I was really lame when I was a first year. In fact, I’m still a square compared to the Froshies who were outside my building late last night. I had a difficult time finding extracurriculars when I arrived three years ago. Bar hopping in first year on St. Laurent was fun, but I wanted to find something more rewarding than someone else’s vomit on my shoes. I wanted to participate in an activity that would challenge me, be fun, and leave me with a group of friends with more depth than Carry Bradshaw’s posse. That’s a tall order.
I’d always been athletic, but like many other students, it was unrealistic for me to pursue my goals through a team at McGill. By some sheer stroke of luck, my high school track team consisted of some the smartest people in my school (myself excluded). I took that as a clue that I needed to find a fun intellectual activity at McGill, if such a thing existed.
So when a friend suggested that my bad habit of critiquing every piece of food I eat could be useful in print form, I decided to give it a shot. I emailed an editor of the Tribune, who called me into the depths of Shatner to discuss my ideas. I’m pretty sure even my feet were sweating during that meeting. I was a first year without coherent opinions or direction in life. Why would anyone want to read what I wrote?
Three years later, I’m still sweating. I worry that stories will fall through, that the rest of the editorial board will laugh at my opinions, and that we might not go to press. But I’ve found that I thrive in this environment (even if it makes me a bit odiferous). On any given day in the office I’m intimidated by my fellow editors, but that is a blessing. I don’t want to pursue journalism after I leave McGill; some of my esteemed colleagues are better fit for that and are tackling their dreams after their years at the Tribune. But I’ve learned more from working at this newspaper than I have in three years of university. No, I couldn’t tell you whether we use an Oxford comma, but I do know how to argue, how to synthesize, and how to think critically, all under a looming deadline. Sure, you should learn those skills in your four years at McGill, but you might not, thanks to large class sizes and often inaccessible staff, and no class will let you ponder the pros and cons of fantasy football or send you to interview the latest Montreal music scene sensation.
To the Froshies of 2011, if you enjoyed frosh week but you’re ready for something more intellectually challenging than counting the number of beers you’ve consumed, stop by the Tribune office. To those McGill students whose shaking legs and sweaty palms have held them back from writing, this is your year.