University Here I Come: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

10 Sep

Well, it’s official. I, a girl who has spent her entire life sheltered in a small town, is about to leave the safe, protective care of her parents for the thriving, bustling world of the University of Toronto Mississauga. Or, for all you fans of tired, overused clichés out there, this fish is leaving her small bowl behind and heading for the vast, undiscovered depths of the ocean.

Now, it may be trite, but this fish metaphor is actually quite relevant once you think about it. That fish, like myself, is probably imagining its trip to the ocean going one of two ways. Firstly, it could meet lots of other fish and end up going on exciting adventures that it would never have had the chance to experience within the confines of its tiny fishbowl. It might be extremely grateful to finally get its chance to be free and independent. As a result, that fish could flourish and grow in its new habitat and never look back. Or, in an alternate and very different scenario, it could be eaten by a shark.

Although I realize that I probably won’t be eaten by anything at UTM, like that fish, I do have my fears. Like every other first year student moving away from home for the very first time, I’m nervous about how I’m going to adapt to a new environment. But a small comfort at least, is that I am not the only one that has these kinds of doubts. We all play the “What If?” game. What if I can’t find my classes? What if I don’t get along with my roommates? What if my dad is right and the only professionals that the world actually needs are plumbers? We also get really good at visualizing worst-case scenarios. There are times when I swear that I can practically see the look on my parents’ faces when I have to tell them that I flunked out my first year. Or, I picture myself lost and alone somewhere on the mean streets of Toronto after taking the wrong bus. And lastly, one of my personal favourites, I see myself becoming wracked with so much homesickness that I spend the duration of first year curled up in the fetal position in my dorm room quietly sobbing into a pillow.

However, when these fantasies subside and I become slightly less dramatic, I stop worrying about these more understandable fears like homesickness and getting lost, and I start obsessing over the more trivial, and well, just plain ridiculous ones. These inane sources of my anxiety include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:

1. A lack of closet space.

2. Ruining my clothes during something that I’m told is called “laundry”(No, I’ve never done it before in my life).

3. Being kicked out for wearing a University of Waterloo sweatshirt that my brother gave to me for Christmas last year. And lastly;

4. Note-Taking: Laptop, or pen and paper? Which one? WHICH ONE? (It’s truly astounding how much time I’ve spent thinking about this, but truth be told, I’m just glad I was able to move on from the highly contentious Pens vs. Pencils debate).

I am smart enough to realize that my obsessions with these ridiculous fears are just a result of nerves. But as much time as I spend thinking about what could go wrong during my first year of university, I spend just as much time thinking optimistically (and hopefully realistically) about life at UTM. I realize that I have already been provided with solutions to some of my imagined problems. First of all, I am part of a community that includes distinguished professors, other professionals that specialize in career advice and academic assistance, and my fellow students who all want to succeed as much as I do. With these kinds of people surrounding me, I find it hard to imagine myself failing. Secondly, in a campus filled with thousands of students, the odds seem to be in my favour for finding at least a couple of friends. I also have access to Wi-Fi everywhere on campus to be able to email my parents back home to stave off some of those gnawing feelings of homesickness (or if I need money, of course). As far as getting lost, well, maybe by providing me with a Mississauga Transit bus pass is just UTM’s way of telling me that the best way to explore a city is to get lost in it.

Ironically, what I’m most afraid of is that I will give into my fears and I will not have a positive university experience. But, logically, I know that having fears are normal, and I will not allow mine to ruin the next four years I spend at UTM. I won’t be too afraid to talk to people that I don’t know, or to join a club or sports team. I won’t be too afraid to ask questions, or to take advantage of the resources and facilities available on campus. If I do, I know that I will regret it.

As a mature student worthy of admission to a prime institution such as the University of Toronto, I must be practical and intelligent enough to realize that I will survive my transition to university life, and that my fears will be allayed probably within the first few days that I spend on campus. Millions of students before me have succeeded in making the transition and have gone on to graduate and do great things. Among them is a man that I happen to admire very much: Tim Long, a writer for the television show The Simpsons. Why do I admire him? Well, he has helped to create not only one of the most memorable television characters of all time, but also one of my heroes: Mr. Homer J. Simpson, the one person that I can trust in this world to give me sound, well-thought-out advice. May his inspiring words comfort you as much as they have comforted me: “The only danger is if they send us to that terrible planet of the apes.” Truer words have never been spoken.

 

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