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First-year reflections

Gazette student columnist looks back on her university experience thus far

Student Life

By Madilyn Miller

I remember graduating from high school in June 2021.

The second I walked across the stage, I had this thought in my mind that everything was over now, that every moment I had wanted to experience (besides prom) was gone, high school was over, and everything was more scary now.

I still didn’t know how I did in the international baccalaureate exams then, I still hadn’t moved back to Canada after living in Norway for three years, I had not taken any steps towards where I am now at that point in my life.

And now here I am, at the end of my second semester of my first year. What has university been like for someone who knew nothing about it before?

Good and bad

I’ll start first with MUN itself.

MUN is not without its problems. From the deferred maintenance to the outcry over the tuition increases, these issues have been brought to the forefront several times even in my two semesters here.

I cannot get accommodations for my learning without a doctor’s note, which can be difficult as many students have difficulty getting diagnosed for any learning disability or mental illness.

When we are not getting the help we need, and are not able to even ask for it without an official diagnosis, university workloads get harder to deal with. These issues have not gone unnoticed by students and faculty.

There are good things about MUN, too, though. I have had some incredible professors who have been kind, understanding or even tough on me when I needed it. I had more freedom than I did in high school to study what I like, to have more free time, to get extensions easier.

As a writer and in-process novelist as well, I was only able to academically learn creative writing for the first time in university (which presents a much more complicated issue of the lack of appreciation and care for artistically inclined students studying language arts in high school, but I digress).

I have met many people who are like-minded to me, and also people who are not, which facilitates some really interesting conversations.

Worth it?

It has been almost bewildering at times, and nothing I learned in high school could have prepared me for what this is like.

University is intense, it is lonely and isolating, it is hard, but is it worth it?

Sometimes I didn’t think it was; when I was numb from the stress, it didn’t feel worth it at all.

Additionally, you can feel especially left out when you don’t live on residence, like me, because you are essentially missing a fundamental part of the revered “university experience.”

The stress is intense (especially for students who study engineering), and the imposter syndrome some students experience is difficult to handle.

I will not deny any of these things, and I will not say that the education we receive can negate any of these things; university is all of these things and the good things, too.

Get out what you put in

Overall, I think university is what you make of it. But the good things and bad things don’t go away either, so be warned that there are pre-existing conditions, too.

Anyway, I wish you all the best of luck on your university journey. Take care everyone!

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