Surviving and thriving: my freshman year at Bishop’s University

I learned a lot of things the hard way in my first year of university. Here are some tips and tricks to take your schedule from surviving to thriving.

Local Community

On Mondays, I would go to the skatepark with the community of skateboarders on campus. Everyone would share stories and different experiences while helping each other improve. It made for a really wholesome environment and I developed friendships that have stayed with me right to the end of my career at Bishop’s.

A skate park during the day.

On Tuesdays, there was the crew that went to the Gait to play pool and shoot the breeze. Funnily enough, we had started meeting there with the intent of forming a club to run tournaments because we had all been playing for a few years; residence life was already running events for pool players. This was more competitive than skateboarding and it reflected in some friendly rivalries and lifelong teammates. I’ll never forget teaching my friend Isabelle to play and cheering for her during her first win.

A man playing pool, the triangle is intact in front of the camera.

Extracurriculars and Academics

Wednesday through Friday were extracurriculars that involved my degree. I and, more importantly, my mother, was worried that I wouldn’t be able to engage much with my degree outside of the classroom.

As an English Literature student, there were endless jokes about the lack of jobs that would be waiting for me. This simply was not the case; Wednesdays were for Wit and Whimsy, the poetry club I founded on campus, Thursdays I edited and submitted to The Campus Newspaper, and I filled my Fridays with creative writing and personal projects to submit to The Mitre (a literary publication on campus). In the years that followed, weekends held internships and Teaching Assistant work.

Getting Organized

During my first year, Sundays were for organizing my life. I started walking on the scenic paths around campus; they are numerous and yearn to be explored. It’s very easy to go on a walk on a trail around campus and have a pleasant experience in nature with your thoughts. This often helped clear my head and focus on my priorities. On one such walk, I decided to invest in a calendar, at the recommendation of Isabelle, which has since paid dividends. There is a lot of action on campus and a thousand projects will call to you, but it’s important to leave time and space for yourself to process everything that is happening. Otherwise, it becomes easy to burn out or feel overwhelmed. I was fortunate enough to have good professors who urged me to pace myself through university, growing is much more enjoyable than having grown.

Looking Back

My first year at Bishop’s taught me lessons about responsibility while providing a community that I would have found missing at a larger school. As someone who struggled with the fundamentals of maintaining a clean room (a discipline I have since learned is well worth honing), university was bound to involve a lot of change and adjustment for me. Luckily, a plethora of on-campus groups and organizations were able to support me through the transition period with a personal approach, rather than a “one size fits all” model. By the end of the year, I found myself attending a number of different clubs and organizations because they nurtured different skills and priorities while maintaining a clear focus on strong values. In other words, they all had the same destination and different paths.

Overall, I had a great first year and found Bishop’s to be the perfect combination of busy and individualized to help me discover my interests and direction. The atmosphere and strength of the community have a way of forging connections that uplift and encourage you to try new things and make lifelong friends.

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