Moving away from home can be one of the more challenging aspects about attending
University as a first-year student. For the majority of us, after living under your guardian’s care for seventeen years, all of a sudden having to take the responsibility of caring entirely for yourself can be physically exhausting but also mentally. Before continuing about this topic, I would like to stress the importance of mental health as a student. Struggling with mental health is something every student has experienced at one point or another, so, reach out to your university’s health and wellness centres if you’re ever in need, they are there to help.
Whether you are deciding to live alone or with roommates, you’re going to have to adjust to this new life. Waking yourself up, ensuring all your work is done, getting to class on time and the most important one… feeding yourself. It may sound silly but a tactic I used before leaving home was cooking classes with my mom. Relying on meal plans and fast food is okay occasionally but can turn into a very unhealthy lifestyle as the year goes on. Learning to cook real meals is a skill that you won’t only use throughout your first year of university, rather throughout the rest of your life. Surprisingly, once you get the hang of it, it becomes super enjoyable, especially if you’re good at it! Here are some quick and easy recipes to try.
One thing I found very helpful was creating a schedule. Because you will be busy with taking care of yourself, meeting new people, and trying to make the most of your first year, school can sometimes feel overwhelming. Using a notebook, calendar, agenda or even notes on your laptop is a great way to stay up to date. I started doing this in first year and will be most likely to it for the rest of my educational career and even into my professional career. I keep a “weekly to-do”, “upcoming assignments”, “work/opportunities” and just a general notes sticky using the stickies platform on my MacBook. Additionally, I frequently plug reminders into my phone for more personal matters like reminders to book the gym (COVID protocol) or attend a workshop I applied for recently. Prior to implementing a schedule into my everyday life, I didn’t really see the purpose but as I started to get busy, I noticed that it allowed me to stay on top of everything without the need to memorize upcoming dates, times, and events.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s okay to struggle at the start. It’s simply part of the process. Once you get the hang of things and implement a sense or order into your daily activities your worries will be forgotten. Something to keep in mind that eased me as a first year was that there are countless other first-year students going through the same thing right now. The best part about it is that these other first-years are accessible too. Go converse with your peers about it and it might ease you too.
Lastly, I want to stress that you should be having fun! Your first year is something you will always remember as you make new friends, see new scenery and experience new things. Go enjoy your time in a new space and don’t get too caught up in schoolwork. Join clubs, participate in intramurals, go on walks through campus. Overall just try to have fun!
Management and Legal Studies (BMOS) student @ Western University
Campus Ambassador @ LEAP Canada
About the Author
Roman joined LEAP to start off the summer as a Campus Ambassador on behalf of Western University. He’s currently heading into his second year of study and is pursuing a career in financial consulting upon finishing his degree. He takes pride in helping others both through LEAP and his other volunteer roles where he aims to provide a sense of comfortability for young students progressing into higher-level education.