Student Life

What advice would you give your first-year self?

Elli Slavitch, Creative Director: You pick your path

It’s important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for learning, working, or doing anything for that matter. Although there may seem to be prescribed a ‘McGill experience’ you should always stay true to your own interests. This principle applies to students, teachers, and administrators alike; not everyone is here with the same goals in mind, and not everyone needs to accomplish the same set of tasks. Though we may not all follow the same path, what’s best is for us to support one another’s divergent ambitions as we move through university.

Marie Labrosse, Editor-in-Chief: Slow and steady wins the race

I am, by nature, a slow person. All of the decisions I make—from the colour of my notebook to the destination of my semester abroad—take a painstaking amount of time. I used to find this frustrating, trying desperately to rush through my assignments at a breakneck speed and throwing myself into activities without really taking the time to think if they were the right fit for me. As a result, my grades suffered and I wasn’t even that happy outside of the classroom. With the constant flurry of stimuli surrounding new students, it can be difficult to take a step back and discern where your place in the community is. It took me the best of three years to find out where I belonged at McGill, but my slow and deliberate search is what helped me cross the finish line.

Ariella Garmaise, Managing Editor: Clean your room

Jordan Peterson and my mom have admonished me for my messy room ad nauseam, and I wish I had listened. My first year at McGill was consumed by academic and social tribulations—I switched from Management to English Literature, started writing for the Tribune, and discovered Les Trois Minots Karaoke, only to be asked never to return a mere three months later. Amidst all the excitement, my room was disgusting. Finding friends, classes, and extracurriculars you like can feel daunting, but it’s a process made much easier by having a space to rest and think. Maybe “clean your room” is a metaphor for remembering to slow down and take time for yourself, but, on a much more practical level, it’s easier to make friends when your dorm doesn’t smell weird. Also, all your clothes look better when they’re not on the floor.

Stephen Gill, Managing Editor: Remember to reflect and prospect

One of the first things you notice about being a McGill student is that everything moves quickly: Professors, students, and motorists in high-foot-traffic areas. Unfortunately, this blazing pace is a fact of McGillian life, and it comes without any guiding principle to tell you how to hold on for the ride. You can’t stop the clock, but it is helpful to devote time to planning and contemplating instead of doing. Even having a vague idea of what you’d like to accomplish in a given day, week, or month allows you to allocate your time much more effectively, both in terms of productivity and fulfillment. Critically pondering what you have enjoyed, inside and outside of the classroom, helps you view your future through a clearer lens.

Katia Innes, Arts & Entertainment Editor: Climb a roof

If there is one thing I wish I had done earlier in my first year, it would be to climb to the roof of 506 Avenue des Pins. The view stretches past campus to Old Port, so you can just barely catch a glimpse of the Farine Five Roses sign. Honestly, just climb more roofs. I have yet to find a roof I haven’t liked, so I implore everyone to keep their eyes to the skies and always wear shoes with good grips in anticipation of potential building-scaling situations. As I stood there on the roof of the brownstone, my last exam just completed, McGill—and by extension, Montreal—seemed less foreign.

Arshaaq Jiffry, Design Editor: Don’t hide from your demons, destroy them

For a lot of students, university can be a time to reinvent yourself. Indeed, that was my number one goal when I began university, but I realized I had no clue who I was to begin with. I let anxiety and social pressures take control of my life when, in reality, I should’ve trusted myself. If something is genuinely bothering you, consider talking to someone. Don’t hide from your troubles because, eventually, they will catch up to you.

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