“Don’t get overwhelmed by the social life and party scene”, says Sayeh Yousefi in her reflection on the first months at University of Toronto
University is a wonderful experience, no doubt. We are given the boundless opportunities of discovering our passions and exploring our education amidst a community that is truly unique. But it’s also a period that is incredibly overwhelming – not just academically, but socially, emotionally, even physically. Being suddenly immersed in a culture as vibrant as lively as the downtown Toronto area, all whilst experiencing a range of new changes, is not easy to handle.
Moving across the country for one comes with its fair share of struggles; not knowing where to buy groceries, trying to figure out finances, all whilst balancing the strenuous workload of a 6-course university schedule. This scarcely leaves time for getting involved in school activities, maintaining physical fitness, or even having a social life. The only piece of advice I can offer is this: in an age of constant motion and activity, take a single minute to yourself. Close your eyes, turn off your phone, and take 30 seconds to just breathe.
Finding balance in an overwhelming environment
But we’ve all already heard the complains about trying to find balance in an overwhelming environment, so I’m not going to drawl on about all my work and how hard it is to find time for things. I’d rather focus on the positives – how incredible it is that I’m receiving an education of this calibre, in a city as incredible as Toronto, for no cost.
I believe my current situation correlates perfectly with the notion of Western freedom, not limited to Canada but also the United States. This idea that anyone can come to this country with the hopes and demeanour of doing something incredible, and if they work hard enough, they are rewarded. Sounds cheesy, I know, but anything really is possible in a democratic society like Canada.
The true beauty of university is indeed the boundless opportunities. No longer must you feel trapped by the materialistic and childish social conventions of high school, nor must you study something you don’t want to in order to graduate. You are truly free to be yourself, surround yourself with people whose company you enjoy, and to study and involve yourself in whatever your heart desires.
Upon first deciding to write this reflection on my university experience, I thought I’d have much more to say. There hasn’t been a single moment yet where I’ve had absolutely nothing to do, and although each passing day has brought with it new and exciting experiences, nothing has warranted itself an impression lasting enough to serve as a meaningful anecdote. Perhaps the ‘meaningful’ anecdote is the experience as a whole: the people, the environment, the classes, the boundless opportunities that truly make it possible to achieve anything you set your mind to.
This truly is the only time in your life where you are free to explore your passions and mould your education to best suit your aspirations and wishes, don’t let it go to waste. Don’t get overwhelmed by the social life and party scene, at the same time, have your fair share of fun, but don’t spend all day every day going out and drinking, cause you’ll miss out on the more important and life-changing parts of the university experience.