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Terae Walters

SFU Student Undergraduate
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication › Media Relations
Local Co-op

A group of people sitting in front of a stage with a Welcome banner on the side.
Courtesy of the SFU Image Library

As a young adult, starting university can be one of the most intimidating journeys you will ever have to experience. Not only are there major decisions involved, but your future is dependent on what you do within these next few years. It can also be some of the best years of your life where you will make memories that will last forever. My goal is to provide you an insightful and realistic view of what my first semester at SFU was like and what you can possibly expect. I hope to ease your fears and help you better prepare yourself for the near future.

When I first started here at SFU, I was lucky enough to already have two years of prior university experience under my belt. Nonetheless, I was still extremely intimidated to be commuting an hour to a campus I had never been to, surrounded by people I didn’t know. One of the most important things to remember is that there are always people around you that are going through similar situations. Don’t feel bad for feeling intimidated. For your first week, it’s always a good idea to be over-prepared. Make sure you have all your proper supplies, that you know your route to campus and have your schedule. Before the official start day of the semester, come up a day early with a friend and locate where all your classes and tutorials are going to be. I highly recommend doing this because it not only allows you to find out where everything is, but you avoid the commotion of the first day. Nothing feels worse than running around campus in a panic trying to make it on time for your first week.

If you are still finding that you are struggling to locate things, there are people all around that are there to assist you. Most universities also have extensive campus maps that are available online and very easy to follow along.If you are outgoing like me, asking another student can be helpful and you can even make a friend! SFU has so many great resources that can help with your transition to university. SFU 101 is a course that assists in preparing you to be successful on your new journey, and is a great opportunity to help you feel the most prepared.

Map of the SFU Burnaby Campus
Map of the SFU Burnaby Campus

One thing I wish I did in my first semester was branch out to more students around me that were taking similar courses. Fortunately, SFU has so much to offer in terms of community, team environment and collaboration. Being in group chats or participating in group study sessions is extremely helpful and it really assisted in making me feel more prepared for exams and presentations. It made me realize that everyone around me was going through similar situations and eased my anxiety. Tutorials are also a great way to branch out because it’s a much smaller group of people in comparison to your regular class size. It provides you with the opportunity for some one-on-one help with your TA and the chance to make friends as well. As part of the SFU 101 introduction course, there is also a program called The HIVE, which places you in a small group of people that are part of the same faculty as you. Make sure to capitalize on all the diverse clubs, organizations, and teams that SFU has to offer. There are also spacious areas to study, relax, unwind, lots of options for food and drinks, a large variety of people and an overall very welcoming environment. Your university experience isn’t just about doing your courses and graduating as fast as possible. It’s about gaining valuable knowledge and learning new things about yourself along the way.

One of my biggest tips for starting a new semester or going to university for the first time is to stay organized. This might seem obvious, but it can be surprisingly easy to fall into bad habits. There is nothing worse than forgetting a due date or deadline and falling behind in your courses. SFU does a fantastic job at providing helpful and organized apps such as SFU Snap and SFU Vault that help keep track of where your classes are located, semester calendars, important events, email reminders etc. Plus there are great online resources such as a university prep course, and a space for new undergraduates to find everything they need to know. Make sure to utilize these tools because they are only there to assist you. I combined my personal email with my SFU email on my iPhone so everything school-related went into my main inbox and I didn’t have to log into separate accounts constantly. Although it is easy to make notes on your laptop or smartphone device, these can easily get mixed in with other documents. I keep separate paper notebooks for my courses, and I bring them with me everywhere just in case I need to write something down. I also colour code different courses with different highlighters to make it easier for myself to flip back and forth to find certain topics. These tools are completely subjective, but these are my best tips for what helped me stay organized during my first year.

Even as I return to campus for my fourth semester, I still feel nervous as if it was my first day. If I were to give any piece of advice, it would be to stay organized and embrace everything your school has to offer. You are not only furthering yourself in terms of your education and future career but also as a person. Take a breath, relax, and trust yourself to do great things! Nothing good comes from overthinking and you must trust that the people around you want your success just as much as you do. Good luck!

  • Terae Walters Sep 23, 2021
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Terae Walters

SFU Student Undergraduate
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication › Media Relations
Local Co-op

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