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Any significant times/experiences you’d like to share? Any “elephants in the room”?
Coming to Queen’s Commerce was a huge deal for me (as I am sure it is for most people). There were so many pressures. I was the first person from my hometown to be accepted in the program in five years. I had always been deemed the “smart person” in terms of academics and felt like I had to maintain this persona. My older sister, who my whole life had been considered the “gifted child”, had struggled immensely through her first year at U of T and now I, the less gifted child, had to somehow deal with this – how would I be able to make it through? Furthermore, in the Soo, as I’m sure a lot of other small cities, towns, and rural areas, we grew up thinking that we were nothing in terms of academics compared to the big city, private school kids who all got the best of the best education, built schools in Africa, had run their own businesses, etc. etc. It was a recipe for disaster.

I remember doing the very first assignment in late September and feeling so overwhelmed. I eventually ended up calling my mom and told her that I didn’t think that I was cut out for Commerce or university, in general. Eventually, my mom, aunt, and grandmother convinced me to stick with it and I did end up finishing the assignment.

With that being said, I felt that first year was extremely difficult and I had a number of breakdowns just like this throughout the course of the year.

First year, first semester exams were the worst. Long story short, the pressure resulted in me briefly being hospitalized and I ended up having to defer two exams until after the break. At first, this seemed like the right thing to do because I’d get more time to study and be able to get great marks on those exams. In hindsight, I probably should have written them.

Those two or three weeks during Christmas Break were some of the worst in my life. All I could focus on was the big, bad exams I had to face once I got back to Queen’s. Putting off the exams really increased the significance of them in my head. The only thing I looked forward to during the day was sleeping because it meant I wouldn’t have to deal with the stress. I remember on the Thursday before school started for second semester having a huge breakdown. I told my parents that I didn’t want to go back to Queen’s. I was so set on not coming back because I didn’t think I could make it through the exams…

I’ve never really shared this experience with any one except my very close friends and family, but I think this is one of the reasons why I try to be so helpful to my first year students. In my head, I’m giving huge props to first year students being able to battle through first year so well because I honestly know how shitty it can be. You guys inspire me!

PS: I did come back and I am so, so, so glad I did! I wouldn’t be the person I am today without coming back and facing my fears head on.
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