Dear First Year Me

Dear First Year Me

Written by Alana Spira,

Dear First Year Me,
Congratulations! You made it out of high school – Here is a list of Do’s and Don’ts to help you make the most of the next four years.

DO go outside of your comfort zone!
I know it’s cliché, but the most incredible experiences happen in the places you least expect.

DON’T eat only pop-tarts and Mac and Cheese.
I know it’s tempting, but this gets old fast. Throw an apple in there once in a while.

DO travel
Whether its at the Castle, an exchange, or a summer road trip, travel is a great way to change your perspective and learn about the world. Queen’s has some great experiences to broaden your horizons.

DON’T sleep through your Monday morning classes
Even though you hate that 8:30am calculus class, you will be glad you went at the end of the semester when you don’t have to scramble to learn 12 weeks of material in 12 hours.

DO make the most of all the amazing resources on campus
Whether it is the Peer Learning Assistants, who will help you create a study schedule, or the amazing Hillel Director who will help you find your Jewish home on campus. It can be tough being a first year student away from home for the first time. These resources are invaluable to helping you settle into this crazy little City of Kingston and making it your home.

DON’T Overplan 
It is great to have a goal and know where you want to go, but it is equally incredible to find things you are passionate about and see where those leads you. Sometimes the place you end up is a place you least expected, and is better than anything you could have imagined.

DO Get involved in clubs, like Hillel
It is an amazing way to meet some of your best friends and develop strong leadership skills. Hillel was my home away from home, a place where I started as a volunteer and became President. I was inspired by those who came before me, and mentored by those who came after me. I had the resources and support to plan events and create a community on campus. It is through this community that I met some of my best friends – people who share strong Jewish values and a love of meatballs and kugel.

DO Remember to stop and enjoy the experience
You are only in university once. It is easy to get stressed with all the assignments and deadlines, but take a moment to stop and connect with the people around you and the crazy things you only get to do at Queen’s – like walking around all day during Hoco or dancing all night at Bar Mitzvah Bash – it’s amazing how fast four years goes by.

Dear First Year Me, I am so excited for all Queen’s has in store for you. You are going to love it!
Love, Alana, The Bubbie of Hillel

I Wouldn’t Trade it for Anything

I Wouldn’t Trade it for Anything

Written by Sydney Wilson, Media Intern

This past month has been one of much excitement here at Queen’s Hillel. We started off with a new and improved (and incredibly successful) version of our annual Bat/Bar Mitzvah Bash, celebrating our lovely presidents, Charlotte and Remi. With drinks, dancing, and tons of excitement, the night went off perfectly and we’re already gearing up to do it again next year! Besides Bar Mitzvah Bash, we’ve also been active with weekly lunchtime learning sessions and, most recently, an Israeli food cooking night. Students worked in teams to make a delicious dinner of shakshuka, Israeli salad, grilled eggplant, and some other awesome treats.

As a graduating student, spending my final month as a member of Queen’s Hillel has been bittersweet. Four years ago, I came to this school knowing only a few people my own age. Although apprehensive about going to that first Hillel Shabbat, I can still remember how quickly I was accepted into the Queen’s Jewish community and the pride I took in aligning myself with such an inclusive environment. From Frosh Rep to Social Media Intern, I’ve explored many aspects of what Queen’s Hillel has to offer.

I’ve worked alongside two Hillel directors, I’ve seen executive structures shift and evolve, I’ve made friends from every graduating class, and I’ve had my hand in important events from Shabbat dinner to Bar Mitzvah Bash. Throughout the past four years, Queen’s Hillel has truly been a source of stability, fun, education, and friendship for me and I wouldn’t trade those for anything.

Thank you to all of the people who have worked tirelessly to make Hillel our Jewish home on campus. I think I speak for many graduating students when I say we’re going to miss you!

Reflections on an Israel Experience

Reflections on an Israel Experience

Written by Jesse Wolfsohn, Student

Hello, my name is Jesse Wolfsohn. I am a third-year Biochemistry student, who has been involved with Hillel for two years now. Over the summer, I participated in a program in Israel that allowed me to become a medical responder and volunteer with Magen David Adom, the ambulance services in Israel. This was a fantastic experience that allowed me to experience the “true Israel” through living independently in a foreign culture, as well as helping Israelis from all walks of life. A case I thoroughly enjoyed involved taking a woman who was in labour to the hospital. She was squeezing my hand the whole time. I was overcome with such “Naches” knowing that I was helping and supporting someone in bringing a new life to this world. There were many events which provoked thoughts about the human experience. For example, one of my favourite cases involved helping a man who had fallen down to get back into his bed. An action like that was simple and yet meant so much. The sincerity that I felt in the “thank you” was immensely powerful, and that was such an amazing gift in itself.

The work involved a lot of on-the- spot, critical thinking and leadership, both of which are skills that can be used for organizing activities through Hillel. Furthermore, the experience gave foresight with regards to seeing individuals for who they are at heart as human beings, and not for external appearance. This perspective is something that I hope everyone at Hillel and the greater campus can share!

For more information about my experience, please check out an article that I wrote for the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, as well as a Queen’s Journal article in which I was featured!