Hi Nanmo,

When I was asked to write an article for CINEC to share my first year experience in university, I still couldn’t believe I’m a Nanmo alumna now. It’s like yesterday I was still sitting in one of the fifth floor Grade 12 classrooms in Tianyaoqiao Campus, daydreaming about my upcoming uni life; but today I’ve already finished my first year in University of Toronto. I always think of Nanmo when I am in Toronto, and it wasn’t until then that I started to realize what Nanmo had offered me, which is actually very similar to what I’ve learnt in U of T so far: not only education, but the idea of critical thinking, diversity, and inclusion. Now that I’m heading towards my second year, I’d like to share some of my first year experience with you, and I hope you would find it somewhat helpful.

1. Get involved

Most international students will experience loneliness from time to time in their first year abroad, and it sometimes will get worse and even convert into depression if one doesn’t actively seek ways to address it. Many of my friends and my own experience proved that getting involved in a community you feel comfortable with will help you go through the hardship in fitting in a new country to a great extent. No matter if it’s your school sports team, or your residence council, or even a Chinese students association, I’m sure you all will find some sense of belonging from it.

2. Try to figure out what you what to be in 5-10 years

University is more than acing all the courses, but it’s probably the first time when you will be given so much more freedom than anytime in the past, especially when you haven’t decided which specific area you want to focus on in your first year. Year 1 is a fantabulous opportunity for you to explore your interest, see all the possibilities, and choose the one you love from all the options. There will be tons of opportunities and resources out there; go ask, think, and figure out what you like or what you want before you have to make serious decisions. You are what you choose to be.

3. There will be so many things that are way more difficult than university

So don’t feel doomed if you didn’t do well on a single test. No one has a perfect life, we shall all face ups and downs and downs and downs and downs… (University is not that difficult, comparing with life). Always get ready to be challenged, and don’t get too upset when you fail. We will be expected to be more like adults in university, regardless if we want it or not, and it’s critical for us to take responsibility for all the choices we make and all the consequences come after the choices.

And lastly, please always have a good heart.

Wish you all the best in your first year, 
Sabrina Jia