The New Class is a web series which follows a group of new students as they experience Memorial University’s St. John’s campus throughout the 2016-17 academic year.
The series offers an insider’s view into the opportunities and challenges new students face during their first year on campus, and features 10 students from across the province and around the world.
Meet Sierra Walker
Sierra is 18 years old and comes to Memorial from Toronto, Ont. Sierra is pursuing a bachelor of science and is especially interested in earth sciences. She lives on campus in Doyle House, Paton College.
The Gazette caught up with Sierra to get to know her a little better.
What are you enjoying most about university life?
The things I’m enjoying most about university life would have to be the sense of community you gain from the students. I’ve yet to encounter a rude and unhelpful person. Everyone is very willing to support each other. The thing I love the most about the students is they want to bring you up and help you instead of introducing a competitive atmosphere. I also enjoy the independence of university life. I’ve learned more here about myself than I have in my 18 years in Toronto.
What do you find most challenging about university life?
I find the pace of the classes a lot more difficult than that of high school. Coming straight from high school, I was almost culture shocked by how fast the profs go in terms of course material. We could be doing a chapter a day while you’re still focused on trying to understand the last few chapters.
I also find getting to know the kids in my classes a lot more difficult. For someone shy, it’s very easy to not make any friends here unless you put in the effort and take charge in introducing yourself to others in your classes. You also must expect your marks to go down drastically. A 70 per cent grade is a good mark here and I wasn’t prepared for the effect that would have on my self esteem. In the past, my biggest pride was my grades, and doing your best in class just isn’t enough anymore. You really have to dedicate yourself to your major to see the good grades and I began coming out of that learning curve more than halfway into the semester.
How is campus life (or life in St. John’s) different from what you’re used to?
Life in St. John’s is a polar opposite to that of Toronto. People seem to be less stressed, there is much less of an intensity to constantly be working and getting things done. There is also a sense of calmness surrounding the residents of St. John’s. It’s not rushed here and I absolutely love it. On the other hand, though, the transit system is not the best and it takes a while to get anywhere in the city without a cab driver. Things are also not as immediate here. In Toronto, I could call up any restaurant and they would deliver me food or I could hop on the subway and be downtown in five minutes. It’s hard adjusting to a simpler life but moving to St. John’s was honestly the best thing I’ve ever done.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I like to hang out with my friends. I have a very tight rat pack of friends who I wouldn’t trade for the world. I also love to listen to music. Back in T.O. I was very big into the indie music scene and so a lot of my time is dedicated to finding local small bands and listening to them or researching other talent across the world. I also have a fish named Leonard (Cohen) and two plants who I love. Other than that, it’s hard to have free time here. Most of my time is spent doing homework or working on assignments — not much time to do anything outside of that.
What are you hoping to accomplish at Memorial?
At Memorial, I am hoping to get my degree in earth sciences and have a great time along the way. Right now, the hardest thing is adjusting to the work load as first year is worlds away from high school. There is so much more expected of you and trying to meet those expectations is a challenge.
I’m also hoping to join some clubs or start volunteering in my second year. First year is just getting used to my environment but hopefully in my second year, once I’m officially acclimated, I’d like to work with the Botanical Garden or something along those lines. Honestly, my biggest accomplishment at Memorial would be finding out who I am and learning what it is I’m passionate about. Hopefully, with a good grade here or there.
Watch the latest webisodes of The New Class on our YouTube channel at memorialuniversity.