What every student should know about university residence

-It will be loud. All the time. “Quiet hours” are a lie, so if doors slamming, yelling, or drunken yodelling bother you, invest in earplugs

-People on your floor know everything about your life. Even if you’ve never talked to them. A girl from down the hall once came up to me and was like, “Who’s that guy you always have over? He’s really cute. Are you dating him? You should date him.” That was the first conversation I’d ever had with her.

-Everything will smell like weed always

-Don’t try to get anything done on Thursday nights

-There will always be someone drinking. Even on a Tuesday afternoon, and even during finals. Okay, especially during finals.

-Everyone’s fridges really only end up containing alcohol and maybe some hummus. Hummus makes really good drunk food.

-There will always be someone drinking their seventh cup of coffee

-There will always be that person who never gets out of their pyjamas, and as far as you know, never goes to class. Is there a degree in playing video games I don’t know about?

-In spite of the fact that you all live a few feet away from each other, people play online video games together in separate rooms

-At any given second someone is always saying “I should be doing school work right now” while watching youtube videos, playing video games, or just lying in bed doing absolutely nothing

-Half the floor is always sick. I swear, we just pass the same cold back and forth over and over

-No one knows where the library is

-Like three people on the floor know how to do laundry and they have to teach everyone else. Scratch that. All of the girls know how to do laundry and like three of the guys do. Not sexist if it’s true.

-No one has ever attempted to clean their bathroom

-The vacuum has been used maybe four times. Two out of four times were to vacuum up puke.

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October: National ________ month

According to the wise interwebs, October is:

-National Book Month (too bad I don’t have time to read any books other than my textbooks)

-National Cookie Month

-National Pizza Month

-Strangely it’s both National Country Ham Month and National Vegetarian Month

-National Sarcasm Month (I’m like never sarcastic, so I would never get behind this one)

(That was sarcasm in case you didn’t catch that)

In addition to all of these excellent celebrations, I will also be participating in my own sort of commemorative month. From this day forward, I declare October International Get Your Shit Together Month. Exciting commemorative activities include:

-Making a schedule of all of the assignments due this month

-Actually working out regularly

-Doing all of the things I avoided doing in September, like calling my cell phone company about why they consistently charge me five dollars more than it says they should in my contract

-Starting using sticky notes and to do lists and other organizational shit that apparently works

-Getting out of bed before 11 on days when I don’t have class till 11:30

-Remembering to blog because I always feel better when I do it

-Not eating dessert at every meal at the cafeteria

-Vacuuming my room for the first time since I’ve gotten here (yes, I’m aware of how disgusting it is that I haven’t vacuumed yet)

So hooray for International Get Your Shit Together Month! Feel free to celebrate with me and tell me what you’ve been doing to commemorate this important month.

A side note I guess I should add is that although this is a joke post, the reason I got thinking about this is that it is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For those who don’t know, my mom died from breast cancer two and a half years ago. I saw some pink ribbons displayed in a store the other day and it was one of those weird out-of-nowhere moments where the loss is suddenly fresh again and you can’t breathe for a second. I don’t really have anyone to talk about it with here either. I’m at the point where I have friends now, but not talk-about-your-dead-mother friends. In time, perhaps. For now I just swallow my grief and remind myself to keep breathing.

That’s all you really can do, I guess.

So anyway, if you get a chance, buy a pink ribbon or make a donation to breast cancer research. Also, tell all your girlfriends to get breast exams and learn how to do self exams. The thing is, awareness does matter and early diagnosis does too. I make fun of it, but the whole awareness-month thing is a good idea.

How to ace your first month in residence

In university I am learning to analyze stuff and such. Here are some facts about my first three weeks in residence. Feel free to analyze and interpret however you choose.

What I could have eaten for breakfast today: eggs made to order with whole grain toast and assorted fresh fruit

What I actually ate for breakfast today: three bowls of cheerios and some tater tots

What I could have eaten for dinner last night: a turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, grilled veggies, and a fresh salad

What I actually ate for dinner last night: a taco, some sushi, and two slices of cake

What I could have eaten for lunch yesterday: a toasted egg salad sandwich and a bowl of vegetable soup

What I actually ate for lunch yesterday: Lunch? What is lunch?

What I could be keeping in my mini fridge: milk, juice, vegetables and dip, fruit, cheese, yogurt

What I actually keep in my fridge: four Palm Bays and some hummus

How many hours of sleep I could have gotten this weekend: 10+ per night

How many hours of sleep I actually got this weekend: Less than six. Total.

Number of colds I’ve gotten already this month: 2

Go figure.

Real talk

I don’t want to be a journalist.

There, I said it. It’s not really something you’re allowed to say three weeks into the first year of journalism school, but I’ve always tried to be honest here, so I’m saying it.

The truth is, I felt it after the first journalism lecture, on the first day of classes, but I pushed that feeling away. I thought maybe it was just first week jitters, or perhaps I was just overwhelmed by the whole university experience. Actually, you know what? That’s not true either. I knew it wasn’t jitters. I just wanted that to be the problem. The idea that I’ve put so much effort and money and time into getting into a program that I immediately realized is wrong for me scared me too much to face it at first. It wasn’t just fear either, it was also embarrassment. There I was going around for the last six months telling everyone I was going to be a journalist, and now I’ll have to tell them all that it was a big mistake. I’ll have to tell my dad that I’m wasting his money being here, and my scholarship money too. I’ll have to tell my friends who all know what they want, that I actually have no idea where I’m going.

It’s terrifying also. Terrifying, because I don’t know what to do now. Like, at all. It’s too late to switch programs and even if I could switch, I have no idea to what program I’d switch. I’ve spent the last six years assuming (consciously or subconsciously) that I would become a journalist when I grew up. I mean, in career planning class I pretended to consider other options, but truthfully, I was always planning on journalism. I mean, it’s not like I had my whole life planned out, but I had a direction, and that felt good.  I felt bad for all of the poor souls who still hadn’t figured out what they wanted. I loved it when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up because I had an answer.

I really did think I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew that journalism is a difficult profession. The hours are long, the jobs are scarce and low-paying, and the deadlines are murder. Furthermore, no one knows what journalism is even going to look like in four years, or one, even. I was okay with that though. I felt like it was a field that was so right for me that I couldn’t go wrong, after all, I love to write and I love talking to people. That’s all you really need, isn’t it?

It took one Journ 1000 class to realize that I had it all wrong. I know that you’ve waited this whole long, ramble-y post for me to explain exactly why it is that I felt this way suddenly, but the truth is that I really couldn’t tell you. The best way that I can explain it is that I listened to descriptions of possible careers we could have-as foreign correspondents, news anchors, radio hosts, parliamentary reporters-and I couldn’t picture myself doing any of them. More than that, I didn’t want to picture myself doing any of them. All of the professor’s descriptions of a journalist were of this determined, dogged reporter chasing down leads and knocking on doors and calling everyone in the phonebook until she got answers. That, I realized, isn’t me at all.

So what do I want, exactly? What can I picture myself doing? I only have vague shadows of ideas at this point. I wish I had more. It scares me that I don’t, but the honest truth is that I’m not even close to knowing what I want.

I want to be writing still; I’m sure of that. Writing important things, things that really matter. Things that will change peoples’ minds and make them listen, make them understand. I still like talking to people too. I recently joined the debate team, and I love it. Public speaking, I realized, gives me a bit of a rush actually. The other thing is that I still care about news. I flip through all of the news apps on my phone like four times a day and I’m constantly texting Mat about the debate over Syria and the elections in Australia and Kenyan leaders being tried for war crimes. I think that someday I’d like to be in a position where I could do more than just report on those things. I would like to be in a position where I could make real changes in foreign policy and diplomatic relations.

And now that I go back and read that paragraph it really just looks like I want to go into politics. Do I? I’m not sure. I wish that I had a dream…

For now, I guess I’m going to journalism class. I’m sure I’ll learn some useful stuff there, regardless on what I choose to do. I’ve got a year to figure my shit out. Hopefully that will be enough. Hopefully God really does have a plan for me.

Otherwise, I’m screwed.

 

Things I wish I had known about university

1) Nobody cares about how you look in class. If I had known this in August I would have packed a whole lot less clothing. The truth is that when you show up at a lecture, everyone has different stuff going on. Some are coming straight from the gym, others slept in because they had been up late finishing work for another class the night before, and still others are already on their third back-to-back class of the day and therefore are hauling half a library on their backs. What I’ve realized is that this isn’t our school so much as it is our home. Therefore, people dress like they would at home; they come as they are. I mean, don’t get me wrong, some people still put together outstanding outfits, but more often than not, jeans and sweatpants prevail.

2) You have a ton of free time. And okay, I get that as the semester gets harder, I will be using all of that time to study, but it’s still a complete shock to me that I get to manage so much of my own time. In high school I was pretty independent, but I still had to be present at school for six hours a day. In addition to that, there were times when I was expected to be at home with my family, and times after school when extra-curriculars took place.  It’s still strange to me that all I have to do here is show up to five classes a week, all of which are a five minute walk from my bedroom. There are extracurriculars, yes, but at the moment I’m not “committed” per se to any of them; I can choose to show up if I feel like it. For me, the luxury here isn’t so much the freedom because my parents have always let me be fairly independent. The luxury is the sheer abundance of time at my disposal. I’ve been watching a lot of movies lately because never before have I had two or three hour time blocks to sit down and watch a movie. Usually in high school I could fit in one tv show between school and clubs and soccer, and even then, only if I pvr’d it and skipped through the commercials. And okay, yeah, I’m sure I’ll have to watch a few less movies and do a lot more studying soon enough, but still, the luxury is there.

3) Everyone belongs here. It’s like this whole shift in attitude from high school. In high school, you found friends if you got lucky and found people who were like you. In university, people look past your weirdness, and even embrace it. I think part of it is because we’re all strangers to each other and everyone is eager to be open to one another and make friends, whatever the kind. However, I think a bigger part of it is that we’re all here because we want to, not because we’re forced to. It creates this kind of buoyant environment; it’s one full of enthusiasm and excitement instead of one of boredom and frustration. If you show that you care about something, people are attracted to that here. The result is that everyone is included because everyone cares. That is, after all, why they’re here.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, and it’s also a little premature. We’ll see how I feel about all of this in the coming weeks and months.

Things I wish I could tell my high school self

1) Nobody thinks you’re stupid for asking questions. You look even stupider if you don’t. Especially in grade 10 math, when you don’t know how to do trig and everyone else does. It’s not your fault that your junior high didn’t teach it. Just get your teacher to help you get caught up, it’ll honestly take like ten minutes.

2) Nerd out. Seriously, don’t ever worry about “looking like a nerd.” You are a nerd, embrace it. To be honest, you were never hiding it very well anyway. Also, you’ll end up meeting a ton of nerdy friends who will love you for your love of Shakespeare and physics jokes and Doctor Who, so don’t even stress about it.

3) You’re all in the same boat. You are not the only high school student with tough stuff going on at home, or the only one unsure about their future. You’re certainly not the only one feeling lonely. Just get some balls and talk to people instead of sitting by yourself and pretending to look at something interesting on your phone. They’re probably hoping someone will come introduce themselves because they’re too shy to do it. Most of the friends I made in Grade 11 I wish I had gotten to know in Grade 10. We could have had a lot more time together and they probably would have helped me get through some of the tough times, like my mom’s death.

4) Your alcohol tolerance is not as high as you think it is. So for the love of god do not try to keep pace with Nob and and Jo at that one party. You will take too many shots and you and Nob will both puke and Jo will have to carry you to the car because Jo is a tank and vodka is like water to him. Puke is hard to wash out of your hair btw.

5) Don’t pigeon-hole yourself. Okay, yes, you’re good at soccer and writing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try other things. Maybe I would have also like martial arts, or debate club. I guess I was eager to stick to what I knew because I was confident in that. I wish I could tell my Grade 10 self that it’s okay to be a beginner at things. No one expects you to be an expert right away. And more than that, you don’t have to do things just because you’re good at them. It’s okay to do something you suck at if you’re enjoying yourself.

6) You don’t have to plan your whole future out when you apply for university. I mean, you can, but it’s kind of a waste of your time, because it’s going to change right away anyway, because a) university is different than anything you could have ever imagined, and b) You will change and so will your goals. In January, I was 100% sure I wanted to be a journalist when I grew up. Now here I am with two university journalism classes under my belt, realizing that I’m pretty sure that’s not what I want to do with my life. My favourite class so far is philosophy; I did not expect that. All I’ve figured out is that I have absolutely nothing figured out. I used to have my whole life planned out, and now I don’t even know what I’m going to do a year from now.