What upper-year students wish they knew in first year

Four students give advice for incoming first-years

The what-not-to-do’s of first year.

After a couple of years at Queen’s, you may look back with regret on your first year, wishing you had known this or that. We thought we’d save you that trouble and share some advice early on.

Here are a couple pieces of advice for incoming first years, told by third-year students, to save you from the mistakes we may or may not have made.

As I write this, “If I Could Turn Back Time” by Cher is living in my head rent-free.

First year was strange because of the pandemic, and the fully online year desensitized me to school—something from which I’m still recovering. I think learning to be kind to yourself is vital. It gives you room and space to grow and learn from the inevitable mistakes you’ll make.

Another thing I wished I knew: the importance of naps! You likely live on or near campus and I think taking naps between classes is amazing, though not a substitute for a good night’s sleep. Making sure you prioritize your wellness throughout the semester is essential to combating burnout come exam season.

Finally, the Lazy substation reigns supreme, make note of this and visit often.

—Asbah Ahmad, Senior News Editor

I wished I had known to be open to anyone you meet and to take initiative—there are so many people out there that you can connect with if you take that jump.

Going into my first year, I was living with a bunch of guys with whom I went to high school. It would’ve been easy to just stick within that friend group, but as university progressed, I began making so many new friends and connections. While it feels scary at first, everybody is looking to make new friends and there are people waiting out there that you’ll love.

Now, a lot of my closest friends are people I met at Queen’s. There are so many different people you can connect with. My advice: be vulnerable, be brave, and be yourself. If you keep an open mind, you really can meet some life-long new friends.

—Jack McMillan, Comm ’24

Many graduates refer to university as the “best time of their lives,” whereas others say they just wanted to get through to graduation.

The best tip I can share is university is what you make out of it.

In first year, I was given many different opportunities to participate that I didn’t take, and I regret it. Take advantage of trying new things and going outside of your comfort zone, whether it’s within or outside of the classroom.

If you have a hobby or are looking to try something new, check out the AMS’s club directory and find people who share the same interest as you. If you hate it, then you learned something new about yourself, and if you loved it, then you found something new and exciting to experience.

—Jessie Cuthbert, ArtSci ’24

With first year comes a sense of power in being on your own—you’re away from home and living without anyone telling you what to do. For me, my newfound sense of independence came with the dangers of spending a lot of money.

The best advice I can give to incoming students is to handle your money smartly. For one, you do not need brand new textbooks. Look into buying hand-me-down books from upper-years instead. I promise you, spending $120 on a textbook you will use for 4 months is not worth it.

Also, take advantage of your Trade-A-Meals (TAMs). If you feel like treating yourself to something other than dining hall food for a night, rather than spending money on Uber Eats or eating out, use the meals you can get as a TAM at places like Pita Pit or Starbucks.

Trust me, in the long run, you’ll be happy to have saved some money.

— Maddie Hunt, Senior Lifestyle Editor

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