I still remember starting my first semester at Concordia, almost five years ago. Back then, a few of the floors in the H Building were still under construction; Reggie's was a sticky-floored, cheap student bar; and I was fresh from CEGEP, full of hopes and naiveté.
My first semester in university was a bit of a bumpy ride (like all things in life, TBH), and to say I didn't know what I was doing at first is the understatement of the century. Eventually, I got the hang of it, and became a self-certified Concordia pro (I was even a campus tour guide for a while!)... but even today, I wish my first semester had gone a bit smoother.
If you're hoping for the same for your first semester, then no worries. Although I truly believe that everyone should go out on their own and experience/learn for themselves, well, there are a few thing that might be cool to keep in mind.
1. I wish I knew that Loyola is, like, really far.
The shuttle bus that runs from SGW to Loyola takes about 20 minutes of travel time, so that's not too bad. But if you need to get there on your own and you live far, maybe avoid taking an 8 A.M. Loyola class.
2. And really confusing.
If you're used to the layout of the downtown (SGW) campus, then Loyola might seem like a jumbled mess of buildings. But no worries; you get the hang of it quick.
3. I wish I knew that once you do get used to it, it's actually the best campus.
A beautiful and peaceful campus right in one of Montreal's most vibrant suburbs? Um. Yes, please.
4. I wish I knew that it's absolutely nothing like CEGEP.
In CEGEP, you can probably skip a couple of classes, do none of the readings, and still manage to pass. Try that shit at university, friend - it does not work.
5. I wish I knew that it's way too easy to spend all your money downtown.
Between the Bookstore (where my fellow office supply addicts at?), the malls, and the restaurants, your money might be gone before you know it. Suggestion: pack a lunch from home and check out the specials available for Concordia students.
6. I wish I knew that it's totally normal to stay at the library until 2 AM.
Concordia's libraries are open 24/7 during the fall and winter semesters, so it's totally normal to stay at the library working on a paper until the wee hours of the morning. Don't feel weird about it... and try your best to secure a spot not too far away from the bathrooms.
7. I wish I knew that finding your favourite cafe to study at is a major key.
There are literal tons of cafes near Concordia's campuses. Find one you love and go there whenever the libraries are full (which will happen around midterms and finals), or when you're feeling restless from staying in the library too long. Switching up your study space is super helpful for retaining more information, in my experience.
8. I wish I knew that if the struggle for lunch is too real, the People's Potato has got you covered.
100% free vegan lunches on the 7th floor of the H Building? Yes. Please. Always.
9. I wish I knew that there are printers actually everywhere, but you still need to get on printing those articles ASAP.
Because articles take forever to print, and also because there are hundreds of other students, just like you, who need to print 32 page scholarly articles.
10. I wish I knew that you can use the underground tunnels at SGW to get to most of your classes, which is super helpful - especially if it's snowing.
You can get from H to LB to MB to EV, to Le Gym, and to many more places, all by using the underground tunnels and avoiding any above-ground interaction. Gracias, Concordia.
11. I wish I knew that it's probably a lot prettier to just walk outside.
The tunnels are great, but you don't totally need to use them to get around. Most SGW buildings are concentrated within a few blocks, so taking the scenic route won't hurt.
12. I wish I knew that the Greenhouse is gorgeous, quiet, and the perfect place to study/chill.
You can access it by taking the elevator to the top floor of H, and then walking up a flight of stairs. Trust, if you want peace and quiet and you're down to study in a unique setting, you need to get yourself here.
13. I wish I knew that it's okay to hand in a late assignment, and it's even okay to fail a class... but don't make a habit of it.
Honestly, life happens. Sometimes you can't get your paper in on time. Sometimes you mess up and fail a whole class, but don't let that stress you out a ton. Accept your mistakes, learn how to correct them, and move TF on to your beautiful future.
14. I wish I knew that speaking up in class is one of the best things you can do.
Literally the most basic thing to keep in mind, but also the hardest thing to do sometimes. It can be super intimidating to speak up in class and ask questions, but at the end of the day, you'll be helping yourself out in a big way if you do this. Plus, it just might just help you stand out to your prof - and in a class with at least 60 other people, that's what you need to do.
15. I wish I knew that attending a Stingers game is honestly some of the most fun you can have.
Hands down, there's nothing like grabbing some friends, getting dow to the Stingers Dome, and watching your fave team kick some ass.
16. I wish I knew that a laptop is not exactly a necessity.
Depending on your program, a lot of Concordians choose to use the pen-and-paper method for note-taking. If your laptop is too heavy to carry around, then don't stress about buying a lighter one - you might just be fine using a notebook and a pen.
18. I wish I knew that Concordia is actually full of resources for students.
If you're looking for an on-campus job, looking to get involved in a student group, looking for legal advice, looking for mediation services - well, Concordia's got you covered. All you need to do is find out where you have to go for help, because the chances are very high that help for you is available.
19. I wish I knew that going to all the parties is a good and bad thing.
My first semester, I was overwhelmed with frosh activities and pub crawls and orientation week activities. It was fun, until I started falling behind readings and lectures; so, IMO, it's probably better to only go to 1 or 2 awesome events and spend the rest of your time making sure you're prepped AF for the semester.
20. I wish I knew that dropping classes is not the worst thing you can do.
Personally, I was scared AF that dropping classes would reflect badly on me. But if you realistically feel like you can't handle a course load, get out of it. A dropped class is better than a failed class.
21. I wish I knew that uni is difficult AF... But so, so worth it.
Not going to lie, university life is difficult. It takes a lot of dedication, and it's easy to slip up. But you can get through it if that's what you truly want to do; and at the end of your university career, you'll look back with nothing but pride.