A Whole New World

A Whole New World

Tips you’ll need to survive your first year at U of T

Samantha Parmasar CONTRIBUTOR

Photo: NBC News.

My transition to university was no simple task, but it allowed me to be more prepared (kind of) to face the next three years ahead. I’ve learnt a lot about how to navigate my life at the University of Toronto (U of T) from my first-year experience, whether it be finding a place on campus to study, eating healthy, making new friends, or how to de-stress during not-so-peaceful times of the semester. Here are some of my tips to help you make your transition to university life a bit smoother!

Make friends, but still find time to call home! Sitting next to different people in your classes by simply saying hi, joining clubs on campus, and going to events held by your college/residence are great ways to meet new people. This can help you start friendships and create a new support system for yourself. However, if you’ve left your home to come live on residence, the feeling of homesickness can hit hard sometimes, especially if you’ve moved from another country and you’ve left your main support system behind. Call home whenever you get the chance, so you can catch up with your parents and friends. In times of homesickness, a FaceTime call can make distance disappear.

Get involved! For some people, the university workload can be intimidating and can make you feel like you won’t have enough time for both studying and extracurricular activities. This isn’t true! There are so many clubs and things to do on campus that aren’t extremely time-consuming and may even be something that you find really fun and relaxing. It’s also an awesome way to make friends and new connections. There are an infinite number of clubs at U of T, so you can definitely find one related to your interests! Being an active part of your community whether it be at your residence, college, faculty, or in clubs will feel rewarding and can really help with making U of T feel more like your home.

The Freshman 15 is REAL. It’s easy to reach for unhealthy snacks during a late night studying session or buy fast food when you didn’t get a chance to have lunch at home. To avoid developing unhealthy eating habits while studying, try keeping healthier snacks in your room such as trail mix, hummus and crackers, fruit such as blueberries (great brain food), apples, bananas, cereal, or even oatmeal. Also, try to grab a fruit to snack on during the day before you leave residence or your house. Better eating habits combined with exercising can help you avoid gaining that unwanted 15 pounds and will also help you concentrate better in class, not to mention improve your mood! Exercising is a great way to relieve stress, increase your energy levels, and recharge your brain for your next study session.

De-stress! Some people are naturals when it comes to having a balance between schoolwork and doing fun things, but for others — like myself — this can sometimes be a challenge. U of T has so many recreational activities taking place every day so it’s hard not finding something fun to do. Even if you’re not on campus, go out for coffee, take a walk with a friend, or check out the latest events happening in Toronto. It’s important to create a balanced lifestyle for yourself while at university, as it’ll play an important part in your overall wellness and emotional state. As for me, I love going to drop-in fitness sessions at Hart House and exercising at the gym after a long day of classes or grabbing food with a friend.  

Academics. Don’t be discouraged by failure or if some things don’t work out exactly the way you planned. University can be tough sometimes, but it helps to remember your long-term goals and the bigger picture. It’s important to remember that this is part of the process and there are alternative routes you can take to reach your success. For instance, not doing as well as you hoped to do in a class or dropping a course because of a not-so-great grade can feel defeating and discouraging, but giving it a second try can help you establish a better foundation for your future courses! No one wants to experience failure, but from failure we learn how to be better in the future.

I hope these tips are useful and help you have your best university experience. Have an awesome first year at U of T and good luck. Most importantly, remember to make every day count!