Going to university is terrifying, even for me despite the fact I did my last year of high school in Canada. Somehow people forget to mention the fear, between monologues on how exciting it is to live by yourself or be awarded some kind of elusive freedom. This is not the case for everyone, but as I clutched to my sister’s arm as she finished settling me in to my dorm, it dawned on me that i had become an ‘adult’ and it made my stomach churn. Enough of the dramatic introduction, these were some of things I learned in my first year of university.
1. Tax in Canada will be the bane of your existence – Never before in my life have I had to add an extra 13% (im not exactly sure how correct that number is) on anything I was buying. I was stupefied to find that VAT was not included in the price on the little tag but could be any number when arriving at check out. (This is mainly directed to people who like me, cannot calculate an extra percentage on a number mentally).
2. Snow is not cute – Snow is gorgeous, it really is, its like magic, from inside. Apart from that its mushy and slimy, and in Montreal its in TONNES, so imagine my horror when your practically ploughing to get to class on time when the snow removing machine cannot beat the trickling of the snow flakes. Oh and you will fall, yes I was one of those people who would burst out in fits of laughter when others would slip and fall. When karma caught up with me, I slipped and fell on my behind HARRDD, the kind of hard that some guy rushed up to me and asked if I was alright. Yes, I am yet to live down the shame. In retrospect, it is really unkind and cruel to laugh at other people’s misfortunes.
3. Cheap is damn expensive – do not be CHEAP when buying snow related gear. Now I am a sucker for the word sale, but you will pay for it when the temperature clocks -30 and you decided on the cheaper coat instead of the heavy duty (kind of ugly) coat. That is also in reference to shoes, leave your frugality in the Fall because unless you would like an odd number of toes, buy a good pair of snow shoes.
4. Lingo – Apparently ‘romcom’ is a romantic comedy. And soda is pop. Oh and crisps are chips and chips are fries.
5. It’s okay to cry a lot.
6. Someone is always worse off than you – I know this may come off as sadistic and a little dark but its the truth. Being an Economics major these are the few things that keep you coming back to class when you are debating changing your major to education (no disrespect). So the point is, fake it until you make it. Don’t be the girl/guy who is obviously devastated by their grade on their midterm, or intimidated by that guy who seems to be answering questions like he stole the cheat sheet.
7. Ask questions – Now I am not one to throw my hand up and ask what the formula means, but if your nothing like me ask questions because you do not want to pretend like you know (been there) and realize on the exam that your a fool and a chicken. What works for me is going up after class and asking the professor to repeat well the whole lecture in English or what I did not understand. Take advantage of office hours. Oh and I hate that guy who’s ALWAYS at the professors office hours trying to be chummy or pretend like he was best friends with Adam Smith and knows the secrets to the universe. That guy is a douche and the professor hates him ( I would know because the prof told me) as well as the whole class.
8. You may question some people’s acceptance to university – This is solely in regards to the struggle of being an international student and specifically from Africa. I cannot promise you that someone will not ask you why your English is so good or because you do not have tribal markings on your face or are casually carrying animal skin on your back, thus dispute your being African. Refuse the urge to slap them with the back of your hand or assault them with your words, instead laugh because you are better than that and one day Sub-Saharan Africa will rule the world.
9. Parties – When invited to a party this consists of beer drinking, loud music (sometimes no music), and Instagram not dancing. If you want to dance go to a club.
10. I am yet to see a beaver. Yes, I am very disappointed.
11. Be yourself – I think that’s the best advice I have ever gotten no matter how corny it sounds. Also because I loathe fake people.
12. Have a good group of friends – the ones to go party with, laugh at others with, talk about random stuff and friends to rant to.
13. Don’t be a prude – People were not raised like you or have the same values. It’s great that you have opinions, just don’t shove them in everybody’s face whose not like you.
14. Do stufff – I know graduate school requirements are demanding, but be young and see stuff and try lots of things. Be someone aside from your books. Which are very expensive, so keep them well and sell them later.
15. Be comfortable being alone – I get that you are social butterfly but if you cannot be alone, you have issues, face it.
16. Concerts are EXPENSIVE – By now you probably think i’m super cheap because I am always talking about how expensive life is, but when you have a fridge to stock life is put into perspective. I thought my life abroad would consist of jumping from concert to concert reaching to touch Beyonce’s leg. But honey, those people who are close enough to lick musicians, pay for it. But we all know Beyonce is worth every penny.
17. It okay not to have everything figured out, I am coming to terms with the fact I cannot see into the future to see if this degree will really get me that job. Not everyone has it all together, and it’s okay.
18. God is Everyrhing! Everything.
19. Tim Hortons will make you fat. It will. Even their coffee has more milk fat than fat on an actual cow.
20. Final point – if you have hair anything like mine, good luck.
So there it is, that was some of the things I learned in my first year which was amaze-bomb by the way. Oh and don’t apologize for the way you pronounce things, own it baby.
By Nellie Munge – McGill University :p