A Message to Future First Years (Part II)

My time as a first year university student is coming to an end and exams are coming full throttle but I enjoy ignoring my school work (or maybe I’m self medicating with this blog to relieve stress – who knows!). As promised I’m writing my advice to future first years, but first I want to give you some insight on the school I am enrolled in.

I’m currently stu(dying) French and English at York University, Glendon Campus and studying Education at the Keele Campus. I’m apart of a 6 year program – 4 year honours bachelor in arts and 2 years bachelor in education. York is a big school with approximately 53,000 students enrolled in 2014. Although Glendon on the other hand is very… quaint… with enrolment at approximately 3,000 students. It is 100% a bilingual school and profs take french very seriously here (hence why I have to take summer school to get to their standards). It’s a chill environment but I do have a problem with how small it is at times. Class sizes are at the most 60 kids, very few kids stay on campus during the weekend and you see the same faces everyday even if you want to avoid human interactions. Nonetheless, I have very much enjoyed my first year of university but it did take work especially because I am studying away from home and living away from everything that was familiar to me. I guess I’m writing this in hopes of helping those with their transition into university next year.

So here are Vince Pelaia’s tips to a smooth and fun first year!

  1. Do Frosh (or whatever your school may call it)! I was my highlight because I got to have fun, embarrassed myself and meet friends. We still laugh about the lip-sync battle and how amazing my performance was (he said sarcastically). In all seriousness it’s so much fun and friends you make during that time will become your best friends.                                                  img_0713
  2. Try to have Fridays off! I was lucky enough to have one morning class on Thursdays and Fridays off and that extended weekend made my life so easy! It gave me time to do school work but also have fun.
  3. Get one of those big calendars from the school bookstore. I didn’t and that was an honest mistake. I tried a day planner but only used it for like a month and then moved on to my phone which becomes a distraction. I need a big visual of things that I have to do so I’ll be investing in that next year.
  4. If you don’t do the readings make sure you go to class and take lots of notes those days (there will be a lot of them). BUT! If all the lecture notes are posted online you don’t have to go (but still go if it’s discussion oriented or if attendance is mandatory).
  5. Stay on top of your work if you have three essays due the same week but have three weeks to work on them make fake deadlines for them and then you’ll finish them on time but also stress free (unless they are philosophy essays, those are stressful).
  6. Don’t focus all your time on school. We are still kids and kids need to have fun so go to a party, pub night, game night, coffee shop. Remember you don’t need alcohol to have fun (although it may make for fun stories).
  7. You will go through some kind of weight change (my now formed double chin is proof of this). Don’t stress about weight gain. Your body is readjusting to a new routine and the important thing is to make sure you eat well (or as well as you can if you’re on meal plan) and try to exercise. The same goes for weight loss. Your diet is very important because it’s what gives you energy and if your not eating well it will reflect in all aspects of your life so eat those veggies, get your protein and all the important nutrients you need.
  8. Say good-bye to your sleep schedule! Some days I found myself asleep at 11pm and other days 4am but I had to wake up between 7 and 8:30 no matter what! On the plus size you have 2 new designer bags right under your eyes!
  9. Due to your lack of sleep you’ll probably start drinking tea, coffee, energy drinks whatever it takes (don’t drink energy drinks). I found the the best thing was green tea and lots of water though. This goes back to trying to stay healthy! Also water makes your skin look great!
  10. You will probably get sick often, especially living on res. I shared a nasty washroom with dirty people for just under 8 months and the cleaning team did not clean well… it’s safe to say that that was a bacteria culture and I’m gonna have to do an immune system fix.
  11. Again have fun! Go on that tinder date (you may get a free meal out of it)! Go break the bank on a new outfit! Go explore your surroundings! Every city has a new adventure just a few blocks away so put those books down and enjoy it.
  12. Go to the formal events your school offers. It may be program based, residence based or in my case just school based (it’s small remember that). It’s fun to dress up and dance! (they are also usually open bar).
  13. Explore new music! Music helps me study and my taste has grown so much in the last few months and yours will too. Grow an appreciation for all genres because they can change your mood or even motivate you so much.
  14. Open your heart. If you find someone you genuinely like take that shot in the dark. If things don’t work then you either have a new friend or you don’t. It’s no big deal.
  15. A 4.0 GPA is not the end all be all. Sure some people need it and I understand that so try your hardest in school, but always remember that there’s always a lesson to be learned with a bad mark.
  16. You don’t need a MacBook to be successful. I mean I am slightly guilty of owning a MacBook Pro but mine is about 5 years old and there’s a green pixel that shows up on the screen when I watch Netflix (It’s very distracting). Any computer will suffice in University. Also don’t rely on computers. I actually took most of my notes in a note book and found it quite useful. On your first week of class bring both because you never know which you’ll like more. (I used my computer in literature but note books in linguistics and french, that’s what I felt more comfortable with).
  17. Join a club or two. I love being involved and even though I’m not apart of any clubs right now I have a few that I want to be apart of. They are also an easy way to make friends because you all already share a common interest.  
  18. If you move away you’re gonna do things behind your parents back and probably tell them about it after the fact…
  19. Understand that you might not stay in your program and that’s okay! The most important thing is to enjoy what you’re studying and if you don’t make a change. If university isn’t your thing don’t force yourself to stay because the most important thing is your own happiness.
  20. You’re going to make amazing new friends that’ll last a lifetime but also form closer bonds with your old friends.
  21. At the end of the day studying is very important. I know I said that you should have fun but the important thing is to actually do your work because this is your future and it’s all in your hands.
  22. Finally, remember that it’s okay to be selfish. Do things to make yourself happy and not others. This is your life and your future that you’re working towards and you shouldn’t have to try to make others happy if it means you’re sacrificing your own happiness.                 




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