By Kriti Shah
Starting University can be severely anxiety-inducing, and that’s why I’m going to share some secrets on how to deal with the struggle. I’ll tell you about all the things that Concordia offers, including things about the population here and some of the daily on-goings.
I just started my second year here, and so far it’s been going well. I think that’s because I have cracked the code. My first term here was overwhelming. I felt like a guppy in the Pacific Ocean. I felt alone, lost, and overall just small, and that’s not just because I’m short. It was because I did not know all that Concordia has to offer. None of my friends were going to attend Concordia, and I did not know if I would ever make friends, because everyone always seemed to be in their little groups and it seemed near impossible to infiltrate. Every time there was an event hosted by the CSA or one of the clubs, I would just try to find a place in a remote part of the school and wander, go to the library, turn on Netflix, and try to kill time until my next class. Classes weren’t that easy either. Unbeknownst to me, midterms started not even two weeks into classes; despite the deceiving class times of the average 50 minutes, they were so jam-packed with information that I felt confused and dazed. Then, just as soon as I thought I was getting into the pace of things and that I was ready for the hectic routine of classes and the workload, finals started. By the time of my last exam, I was so tired and frustrated. Everyone talked about this glorious University experience, and I was upset I didn’t get to live it.
However, as the cliché goes, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Although my first term was spent mostly alone and in corners of the schools, I discovered all that Concordia has to offer. For example, every time I entered the office, Anita, the wonderful receptionist, was so cheery and helpful. Just ask her to point you to the right direction and you’ll find the whole school so much easier to navigate. During my time studying in the library, I met Nancy, one of the amazing ladies in Career Services. She helped me strengthen my resume and gave me tips for my future resumes or employers. I got two job offers out of that, and they were honestly the best experiences! Then I discovered the wonder that is Student Life and Learning. Any problem you may have, they will be there to solve it! Mirna, the wonderful counsellor took the time to talk to me, made me feel comfortable, and set me up for Learning Accommodations. Due to that experience, when it came time to hand my professors the letter for Learning Accommodations, I realized how approachable most the professors are and how willing they are to help you succeed. This all gave me tremendous confidence to assert myself into more social situations and to speak up in class.
When the next term started, I made sure to talk to the person beside me in class. Just a simple “hey how are you?” or “How was your break?” makes all the difference. Maybe you won’t find your best friend, but you’ll find someone in class to talk to, and that makes learning so much easier. This term, I also made sure to speak up when I didn’t understand a concept, no matter how “stupid” the question may have seemed. I also used all the resources the professors had to offer. All I had to do was ask them how they could help me help them by fully understanding the concepts in class; that might mean posting their presentations on Moodle, or utilizing their office hours for some extra help. As long as you don’t abuse that power to use these resources to skip or disrupt classes, they are always more than willing to help you out. And if talking to professors is not your thing, go to the tutor registry and they will find the perfect fit for you. They are so helpful and really make a huge difference in your grades.
I also went to Club Fair Week and signed up for a few clubs. They look great as your co-curricular, and you get to meet so many people! There’s a club for almost every interest you have, and if you don’t see a club that you wish was there, talk to Laura, the CSA VP Internal, and she’ll help you get started! The clubs not only offer a chance to make new friends and have more activities, but you actually get a feeling of fulfillment when helping out during events. In fact, a club that I joined gave me so much experience I decide to run for an Executive Position and I got it! That provided me with even more experience on the behind-the-scenes of the clubs.
I also started paying more attention to the posters around the campus. I started going to the events and pep rallies and had such a great time. Even if you don’t have someone to go with, you can just go and find a seat for the show. All the faculties and the CSA put on amazing events that you shouldn’t miss taking advantage of. Oftentimes, they even have food at the event, and what’s better than learning and enjoying yourself while getting a free meal? I found a poster to join the Concordia Arts Society and immediately signed up! I didn’t know if I would get the position, but at least I would be able to say I’d tried. Fortunately I did get the position, and now I’m VP Communications and Marketing for the CSA and it has been an incredible journey thus far. I have worked with some of the hardest-working people, and all of them have such kind personalities. I’ve learned all that the CSA does, stuff that I missed out on during my first year. I want to make sure you don’t miss out though, so make sure you keep an eye out for the posters around campus, and follow all the CUE social media accounts (including the CSA) to discover some great events!
I also love reading The Bolt. The editors put their time in to make this a great newsletter. You get to read some great stories and articles. You get to learn about all the on-goings in school through this medium. The best way to get the full experience, however, is to write an article for them. That’s why I’m here, writing and telling you about my experience at Concordia. Each issue has a great deal to offer, and it’s definitely worth your time.
To make a very long story short, take advantage of Concordia. Talk to all the caring people and professors, go to the events, join a club, read The Bolt, and just smile! It will make your university experience so much better.