We began today’s utmONE Connect session by playing the “ring game”.┬á It is a problem-solving activity and the aim of the game is to try getting the black circle out of the wooden structure. This activity did a marvellous job of bringing out the competitive streak in all of us and collaboratively, we spent almost half an hour trying to figure out a way to solve the given problem. Better than any ice-breaker, the “ring game” brought all of us closer together and allowed us to truly feel part of a team. After two months of time off, the game also allowed me to re-discover the intellectual stimulation provided by the act of problem solving and the joys one gets after figuring out the solution to a rather challenging problem. I envision this school year to be full of opportunities to challenge ourselves and think creatively so as to find innovative solutions to academic and personal problems and I can’t wait to start working on tackling them!

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At the end of the utmONE Connect session, we were asked to write a letter to our future selves describing our current state of mind. We then sealed our letters in an envelope and handed them over to our Connection Leaders to hold onto until the end of the school year. It will be interesting to see how much I will have changed by next April!

future me

For those of you who are curious, here’s how my letter went:

Dear future me,

First of all, because you’re reading this, I’ll assume that you’re still alive and I would like to congratulate you for surviving your first year of university. This is probably your greatest achievement in life so far!

To be frank, I’m not quite sure if I will be able to find words that will accurately describe my current state of mind. My first week at UTM was exciting, interesting, but also exhausting. In high school, we didn’t do any work for two weeks or so as we were eased back into our school routine and I initially thought that the first lecture for each course would be similar and would just consist of the professor introducing himself/herself and explaining the syllabus. However, I soon realized that it wasn’t the case and we started tackling the courses’ core content right away. By Wednesday evening, my agenda was already filled with assignments; from reading two entire chapters of a voluminous textbook to writing a short essay due on Monday morning. I am sad to report that since Monday, I have spent every evening in the library, and there hasn’t been a night that has seen me get home before 9pm. On the bright side, I’m thrilled that I chose to attend an institution with a really nice (and brand new!) library which makes the thought of spending hundreds of hours there somewhat less unappealing. I already consider the “silent section” of the library to be my second home.

Despite the hard work required, I loved most of the lectures. I felt so privileged to be able to listen to fascinating lectures by professors who seemed to be very passionate about their respective fields of study. It seemed as if a whole new intellectual world had opened up and like a sponge, I tried my best to take in everything. Right now, my greatest insecurity is that I won’t meet the expectations that everyone else has set for me. Questions like “Do I really belong in a university?” and “What if I’m not intelligent enough to grasp complex concepts?” are starting to hover in my head. I hope to be able to get those thoughts out of my brain as soon as possible…

Good luck with the next 3 years of university!

Sincerely,

Your past self

Now tell us: What would YOU write in a letter to your future self? ­čÖé

From the time she was a kid, my friend Cathie knew that she wanted to attend the University of British Columbia. I wish I could make a similar statement, but to be completely honest, UTM wasn’t an obvious choice for me. Having lived in Mississauga for the past five years, what I initially wanted more than anything was to go study in a place that would be far away and different. I was so sure of my preferences when it came to choosing a post-secondary institution that I didn’t even bother picking up a UTM brochure at the Ontario University Fair last September. At the insistence of my parents, I nonetheless sent in an application to the Mississauga Campus of the University of Toronto.

Like countless other high school seniors, my family and I spent the march break on a road trip, visiting every university to which I had applied. At that point, I was pretty confident that I would be heading to Ottawa in the fall. Many of my friends were going there and they had offered me a generous scholarship. However, seeing the place in-person was a bit of a disappointment for me. While it was a lovely campus, with majestic buildings and ideally located, I didn’t feel in my place there. I kept thinking that this institution would be a perfect fit for┬ásome people, but it just wasn’t for me. After visiting all the other universities on my list, I was still very uncertain and I was starting to worry.

After we came back from our trip, my parents suggested that we schedule a tour at UTM, as it was the only school that we hadn’t visited yet. So, on a bright Wednesday morning, we made our made to┬á the ┬ácampus, which is just a short drive from my home. As we were parking, I realized that while I had passed by the main entrance of the university countless times, I had never actually been on campus, and I had no idea how the buildings and everything else would look like. Something that I noticed right away was all the greenery surrounding the university. Being a nature lover, I could imagine what a joy it would be to take long walks outside and enjoy the scenery. I also loved the buildings’ modern architecture. The guided tour of UTM couldn’t have gone any better and within half an hour of the tour, I knew that this was where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. I was thrilled to have finally found the right university and very excited at the idea of joining the wonderful University of Toronto family.

Now that we are just a few weeks away from the start of classes, these feelings haven’t faltered, but they are now mixed with anxiety and nervousness. I’m usually pretty good at adapting to new places and situations (I have attended three different high school in the last four years!) but to be honest, this is the most nervous I’ve been since the first day of kindergarten. Being the first one in my entire family to attend university, I really have no idea what to expect and I’m scared to my wits about what will happen on the first day of classes. Somewhat irrational fears are starting to hover in my head. The uncoordinated klutz that I am will probably get lost in the immensity of the UTM campus and arrive late to class. Or worse, trip down the stairs in a lecture hall and embarrass myself in front of hundreds of my classmates. While trying to sweep those unlikely scenarios off my mind, I have also began shopping for school supplies and a new laptop. I never knew that it was possible to experience a mixture of such high levels of anticipation, excitement and anxiety, all at the same time. Stay tuned for more about my first week at UTM…I have the presentiment that it will be full of surprises!