It has been nearly two months since I finished my final exams, and about three weeks since I crossed the stage and received my diploma. It has been almost five years since I moved into residence at UBC and embarked on my undergraduate journey.
The actual “graduation” happened very quickly – I was scurried across the stage and had some photos taken in rapid succession, with more being quickly taken by family after the ceremony. However, the process of getting to the stage has been longer and is what made the brief hat-and-gown stroll so significant.
1st year: I returned home from residence the first night I was to stay there, and skipped my Arts student frosh event. My friends came to visit me and made me feel like not all hope was lost in this new place that I was meant to call a home. I went to my first event and someone said “hi” to me and I said “hi” back and we chatted and he introduced me to someone else who said “hi” and we became friends. Confused and lost, I attended “Imagine UBC” with my “M.U.G. Leader” guide and witnessed a large and daunting place be just that but with life pulsing through it with swarms of colour-coded students bustling about. A really amazing 8 months of my young adult life was beginning.
Highlights and successes included friends, football, being able to say I took Gateman’s course, earning a spot on the TPRA, moving to 5th floor, exercise, newly vegetarian.
Pitfalls and frustrations included emotional turmoil (what would I be without it?), not quite getting a hang of the studenting thing, that one all-nighter, applying to be an RA (and being “alt listed”).
A lot happened between first year and fifth year that shaped where I am now. I want to focus on those changes, but a few highlights from those years at UBC:
2nd year: TPRA, love, bidding successfully for the RHA, applying to be an RA (“designate pool”), losing connection with important people.
3rd year: RHA, dropped to 4 courses per term, academics became more enjoyable, met new long-time friends, a kitchen, love, football, applying to be an RA (hired in-person by chance encounter), green smoothies, feminism with new language.
4th year: RA, academics continue to be a better experience, winning football, love, applying to be an RC and PRCA (rejected and designate pool, respectively), Popsicle and P.J., NRHH, new minor in GRSJ, Library Student Advisory Committee (hi future supervisor).
5th year: This is the year they call the “victory lap”, the year where you take more courses when you could have, in theory, finished up in four years. My academic experience shows a trend of significant change for the better with fewer courses each term, so I took only 3 each term this year. I lived off of campus for the first time and baked a lot of banana bread with the roommate. The summer leading to this year was important, too; this year has been one of “shifts” for me, and that summer was big for mental, confidence shifts. I was tested emotionally and psychologically a great deal, and I believe many things have come out for the better on the other end. I helped plan Imagine UBC for nearly 10,000 new UBC students and worked with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met! The school year was coursework, life-planning struggles, a part-time job (or 2), and multiple extracurriculars. I learned how and struggled to execute technology in the world of radio. I faced some big decisions (and still am facing them) and graduated with that fancy paper.
Highlights: Her Campus at UBC (gold, pink, Showcase Award), All Access Pass on CiTR, CSI&C, love, no “in nights”, academics on the rise, applying to be an RC (and receiving that sought-after phone call), Storm the Wall – Iron Woman, FYE2015, reconnecting with friends, confidence boosting through activities, I graduated.
Lowlights: Late and unpredictable “shifts”, no football, moving out of an overly-full apartment, frequent and steady emotional rollercoastering, graduating…
Over the last five years, I’ve become more independent and at times even more indecisive and I’ve lost closeness in some friendships that I miss and I have made connections that have lifted me and challenged me and helped guide me. I see a lot of my current self in my first-year self, but I now see someone who can write a research proposal, who can balance work and school and family/friends and extracurriculars, who can no longer deny the reality of eventually needing to make a decision about what happens after university.
I have a plan for 9 months of the next 12, but it will be an emotionally difficult 9 months wherein I will apart from one important person and I will be again contemplating what the next steps are. This role will be an important opportunity for me to grow personally and professionally, but I must continue to listen to thoughts that say things like “I could see myself doing that” or “this is really gratifying” and to pay attention to times that I get “the feels.” If I like something and don’t feel very good at it, I must remind myself that I could just not be good at it yet, and that I can deliberately work at it until I am better.
These were five big years, and I anticipate the next five will be pivotal in a whole other way.
Happy graduation, friends!