As I packed up my residence room last week, I looked back on my first year in university. My many adventures, late nights, hours at the library, and trays of gross dining hall food flashed through my mind. I have learned a lot from my experience as a 'frosh'. As I move on the second year, I hope I can share some of the most important things I learned in first year.

1. Sleep is Your Friend.

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Personally, I'm a night owl, and regularly stay in Stauffer library until 2:00 AM on a Monday or pull an all-nighter accompanied by a four-piece at Lazy. However, I have learned that when I hardly sleep at night, I end up falling asleep in class, or worse, not even making it out of bed in the morning.

First year has taught me that I literally can't function without sleep. When I actually get the rest I need, I do better in my classes, not to mention the fact that I actually attend them. Now, I'm not saying to skip out on hanging out with your friends, making KD at one in the morning, but I'm saying to do it less often—sleep is your friend.

2. H2O Is The Way To Go

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All my life, people have been telling me to drink more water. My teachers, my coaches, and my mom (hi mom) have been telling me to drink at least 8 cups a day. So naturally, in first year I drank tons of pop, juice, and chocolate milk—all the good stuff that freely flowed in the dining halls. I could drink iced tea at every meal if I wanted to.

I slowly began to realize that what my mom had told me all these years was actually right. All the sugar and unhealthy ingredients in pop made me tired and sick, and my skin wasn't happy either. So I started carrying my water bottle with me everywhere, and to my surprise, I was refilling it constantly!

When drinking water, I had more energy, my skin was brighter, and I felt awake and energized for my day. Plus, water rejuvenates you after a night out and keeps the hangovers at bay. So invest in a good water bottle my friends, because H2O really is the way to go!

3. Time Management Isn't A Joke 

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I used to have a teacher who constantly talked about the importance of managing our time. However, throughout school I just kind of did my own thing and let my teachers lay out my days for me. Little did I know, you pretty much have to plan your life to the second in university. One of the most important things I learned in first year was to manage my time wisely.

Once I actually took the time to make myself a schedule, one that included breaks, jobs, activities, fun stuff, due dates and time for my school work, I realized how quickly I could organize my life. I was on top of all my work, with a good time frame to do it in, and I was having fun with my friends. I even had time to catch up on all my shows. Keep a calendar or use a digital reminder app so you never forget another assignment.

4. One Bad Grade Doesn't Matter

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In high school, it really feels like if you don't get above an 85% on something, you did badly. One thing that I realize in first year is that one bad grade isn't the end of the world. In university, your marks won't be the same as they were in senior year.

What I've learned is how to use a bad grade to motivate me to change the C into an A. People often say that "C's get degrees," but realistically you want a better grade than that. Don't get yourself down though—use it to help you improve. No pity parties allowed because really, one bad grade doesn't matter. 

5. The Library Is Your Friend

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I had a friend in first year who lived at the library. He was never in his room and he was constantly working on the next project or the next assignment. On the other hand, the rest of our friend group was struggling to finish assignments until three in the morning the day before they were due. Between the work, the floor parties and the noisy neighbours, we hardly slept and we sure as hell didn't hand in our best work. 

Be smart like my friend and take advantage of the quietness and peacefulness of the libraries. You'll be amazed at how much more you get done without the urge to turn on Netflix, or the sounds of your neighbours bouncing a basketball above you all night. Libraries were built for a reason, so find a desk and get to work!

6. Get Out and Have a Good Time 


This is the most important thing I learned in first year, so pay attention. Some people forget that there's a whole university world for them to explore past all the books, assignments, and exams. A huge part of the first year experience is going out and having fun with your friends. Get your floor together and join the intramural team, sneak into a party (responsibly), or go all out for homecoming in your best tricolour outfit. 

Remember to put down the books sometimes and go a little crazy. First year is your year to get out and do something while people are still there helping you. You have dons and campus security to keep you safe, you have the dining halls to feed you, and you have a hundred and one kids who can let you into your building when you lose your keys. So sometimes you need to forget about your deadlines and just go for it.

7. Seriously, Do Something.

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I'm really not kidding, university isn't all about school. No one ever looks back on their years here and goes, "remember that one assignment? Yeah, that was great". Because that's not the fun stuff, that's not where you make memories. Get out and go join a club, try out for a team, audition for a show or write your way into the school paper.

Find people who share your passions and get connected with your school in a way that makes you love it. No one remembers all the nights you spent doing homework and writing papers. You remember the things you did, the things you were a part of, and the people you met along the way. 

8. You Only Get One Year 

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Time really does fly when you're having fun! It felt like I was packing up my room the day after I decorated it. I realized that you only have eight short months to make your first year great. Use those months wisely. Don't hide away in your dorm room watching Netflix and ignoring your floormates. Make some friends and have some adventures. 

You only have eight months to enjoy having all your food readily prepared for you, only eight months to have all your closest friends living two minutes away. You have eight short months of all the late night kitchen talks with your floor. Enjoy these months and capture all these moments because first year is over before you know it. Experience life—you're only a 'frosh' once.

Emily Deszpoth