The SLC building and a blue sky with fluffy clouds

Lessons I learned during my first-year of undergrad

by Shannon Schaefer, a second-year journalism student who loves travelling, Netflix, and her cat Alli. Twitter @schaefeer

As of May 2018, I completed my first-year of undergraduate studies at Ryerson University where I am pursuing a Bachelor of Journalism. I am also a Ryerson Student Ambassador – I have spoken to thousands of students as they prepare for the journey that I just completed.  

Here is a look into what I have learned over the last 8 months:

You might not be completely in love with your program, and that is okay.

First-year is often general for students. This gives you a chance to try various classes and figure out what you are good at. I went into this program thinking I was a journalist, simple as that. I left my first-year not knowing if that was completely true but at peace with myself knowing that I have 3 years to figure out who I am and what that means for my future.

When you begin to identify with your program, then you create a wall of certainty around yourself. This may not work in your favour. You will do yourself a favour if you allow uncertainty into your life and allow yourself to learn and change.  Take classes outside of your program, classes that sound exciting and new.

Things are expensive – more expensive than you probably think.

  • There is a service fee on hydro bills that often costs more than hydro itself
  • I am paying more for my internet than I am for my hydro
  • That cool Brita that filters water? That is gonna require bi-monthly filters that cost around $9
  • Yes, even a carton of milk is nearly $5

Save what you can, and always prepare for a rainy day.

A group of students pet a Therapy DogMost of your first-year is figuring yourself out.

New home, new friends, new school – it is a lot to take in. The amount of mental and physical changes you encounter in your first year takes a lot to balance. While I did learn lots of new information during my first year, I learned the most about myself.  

First-year is the most beautiful disaster. Contradicting? Maybe, but what I am trying to say is that first-year is a love-hate relationship. The experiences you will have, the memories you will make, the freedom you gain and the friends you meet will change your life. This journey will result in a full transformation but if you prepare yourself for this change and recognize that change is okay, that it can even be necessary, then you will go through your first-year appreciating even the hardest of moments.  

Enjoy life becoming a mess, so you can rebuild something different.