One of the most common questions that upperclassmen receive from first years is: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were in first year? The short answer? A lot! From advice on completing assignments and resources available to help you power through the year, to events and activities happening throughout the year that can make your first year memorable.
First year is full of one thing: learning. Learning how to manage time efficiently and effectively, learning how to tackle readings and lectures according to your needs, learning every day. If you feel like you’re coming into this experience knowing absolutely nothing, don’t worry. A lot of us still struggle at times but we continue to learn. The easiest way for you to take control of your first year is to tackle it one week at a time. So, here are some things you can do/keep in mind during your first month or so to make your first year at Brescia a little easier to manage.
Talk to your professors | They’re here to help you, not scare you
This one can be hard. Sometimes professors can appear intimidating; especially during the first week. You feel like they have all these expectations for you, and they can say some pretty scary-sounding things; “This exam is only worth 45% of your grade,” “No computers allowed during lecture,” “This class is 10% participation”. Eventually you’ll realize that everything your professor does is to help you succeed. If you show initiative, and you work hard on your own, your professors will be more than happy to help you with that essay you’re struggling with, or help you study for that upcoming, 45% exam. With Brescia’s small class sizes, you’ll find it much easier to build relationships with your professors. So, take note of your professor’s office hours and email, and utilize them. There’s no need to struggle alone here.
Make connections | Be bold
While it’s very important to build relationships with your professors, it’s just as important to build friendships. You might feel like you don’t have time to socialize; and while that might be the case sometimes, it can be detrimental to your wellbeing to go through your first year alone. I know you’re nervous; but remember that everyone is. There’s nothing better than being nervous together. Grabbing a coffee at the Bottega, having lunch at the Mercato, and even studying in the Beryl Ivey Library can be made a little more enjoyable with some friendly company. It can even help knowing someone who’s going through similar things to you. Put yourself out there in your first classes, and don’t be afraid to approach people. Make a friend, be a friend.
Make use of Brescia and Main Campus resources | Brescia is here to help
Brescia alone has a plethora of resources for you to take advantage of. Combined with what’s available at Main Campus, there are hundreds of resources that come included in your tuition. There are resources to help you when you feel your mental health and wellness are at stake (those can be found here), all kinds of academic and financial support available at The Hive, writing support at Brescia’s Writing Centre, and, at the Student Life Centre, there are people there to help you with: your professional development, your transition into university, involvement opportunities, as well as with your mental health and wellbeing. One of the most helpful resources you can use, especially if you’re struggling financially, is the library. If textbooks are too much of a financial burden, the many libraries across the campuses just might have a copy for you to borrow for a couple of hours at a time. Photocopying individual readings can be cheaper than purchasing the whole book!
The people who help make these resources available to you want them to be utilized. When those first year jitters start to kick in, don’t be scared to seek help, no matter your struggle. Remember your resources during your time at Brescia.
Join a club or find an upcoming event | University should never be all work and no play
Everyone has their own individual interests and hobbies. Whether it be an academic or personal interest, Brescia has a club for you– and if not, you can start it yourself! New clubs pop up all the time, and between what both Brescia and Main Campus has to offer, you’re bound to find something that sparks your interest. Although clubs week has just passed, it’s never too late to join!
Every week there are all kinds of events and activities happening around campus. Keep your eye on the Brescia Events Calendar, the posters up on the walls and bulletin boards to see what events you can look forward to each month. Spend a day of your first week here jotting down some events that might interest you so you have some things to look forward to.
Here’s some advice directly from Brescia students:
“I wish I knew to email a professor if I’m struggling with an assignment. To not just brave it out alone.” — Rebecca Seaby
“I wish I knew how helpful the people at The Hive were. I struggled with program planning and they simplified it.” — Lydia Balogh
“Utilize, utilize, utilize the resources at Brescia and on main campus that are there to help you succeed academically!” — Kylie Gonsalves
“The shuttle service is great if you want to look for new study spaces and relax.” — Meagan Munn
“Take advantage of your professors’ office hours and after class hours.” — Danica Skakavac
We’ve all been where you are: the O-Week festivities are over, you’ve had your last tour of campus, and you’re ready to buckle down and study for your first midterms. It’s okay to be nervous and it’s okay to not know exactly what to do, because that’s what this experience is all about. University is more than just sitting in lectures, taking notes, and writing exams; it’s about finding yourself, building independence, and learning what works for you in many aspects of your life. No one is an expert in the art of attending university, but there are many things you can do for yourself in your first week here that can make your experience at Brescia a little easier. If you ever find yourself wondering how you’re going to make it through this, just remember: take it one week at a time.
Riya Alsabak | firstname.lastname@example.org