June 23, 2016

5 Lessons From a University Graduate

Five years. Five years of hard work and fun times have led up to this moment. Earlier this week, I officially graduated from university with two undergraduate degrees. As I reflect back upon these years, I have a number of reminders I would like to pass on to those who are still in education:

1. Don't be afraid to leave home


If you have the capacity to attend university in another city - do it. I could not be more grateful for my parents' support in allowing me to move across the country for education. If I hadn't moved away, I would not have had the pleasure of attending arguably one of Canada's biggest and most beautiful university campuses. While I did break down in tears from panic and fear after saying goodbye to my parents, a mere one week later, I was thoroughly enjoying my independence. I learned what it's like to take control of my life, and experienced the consequences (both good and bad) of my actions and decisions. I ultimately came to appreciate all that my parents had done for me, and by the time I returned home after graduation, I had a new sense of maturity. There is also something special about living on campus. I was never forced to leave the campus environment at the end of my day. For years, I was surrounded by friends and fellow students 24/7 - and I wouldn't have had it any other way.


2. Meet people





















Get out. Meet people. Talk to people. Despite being a horribly shy and awkward girl, I highly recommend meeting people during university. I met one of my friends after she spontaneously decided to sit beside me in the cafeteria. I have another friend I met after sharing a cab from the airport. I have friends from clubs, residences, and my two programs. Not everyone you meet will become your BFF, but even that brief chat with a stranger in the elevator will stay with you as a memory of how great the campus environment is. You don't need to have a lot of friends - just good ones. There won't be many other opportunities in life where thousands upon thousands of people pack themselves onto one campus. It's astounding how everyone is on their own individual paths, and yet here we all are, coming together for education. The diversity on campus is incredible. Take the time and muster up the courage to learn about other people's life stories.

3. Follow your dreams





















University is not the place to be doing something you don't want to do. Do something you're passionate about, because that is the only thing that will ever truly motivate you. Never stop listening to what your heart tells you to do. Whether you find the answer in your existing program, in another program, or outside of university altogether, pursue it. If you have absolutely no idea what your dreams even are - relax. There are many in the same boat as you. Make the effort to explore and find yourself. I was lucky enough to be able to fulfill my goals at university, and I want to see you walk away from university feeling as if you're on your way to achieving your own dreams.

4. Do your own thing





















In high school, I graduated with an International Baccalaureate diploma. In university, I graduated with a degree from a business school with limited enrollment. For years, I have spent my time surrounded by incredibly intelligent high-achievers - people I know I will be seeing headlines about in the future. While I adore such an environment, it comes with its own difficulties. There were many times I felt like the "admission mistake". A girl walking through hallways she didn't belong in. But I realized that no matter what everyone else is doing, Have no shame if your goals are different from those around you. Don't be intimidated by those you consider more successful than you. Everyone has their own definition of success, so never let other people's goals define your own. This goes beyond education. If you don't like partying every weekend, then don't. Never feel pressured to. Stay in and huddle under your blankets for a night of Netflix. You'll be happiest when you do what you want to do. The university experience should not be wasted chasing after other people's definition of happiness instead of your own.

5. Seize the moment





















One of my wise, beautiful, amazing BFFs (who is currently backpacking across South America for 4.5 months - love ya girl, safe travels!) sent me a letter in the mail this year. While the entire letter had me tearing up, one passage in particular stood out to me. I will let her words do the talking:

"Never delay happiness. It isn't compounded. It doesn't multiply with time. It simply slips through your fingers if it isn't accessed in the moment. Don't be afraid to make mistakes; they are the best way to learn and they serve to be marvellous stories afterwards. Live the life you would be proud of on your deathbed. Don't waste time being sorry. Life is so short - if it isn't lived, it will be a wasted life."

I've had five years to live out my university experience, but the approaching end didn't hit me until my final month. In that month, I made sure I appreciated and enjoyed every last second. For many, undergraduate education is a once in a lifetime opportunity. My dad tells me his college years were among the best years of his life, and I know he is right. The last thing you want to do on your final day is look back and realize you regret not having enjoyed university to its fullest. I understand that marks are stressful - there were days when my head felt like it was going to explode from all the pressure. Recognize that stress is a natural part of education, but never forget university provides much more than that. Absorb everything university has to offer: clubs, friendships, events, a community... For me, I made sure to admire how beautiful my campus was every single time I stepped foot in it. I may never get another chance to walk among the gorgeous ivy-covered stone buildings with the same comforting sense of belonging as I did as a student - and so I seized the moment. I hope during your university journey, you will find ways to do the same.

Dress: Topshop | Shoes: Calvin Klein | Necklace: Unknown


























This moment is certainly bittersweet. Five years ago this milestone seemed so far in the horizon, and yet here I stand, already on the other side. Goodbyes are difficult, but as Winnie-the-Pooh once said, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." As I close the book on this chapter in my life with a tender smile, I look forward to what lays ahead of me. There are more moments to experience, more friends to make, and more happiness to be gained. The future? I say, bring it on.

Image Source: PublicDomainArchive, Favim, Pexels

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