Year one: first years are not all one in the same

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By Nicole Di Donato 

During these first few months of university, I’ve felt as though no one around me truly understands how I’m feeling or what I’m going through. Although I have a great support system of friends and family whom I can rely on for advice and support, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was the only person who felt overwhelmed by living in a big city for the first time, or if I was the only person who found it hard to balance a social life and school.

After talking to a couple of other first year students at Ryerson in different programs, I began to realize that I am not the only person who feels this way.

“At first, I was really not okay whatsoever. I was like ‘Oh my God I’m going to fail, I’m going to drop out of school, I’m not going to be an engineer,’” said biomedical engineering student Dylan Young. “It got a little bit better after a while but it’s still a lot of work … Even though I’m studying hard, I don’t know if it’s hard enough.”

I can say that there have been times throughout the semester where I questioned whether or not I was cut out to be a journalist. Just like Dylan, I felt as though my best wasn’t enough, which was really discouraging at times. However, each challenge that I have faced has helped me become a better writer.

It’s interesting to see how even though Dylan and I are in programs that are completely different, we still have similar feelings and thoughts about our adjustment to university.

“I expected [my program] to be a little bit more interesting. It’s really just a re-cap of grade 12, plus more advanced stuff,” said Young. “But we’re going to get into the stuff that we’re in the program for later on in the year and later on in the program.”

In contrast to Dylan, I feel as though my program is extremely interesting because each class, we must challenge ourselves by physically going out and doing what we we’re taught, rather than just learning theories. Each program has a different approach to teaching students the concepts they need. The way we are taught and the way in which we learn greatly impacts the way in which we experience our first year at Ryerson.

Living on my own in the city has also greatly impacted my first year experience so far.

However, I am lucky because I live close enough that I have the option of going home to see my family when things get tough. Some people, like film studies student Emma Robinson from New Minas, Nova Scotia, doesn’t have that option.

Coming from a small town where most people know each other to Toronto was a cultural shift Emma had to adjust to.

“You have to think twice about who you talk to here, when at home, you could literally talk to whomever and it would be fine,” she said.

Although there are many people who travel from far away places to come to Ryerson, the majority of people who attend the university are commuters.

“I would say that I am getting a different experience than someone who is not commuting,” said accounting and finance student Hira Ejaz. “I think that it allows me to become more responsible because I know that I have to get my stuff done on time whether I am commuting or not. So, even during my commute I try to study on the Go Train or I try to get other stuff done.”

Hira commutes from Pickering, Ont every day to get to class, which takes around an hour and a half to two hours. Although everyone’s first year is different, ultimately, each student deals with similar things such as the struggle to adjust to the course workload, meeting new friends and overall, figuring out who they want to be and what they want to do in their life, regardless of what program they are in or where they come from.

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