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(Ava Zwolinkski / The McGill Tribune)

Advice to our younger selves: What we wish we had known

Student Living by

Jackie Houston, Opinion Editor: Find your balance 

During my first year, there were moments when I was caught between choosing to study and going out with friends–and I often chose the latter. This isn’t a cautionary tale against partying all the time at university; it’s a cautionary tale against doing anything all the time throughout your first year. My poison was Monday nights at Korova. For some of my friends, it was studying themselves into the ground. What we all needed was to strike a balance. Making your first year at university about too much of any one thing cuts you off from the big, wide world of everything else going on at McGill. (Spoiler: There’s a lot going on.)

Marie Labrosse, Features Editor: Adapting can be tough, but you’re tougher

The first year of university is so full of highs that it can be easy to forget that it’s normal to experience lows as well. I distinctly remember one group Skype call in my first semester, during which a friend admitted that they were finding adapting to collegiate life difficult. Everyone agreed that we were enjoying ourselves, but that the adjustment wasn’t quite as easy as we had anticipated. The relief I felt sharing a cathartic cry with friends around the world lifted an enormous burden off my shoulders. Although you may not experience a collective cyber pity party, it’s important to remember that settling into life at university can take time.

Emma Avery, Managing Editor: Find your passion, don’t follow everyone else’s

Although there are endless opportunities to get involved, don’t feel pressured to take certain classes or join particular clubs just because other people are. McGill can be an intensely competitive environment; it can feel like everyone around you is involved in five extracurriculars and studying something rigorous. However, don’t join something just for the sake of being involved. Try out different activities and courses, but do so because you’re genuinely interested–not because your friend is, or because it will look good on your resume. Know that by the end of university, you’ll have found your niche.

Audrey Carleton, Managing Editor: Figure out what “productive” means to you

Throughout my time at McGill, I’ve struggled with this image of productivity that involves locking myself in a library for hours at a time, giving up socializing and self-care to try to finish an unrealistic number of tasks–and then feeling disheartened when I inevitably don’t accomplish everything on my to-do list. I’ve come to realize that productivity doesn’t look the same across the board; the “best” way to study is different for everyone and it takes time to find what’s right for you. Listen to your mind and body when you feel drained and need to take breaks, and forgive yourself if you don’t get as much done as you plan to in one sitting.

Calvin Trottier-Chi, News Editor: Embrace personal growth

Regardless of how far you’ve travelled, coming to McGill is a huge adventure on which to embark. Your first year is a chance to reinvent yourself and push your boundaries. Try to look at each experience as an opportunity to learn more about yourself–the more experiences you have, the more you’ll grow.  Get engaged, join clubs, and enter growth-sparking discussions with everyone you come across–don’t be afraid to branch out. Whatever happens will make for a great story and add to the narrative that is you.

Nicholas Jasinski, Editor-in-Chief: Find what you’re good at and do that

Successfully getting involved in a club or team over the course of your McGill career resembles the shape of a triangle. At first, it’s skinny, only taking up a bit of time and leaving room for plenty of parallel interests and activities. But as you move your way up the ladder and become more deeply involved in those extracurriculars, the triangle widens, taking up more of each week. Take advantage of the time you have in first year to try many things. Then, do what you’re good at, what you find rewarding, and what you see yourself enjoyably investing the most in later on.

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