By Lawrentina D’Souza
On the case of first-year-phobia
After much research, interviewing newly integrated first years, and reflecting on my post high-school jitters; I was able to come up with a list of the 10 biggest fears we have coming in to university — mostly around living in residence. This article is all about putting you on the right track to having the proper tools and mindset to calm your fears, prepare for the next eight months, and adjust to your undergraduate career at the University of Waterloo.
What if I have bad roommate(s)?
Your roommate probably has the same concerns as you and the best way to get along with them is to talk things over. What’s their sleeping schedule like? Do they share groceries? Should there be a chore schedule? What’s their comfort level with noise or guests? These are good things to consider at the start of the year and should be referred to if there are any issues during the term. Worse comes to worst, don’t forget that you have a don you could talk to that could help if you have any roommate conflicts.
How hard will it be to make friends and fit in?
During O-Week alone there are many opportunities to meet people, talk to your res-mates, attend fun events, and explore campus with your peers. Once classes start, you’ll be seeing students from your program in lectures, tutorials, or labs. There are also an endless number of clubs, intramural teams, and student groups you could join if you’d like to meet more people. The campus size and the number of people can be overwhelming at times but there’s a place for everyone and a chance to get to know one another throughout the term.
Do I have what it takes to keep up academically?
The adjustment from high school can be tough academically, but you shouldn’t lose hope if you struggle with your courses. There are in residence resources such as Science Student Help Team, Supported Learning Groups schedule review sessions and Living Learning communities. Your teaching assistants and professors have tutorials and office hours in place for one-on-one questions. If you need help with your papers, there’s the Writing and Communication Centre. Take advantage of your proximity to others in residence and form study groups — there are always resources and people around to help if you need it.
What do I do if I’m homesick or lonely?
If you’re away from home for the first time, in a new country, or haven’t quite made friends yet, do not fear. Try to keep a positive attitude, call home whenever you’re down, immerse yourself in university experiences, and use the support services there for you like your res-mates or don.
What’s up with the meal plan and laundry situations?
General: WatCard money can be used for flex or meal plan dollars. Flex dollars can be used for laundry, printing, and certain restaurants or stores while meal plan dollars can only be used in residence cafeterias and specific campus restaurants like Tim Hortons.
Meal plan: While you’re in residence, all meal plan purchases get a 50 per cent discount due to the 50 per cent service fee deduction at the start of the year. This discount won’t carry forward after first year, but the funds will. Flex dollars can be refilled at Turnkey or online.
Laundry: All residences have washers ($1 flex), dryers ($1 flex), and irons to clean and press your clothes.
Everything is so expensive, what do I do?
Finances can be a concern with tuition and residence fees being high. There’s OSAP, bursaries, and awards you can apply for as well as part time Feds or LEADS job opportunities to make some extra money. Keep on top of your tuition deadlines, take advantage of student discounts, and use apps like Mint or You Need A Budget to track your expenses.