The end of the semester has brought hours upon hours of studying and putting together notes for final papers – and with that, hours and hours of procrastination (I don’t recommend you follow my practices.) In all this time that I’ve been sitting in the library, listening to the ticking of the clocks and watching other frustrated students bore over their books, I’ve had time to do a lot of reflection on the past few years of university.

In my first year, I came in bright-eyed and willing to bend over backwards to impress my peers. I remember trying to go to every event possible; to meet as many new people as I could. In this, I think I lost focus on academic goals. While being concerned with building a good network and résumé is highly important in university, failing to apply myself in all my courses really gave me a wake-up call. I think this also served as an opportunity to help me find myself (as cliché as that sounds.) I was able to find which topics I really enjoyed – a.k.a. economics and I do NOT mix well – and was able to further narrow down my interests into what they are today.

Second year was a blur – I’m not even sure I can tell you the highlights. Being a part of the Peace, Conflict, and Justice community definitely gave me a group that I felt comfortable in, apart from the community of friends I’d built at my own college and through first year. I felt much more confident in my abilities to balance my academic and social life, as well as all of my extracurricular activities. I think that striking this balance, as well as not being so concerned about having to make a good impression on everyone I met did me good – my grades improved substantially, I enjoyed school more, and I was able to join things for the sake of having fun (not just to build up a good rapport.)

Now that I’m nearing the end of my third year, I can confidently say that all the hurdles I’ve overcome in my university career so far – dealing with loss, managing different aspects of my life, and preparing for the future – has helped me grow into the person I am today. There is no doubt that I still have a lot of growing to do, but I am pleased with where I am today. I belong to an incredible academic community of students who want to achieve the same goals I do, and are more than willing to help me achieve mine. I’ve met people who understand where I am coming from like no one has in my previous school years. Most importantly, I think it’s the self-confidence that has amounted from seeing what I have potential to achieve that has helped me move forward with what I truly want to do.

For incoming students, I would strongly stress that university doesn’t come as easy as it does in elementary or high school. You’re going to be exposed to so many new things – people who are so well-versed in the world that it scares you, people who are more intense than anyone you’ve ever met before, and people with pasts that you won’t possibly be able to comprehend. But what I can say, is that university is an incredible experience like no other – the successes that you will have, the friends you will make, and the things you will find out about yourself – will help you continue to grow, as it has for me.