditch team or debate club, or audition for that play you saw advertised around campus. It’ll help you to carve out time from your schedule for self-exploration and social opportunities.

Remember that this is only the beginning. So, push yourself when you need to and listen to your intuition when it’s time to slow down. Follow the pieces of advice that resonate. Don’t stress it, you have four years to expand your interests and develop your character. Above all, you need to take care of yourself during this adjustment period.

You have a whole chapter of your life ahead of you to learn more about the world and yourself. If there’s something you know you’re interested in, go for it. If not, it could be cool to try out something new.

Enjoy your time at U of T. Validate your fears, but focus on your excitement. A school is what you make of it, and this one has a treasure chest of opportunities just waiting for you to turn the key.

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