I am one of those kids who like school. Sometimes I might be grumpy from waking up in the morning or frustrated when doing an assignment, but overall I like school. I had fun during elementary school, middle school, and high school. But I have to say I like university the best.
I like the flexibility university gives me. I like choosing to learn what interests me the most. I like how I am responsible for my own learning. I like how the people I go to school with are there because they want to be. University is different from high school in many ways. Although high school teachers and counselors and programs are always trying to prep you for post-secondary, the transition can be tough for some people. I would say my transition to university was a smooth one. It could have been a lot rougher if things were different. What would my days look like if I had chosen a school outside of BC? How would I be feeling right now if I had moved out? What would I be doing if I didn’t join that club? Would things have been harder for me?
A beautiful picture of SFU above the clouds!
I transferred to a different high school as I entered the grade 11. That transition was not a smooth one. It was rough around the edges and everywhere in between. I didn’t even make a transition. It was more like I got dumped into a whole different dimension and I gasped for air. I hated it. That first six months was the most difficult time of my short seventeen years of existence.
And now I look back on it and I realize I have learned so much from those six months about myself, the people around me, and growing up. In those six months of personal struggle, the things I learned without even knowing it at the time, has helped me make my transition to university a wonderful one.
Making new friends.
The people who know me now may not have ever guessed that I used to be a socially awkward person. I grew up with classmates scattered in houses up and down my street. The people I saw at school were people who grew up with me. I never really remembered making any friends. I just always had these friends. Isn’t it all so great? From kindergarten to senior year… a graduation compiled of twelve years of friendship! This idea was all torn into shreds with my transfer. No more was there the reassurance of having a lunch spot in the crowded cafeteria or the common habit of waving to friends as you pass each other in the hall. I wasn’t friends with a single person at my new school. My attitude on meeting new people was not a good one. I was stuck up and I thought my old friends were all I needed. But really all that was just an excuse for me being scared. Meeting new people was scary to me. What if they didn’t like me? What if they think I’m weird or creepy?
Eating alone does something to you. You start thinking to yourself like you’re having a conversation with your mind. I thought hard about the rest of my high school life. Is that what I wanted? To eat lunch alone? To go to graduation alone and take pictures with nobody? Did I really want to spend the next two years throwing a pity party for myself?
So I had to learn how to make new friends. I had to learn to say hello first and initiate conversations. I had to risk rejection and invite myself to join them for lunch or to participate in their group. And after I got over this irrational fear of making friends, I kind of got good at it. I stopped being awkward. I talked to people with confidence in shared hobbies or interests.
University is filled with interesting people. I believe I have made a lot of good friends in the last three years.
Keeping old friends.
Friendship is just like a relationship. Both sides have to put effort into it for it to work. Making new friends is exciting and all, but you can’t just let your old friendships fade away with negligence.
Juggling between different groups of friends was a first for me after my transfer. I learned that I can’t always be there for everyone. I learned that when someone feels you are far away, they will naturally distance themselves too. I learned that sometimes I will have to go out of my way just to see someone and talk to them because they are my friend. Just because these are friends who have known me since I was young, doesn’t mean they are obliged to always be there for me. Therefore, I had to learn ways to manage my time so my friendships could continue to grow.
If someone wants you in their life, they will find a way to put you there.
University is filled with dreams. I believe I have met a lot of people who share similar dreams or futures. Although my childhood friends dream of a different future from me, I believe we can overcome the distance.
Family will last through it all.
New school, new house, new friends… the same family. In a swirling time of changes, my family remained the same. I took out my anger and sadness on my family because it was the one thing that didn’t change in my life. Just like a spoiled brat, I threw all my burdens onto the weary shoulders of my parents. I knew deep inside that they didn’t want me to be facing a hard time at a new school. They tried to cheer me up but the only way I felt a little better was if they felt bad with me. It was such an ugly feeling.
I bet my parents were really worried when I entered university. The level of change is way off the charts compared to a transfer of high schools. With the help of old friends, new friends, and a fresh confidence in me that I can deal with change, I began university with a fluttering heart. I don’t think that would have been possible at all if my family had given up on me. Because of this, I feel like I really got a taste of the power of family. I learned how to stop being a spoiled child, throwing tantrums just because things weren’t the way I wanted them to be. I learned the importance of family.
University is filled with change. I believe the love I receive from my family will help me grow into a kinder and braver person.
Opportunities depend on you.
I like to be involved. I had big plans for my last two years of high school. I was going to join “this” and I was going to do “that” and volunteer “there”. Suddenly at my new school, I felt like all these opportunities vanished from me. How could I do all those things if I was a new kid? I didn’t know how things worked at this school. I didn’t have any teacher references or experience in the opportunities my new school offered. A part of me felt like I didn’t belong there. My heart still longed for my old school. It was like my school spirit became an obstacle that stopped me.
It’s counter-intuitive, actually. How can I belong if I don’t get involved? There were still opportunities that I was not eligible for because of my status as a new student, but there were many more opportunities that warmly welcomed me. As I began to become more active in my new school, my narrow world opened up a crack. I learned that opportunities are everywhere; you just have to stop making excuses and take them. I learned that I shouldn’t have to stop myself from doing things that I want to do.
University is filled with opportunities. I believe the ones I don’t take are the ones that could have helped me the most.