Dear First Year Me

Dear First Year Shira, Here are 10 things you should know upon entering your first year of university:

  1. The meal plan is your friend BUT pizza does not make for a balanced diet, especially when it is eaten 3 meals a day.
  2. Meet with Profs – they have the most incredible knowledge that they want to share!
  3. DON’T SKIP CLASS It is a slippery slope!
  4. Get involved with clubs – this is the best way to make friends with those who have similar interests to you! University is BIG – and meeting people can be hard – this is a quick way to make new friends AND do something you love and are passionate about!
  5. Do a thesis – find a topic you love and explore it in depth. With the help of your supervisor, you will think in new ways and gain skills that will help you in future academic and non-academic pursuits!
  6. ENJOY THE PROCESS – it is not ONLY about the piece of paper at the end but also about the experiences you have and will share with those around you!
  7. LET YOUR GUARD DOWN – this is the time to try new things and realize who you really are – focus on building your strengths! You have something special to contribute and the next four years will be your journey to help you find out what that is!
  8. Be a student both in AND out of class! You can learn from everything you do! Make each ‘new experience’ into a learning opportunity, and it can be anything from laundry, cooking, choosing housemates, picking classes, to trying a new sport.
  9. Find one activity JUST FOR YOU! This is not a résumé-boosting exercise, but rather something that is PURE joy – a release where you can feel energized and inspired!
  10. Realize the support and community you have and will always have. Whether it is your first day or your last week of undergrad, it is NEVER too late to join Hillel! In my first year, I went to the Hillel bagel brunch and met four of my closest friends from undergrad! It was at Hillel that I found my home away from home, my comfort zone, my challah and kiddish, my passion for dancing to Bar Mitzvah tracks, and the opportunity to explore various avenues of Judaism. It was at Hillel that I got involved and was given the chance to take initiative – with resources and a team behind me to ensure that I felt inspired and supported every step of the way. Hillel is a place to go when things are good, bad, and ugly – not only when you feel alone, afraid, stressed, but also when you want to have fun, eat, and dance. Know that if you don’t go in your first week, month, year, it is NEVER too late – there will ALWAYS be a warm hug, friendly smile, and handful of “bamba” waiting for you!

Love, Shira, The Graduate


Written by Shira Druker, a graduate student at UofT.