My Septembers at MacEwan University have changed drastically during my four years as a student. It took time, patience, and work to adapt to the new environment. This year was my fourth and last September at MacEwan and I can say that the biggest difference between my first and last Septembers is that I feel comfortable, confident, and safe in MacEwan.
During my first year, as most students, I felt nervous going to university —not because of others’ inevitable judgment of me — but because I was a stranger in an already existing micro society with its separate rules and norms. The campus, the people, the professors, the policies, were all new. During my first year, I was especially intimidated to talk to professors and speak up in class, simply because I thought my professors did not care about what I had to say. I was very careful to ensure that I followed instructions, not to say that I neglect them now, but rather I am confident in my abilities as a student and all the available opportunities I have. I followed the phrase which was said during the open house, “Get involved,” and volunteered with various aspects of MacEwan such as, SAMU, Ambassadors, MacEwan International, Reading Identity, and am now the co-president of MacEwan’s French Club. Getting involved helped me make friends, connections, enjoy my time, and feel comfortable at the university. Along with becoming comfortable at MacEwan, I gained confidence to ask for advice and help from the staff and professors, which was another important aspect of my transition during the four years. Speaking to professors helped me gain valuable knowledge about all the opportunities MacEwan offers, advice regarding graduate schools, and academia in general. Their own experiences as undergraduate students brought home the idea that everyone goes through what I was going through, even if it’s not visually apparent. Most of my friends shared the same feeling of unease and strangeness I had. However, by the end of my first year, most of my worries had dissolved.
The biggest transition moment for me was during my third year, because I think I found a balance, if that is ever possible, between my studies, involvement in university’s activities, and personal life. I knew exactly how and who to speak to if I needed help. I felt a sense of calmness, not from my studies, but from knowing that I could always get help if something went wrong. This also gave me a sense of safety within the university. I was always one of those people who enjoyed attending university. Despite that, during the first two years, there was a sense of unease when going to university. However, by the time this fourth September came around, I was surprisingly looking forward to going back to MacEwan, where I felt comfortable, confident, and safe.
As my Septembers at MacEwan progressed, the sense of pressure disappeared and I gained a strange feeling of belonging to this university. It is quite the transition from feeling completely foreign to a place and it becoming your second home. However, none of this would have been possible if it was not for MacEwan’s kind and helpful population. In most cases, I got help when I asked for it from students, staff, or professors. My adaptation experience was partly due to my own involvement in the university, but another large part of it was MacEwan’s willingness to accept me as a student.
After a month of my fourth September, I feel happy and responsible at the same time. Happy in that it is my last year and I can graduate soon. Responsible in that I want to pursue graduate school, which requires me to have a high GPA. I feel that it is easier to study now than it was four years ago, despite the heavy workload, because I can focus on my studies and get the help I need without having to worry about being intimidated.
If I can give a piece of advice to those of you who are starting MacEwan or have just survived their first September is that the feeling of nervousness and non-belonging are inevitable, but that you must remember that you share those feelings with thousands of new MacEwan students. Most importantly, MacEwan will help you adapt in ways which you may not immediately recognize, but will certainly understand by your third of fourth year.