By Megan Jackman
First year: first impressions
Calling all first years! Headlines read: local university attracts droves of learners and lemmings alike! Read all about it! Calling all first years, this piece is for you!
Once again, it’s the time of year when the fall semester begins and our university is blessed with a multitude of new students embarking upon their first year of higher learning. And so begins the plague of the first-year blues.
Some lemmings stray from the pack and remain here to the bitter end of a four-plus year program with the rest of us diehards. Others will join the lemming movement, committing completely heart, soul, mind, and pocketbook in September to later find themselves opting for a quicker route into the “real world” at sight of the first cliff in April.
As a first-year student, I was initially overwhelmed by the university system on a number of levels I too was once a confused lemming. I remember thinking, how will I ever become adept at successfully coping? Where do I pay all these fees? What’s MUNSU and why am I paying them $2 for a Muse? What is a Muse? Wow, I must have thought I was getting some deal on that course Muse 1001.
I wasn’t clueless, I was just uninformed, like many first-year students. I’ll admit it (for those of us who won’t), the transition into university life can often be a drastic one.
For you first-year students, I hope to give you some encouragement that may alleviate the feeling of being engulfed by this giant phage which is university life.
First of all, for those of you who are living on your own, you probably already understand what I mean when I say “vive la Kraft Dinner and Vienna Sausages!” Perhaps some of you are gourmet chefs. But, for any first years who were like me, your record in cuisine-arts up to this point equates to nil.
Now, for those of you who feel intimidated by the MUN-maze which is our campus, do not fear, the colour co-ordinated lines around campus can save you. Second-year psychology student, Micheline Hughes, said “As a first year student, my biggest fear was getting lost on the smallest campus in the country (Grenfell College).” When I would lose my way between classes, I would stop by one of those “you are here” location maps and glance at my watch as if to indicate “I just happen to be meeting someone in this very spot.” Everyone uses this technique at some point or another, don’t deny it!
Then there’s the first year financial-frenzy to deal with. A third-year student, who desires her identity to remain unknown, said, “There was like this big storm cloud of worry. I called my mom in a panic and sobbed, ‘mom I have no money, I don’t know what to do.’ All the things that don’t seem to be a problem now were enormously worrisome in my first year.”
And, I can’t fail to mention social anxieties and pressures probably accompany your current transition. Many of my friends whom I met in university bashfully admit that they spent hours wondering when and if they would find someone to talk to in each new class full of unfamiliar faces.
As for the academics side of it, try not to view university as a catapult thrusting you straight into a world where professors are immediate nemeses and heaping piles of books lead to repetitive brain damage. Don’t buy into scare-tactics. Ms. Hughes said, “In high school your teachers want you to do well, I was worried that professors would not care ... but I’ve found that most professors are actually really helpful.”
I, myself, will proclaim faith in professors as well as the almighty help centres on campus that want to arm you with some serious academic-ammo.
I am now in my third year of university. There are still things that I don’t know about my university. But that means I’ll never outgrow Memorial before it outgrows me! If this all seems a little too cheesy to you, then cast this column on your buddy sitting next to you and joke about what a MUN-loving geek I am. But first, in all seriousness, read my next message.
All of university students experience first year anxieties in some form. Just remember, you will get through it! The university system is not out to get you but, rather, is offering you a boost they even say so on their main web page that reads: “Welcome to Memorial! Find out what we can do for you...”