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Psychology and Transitional Justice/Buisness at University of Western Ontario

Julie (Year 2)

julievan@ (instagram)

What did you wish you knew before going to your university? What made you choose this institution over all others? What are advantages and disadvantages of your institution or campus? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your university. 

I chose to attend the University of Western Ontario as I was initially interested in the flexible and multi-faceted educational path I could pursue. I was fortunate enough to have received a National Scholarship to Western, which made attending an out-of-province university possible for me, and London was quite conducive to the university experience I wanted. The environment on-campus seemed lively and supportive from the beginning, and the student life there is great.

Looking back however, one thing I wish I knew before coming to Western was that rejection and failure would be something I would experience more often than I expected. I've definitely been able to use these rejections and failures as learning experiences and have come to appreciate them, but it was initially a bit of a shock and adjustment at first. Whether it's with club positions, job/internship searching, or classes, everyone experiences this feeling at some point, so just try your best to move past it.

What did you wish you knew before choosing your specific program? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your program?  List any advice for incoming first-year students about your program of study.

I first came to Western as a student in the Business Management and Organizational Studies program with hopes of entering the Ivey Business School in my third year, as I thought if I didn't pursue business for my first two years, I would be behind other students if I ended up going to Ivey. However, that has definitely not been the case, and I've actually switched my program to Psychology, with a minor in Transitional Justice, for my second year!

After experiencing my first year of university, I would've changed my program in first year to political science or psychology from the beginning, in order to gain as diverse of an education as I possibly could. I have tons of different interests, so doing this from the beginning of university would've allowed me to fulfill all of these interests and have a more diverse educational background.

My advice for incoming students is: Take the plunge when it comes to taking courses or enrolling in programs you're interested in! If you have a specific goal in mind where such courses/programs aren't possible then that's a different story, but stumbling upon a subject you're passionate about can alter your entire university and career path.

What was your favourite university experience? 

Becoming close with my roommates and everyone on my floor in residence! We truly became a family.

What was your least favourite university experience?

My very first midterm; it was the lowest grade I'd gotten on any kind of assessment since like 6th grade, so I was pretty bummed out.

What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?

Time management has always been my largest weakness, and it probably will be for quite some time, so managing my time around all my courses and extracurriculars was the most difficult part of my first year. At the end of high school in Grade 12, I wasn't taking very many courses (as I had distributed all my courses to my earlier years) and basically had just 2 hours of classes per day. Coming to university and being thrown into a full 5.0 credit course (in addition to starting over with extracurriculars, meeting people, etc.) load took some adjustment, and time management was the defining part of that adjustment. I wouldn't say any of my courses were difficult, but I had to rediscover ways to schedule my time to complete my readings, assignments, etc. (Apple Calendar/Google Calendar changed my life!). Additionally, as I've always greatly valued extracurriculars, I tended to sign up for everything and ended up spreading myself a bit thin, so I had to place more priority on my academics as the year progressed. Hopefully I've got it down now!

If you were able to take electives, what was your favourite elective? If you were not able to take electives, what was your favourite course and why?

I've always loved psychology and took AP Psychology in high school, so despite this course containing a lot of review content for me, my prof (Dr. Mike Atkinson) still made the content super engaging and meaningful! It reaffirmed for me that I wanted to switch to psychology (for at least my second year) and learning about human behaviour truly changed my perspective on life and interactions with people.

Business 1220E was a really cool course as it had significantly smaller class sizes, tons of interaction between classmates and lecturers (participation is key in this course), and its structure was unlike any other course I took in first year. For those considering Ivey, this class is quite insightful for if you would thrive in Ivey's environment, but it will likely not be your highest mark.

Additional Comments

Although your first year experience will be different and untraditional, don't let that hold you back! The student community at Western is always here to support you, whether that's your Sophs (orientation leaders), mentors, fellow club members and execs, or those you're living in residence with. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to random people as well; I wish I did more of that when I first came to Western. Finally, if you're coming to Western and you ever see me around, PLEASE come up and say hi!



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