Life lessons from Queen’s University

Journal staff look back on the last four years

Image supplied by: Photo illustration by Julia Balakrishnan
Snapshots of Journal staff's time at Queen's.

Starting at Queen’s, everybody tells you that graduation will come sooner than you can imagine. But when you’re a nervous frosh juggling countless hours of new classes and commitments, the end seems like it couldn’t be further away. With less than two weeks of school left, leaving this place seems more impossible than ever.

We talked to Journal staff who are graduating this year about what they learned from their time at Queen’s. 

“Of course after majoring in English Literature in university, I learned academic skills I’ll carry with me after I receive my degree. But what matters most is that I learned what it’s like to have and be a good friend. I got my degree in sushi on Sunday afternoons, in identifying my friends just by the sound of their laughter or footsteps, and in fitting seven girls in one bed to debrief a night out. I’m graduating with the ability to support my friends through their lowest points and celebrate their highest ones, with enough embarrassing photographs to cover every wall of my new home and with enough memories of “the good old days” to endlessly annoy my kids with. Most importantly, I learned that the people you surround yourself with make or break your experience here. Lucky for me, I chose the best of the best.” 

—Maureen O’Reilly, News Editor

“At the risk of sounding like a yearbook quote, I’m glad for a lot of the time I wasted at Queen’s. I didn’t spend a lot of it beaming in front of Ontario Hall while wearing a rugby shirt like in the brochure and I spent even less singing the Oil Thigh. I spent way more time being with my friends or procrastinating-by-meme in the library. All the nerves of high school are still there in university and the same uncertainty shows up too — September’s going to roll around and all the hallways and classrooms I’ve gotten used to are going to be gone. 

The difference is, University gives you the chance to decide how you want to shape your life and choose what you think about. That process I started in high school thankfully didn’t end there. University allowed it to grow and build around my relationships. As graduation approaches, and I find myself busier than I even thought was possible in high school, I’m glad it happened and I’m reassured that it wasn’t picture perfect. 

Wasted hours spent figuring out what I was going to do ended up building the skills and relationships I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.”

—Nick Pearce, Arts Editor

“During my time at Queen’s as a politics major, I learned about political polls, the process of impeachment and international security policies after 9/11. But the life lessons I learned far outweigh what I learned in my classes. 

I learned that it really is the people that make the place. I have a group of people surrounding me who have made my day, every day for the last four years. Whether you’re complaining about exams or dancing on a night out, having good people around you makes every different type of experience a positive one. 

Knowing that I have people around who will rush over to my house with a bottle of wine, a hug or a whole pizza when I need them makes me feel at home no matter what I’m going through. 

I love Queen’s, but when I really think about it, the reason I love the school is because of the people in it. If you surround yourself with good people, things in your life will turn out that way as well.”

—Shivani Gonzalez, Lifestyle Editor

“Everyday, I inch towards becoming a more honest and refined version of myself. When I first came to Queen’s campus as a twelfth grader, I was confused and scared and not really sure about what was to come. Now that I’m graduating, I can honestly say that I’m still confused, scared and not really sure about what is to come — but I also know that it’s going to be okay. 

You’re never going to feel totally ready for anything, and life is always going to be a bit crazy, but that’s the way things are supposed to be. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut no matter how terrified you are, chase your passions and hold close the people you love.”

—Julia Balakrishnan, Photos Editor

“Your grades don’t matter as much as you feel like they do. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t try or that certain grad schools don’t have GPA cutoffs, but your marks shouldn’t be the most impressive thing about you. Your grades don’t matter like your well-being does. 

And it’s true what they say about not being able to remember your GPA 20 years from now. If you get straight Ds, you’ll still survive. You might even laugh about it with your wife in 20 years. You need prioritize things if you want them to happen. I can’t count how many people told me I wouldn’t sleep well at university. Or that I wouldn’t have time to run, cook or go on day trips outside of the city. The truth is that everyone has busy times at school where you genuinely have little time outside of studying, but for the most part, the free time is abundant.

Do the things that are important to you. Get a solid nine hours of sleep every night. You can do it if you make the time for it.”

—Alex Palmero, Features Editor

“The beauty of being on a university campus is that there’s really no one right way to go about your time here. No one dictates what you do. 

Your decisions should be for you, and whether you’re involved with 10 different clubs or one, whether you have your life planned out or not — as long as it’s good enough for you, it should be good enough for everyone else. 

Choosing to never go out doesn’t make you boring, just as going out often doesn’t make you irresponsible. Being single all four years isn’t a bad thing, nor is preferring a relationship an anomaly. 

If your grades don’t match up to those of your peers, that does not mean you’re a subpar student or any less competent. If you’re working hard and trying your best, that’s all anyone can ask of you.  You’re good enough for whatever path you choose to take.

As you get into the upper years of your degree, you’ll start to see your classmates pursue a variety of different post-Queen’s paths. But whether you’re aiming for grad school, taking a fifth year or taking a year off, no one gets to decide what’s best for you, except you.”

—Sarina Grewal, Assistant News Editor



Graduation, Postscript, Queen's

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