Some advice for Mt. A’s first year students

As I finish up my undergrad, the person I was in first year can be difficult to remember at times, but I am always reminded when I have to use my Mountie card and see that little picture of myself from frosh week. I must have felt out of my element enough to keep my enormous red Windsor Hall shirt on for the picture, in case it turned out I wasn’t allowed to take it off. It’s so easy to be all nerves about being in an unfamiliar environment. For a lot of first year students, they are not only at a new school, but they are also away from their families, their friends, their homes and hometowns for the first time. There is a lot that I would tell my first year self now, and I was curious to find out what others finishing their degrees would tell their first year self.

Many students simply have tips for dorm life: Liz Kent implored new students to “get a fuckin’ printer that works and don’t let anyone else use it ever.”

Crystal Chettiar suggested buying some memory foam and check out the other side of your mattress before you accept it as your bed for the year (personally, I would not do that, because what you don’t know can’t hurt you, right?).

Ian Malcolm wisely reminded us not to try to get ‘our money’s worth’ at meal hall. You might end up not being able to even look at your former favourite foods by the end of the year (for me, that was pizza).

Steven Sutcliffe suggests that you can save some money on booze by going to the bottle-your-own-wine place in town.

Maggie Higgins reflected on lanyards, suggesting that mountie cards fit just as well into wallets, which do not scream “frosh.”

My advice for dorm life is simply not to spend your entire year only walking in between your dorm, meal hall. and your classes. If you want to shuffle around in your pyjamas, studying, partying, eating, and sleeping, that’s your choice, and honestly, sometimes doing that is fun. Remember though, that you don’t have to always live in a bubble away from the town. There is, believe it or not, fun stuff going on in the rest of Sackville, and it can be rewarding to know the rest of the town. Ask older students what’s going on outside of res. Many of the bars downtown are music venues at night and there are a multitude of coffee shops on Bridge Street to study at when you are tired of the library. 

When you spend time out in town hanging out with variety of people, instead of just your fellow students, you’ll feel more in touch with people at all stages of life—something that helps keep your own dorm and university related problems in perspective. 

Evan Matthews said that “the most important things that you will learn here will be from the people you meet around you, not from any course.”

On the flip side, Lucy Collins warned not to do things that might end up becoming cautionary tales for those around you of what not to do. It is true that the school and town are small, and not a lot gets forgotten. In other words, karma exists here. I once yelled at a teacher, and when the reality of how small this town is actually hit me, I ended up spending the rest of my day hiding in my room. However, even making mistakes can be a form of discovery: educational in a special way that class is not. I learned how to resolve conflicts more effectively from initially stinking at it. So don’t feel pressured to totally be sucked up by school for the next four years, because there are many experiences around you that are also worthwhile, good or bad.

Aislin Hendrix said that “marks are not as important as they seem. The learning, life experience and work ethic you develop on the way are much more valuable.”

Your degree does not have to be a means to some end you’ve already planned out, where you know exactly where you’re going after and what you’re doing. The process of school has its own worth. You will likely find that whatever future you’ve worriedly set for yourself won’t even be what you’re into by the end of your degree. Some of the people who are the happiest and most confident with their degree choices switched from some other program that didn’t work for them. I am currently an arts student, but came to Mount Allison telling everyone that I was going to figure out solar panels. 

The actual schoolwork itself is time consuming, and no one is forcing you to do your work or go to classes. It’s up to you to decide if you really want to be in your program, or secretly get a thrill thinking about starting a pet taxidermy business. If you’re really interested, buckle down and start chugging. No time to procrastinate. However, if you really feel like you’re forcing yourself to do anything, and your eyes glaze over in class, your program or university itself might not be right for you right now. That’s okay,

but it’s better to be honest with yourself about that before you waste too much time.

Steven Sutcliffe, a recent grad, sums it up: you gotta “know when to hold ‘em

and know when to fold ‘em.”

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