Students sound off on running late, fighting fear and finding friends

Illustration of two speech bubbles in conversationOkay, technically these stories from our alumni aren’t all fails. And maybe they all didn’t happen on the first day. But they do show that even though the first day, first week, first semester or even the first year of university might be hard, things can still work out just fine.

I went to the wrong class for three weeks. One day I casually brought up the quiz we were about to have to the person sitting beside me, and she looked back at me confused and said we didn’t have a quiz that day. I pointed at my laptop and said, “Look, it’s right here online.” In that moment I realized I was in the right course, but the wrong section. Thankfully, I managed to slide into the next section—the one I was supposed to be in all along—without anyone really noticing.

—Leigh, Alumna, Bachelor of Arts, Psychology Honours

I arrived at our first set of home games wearing the wrong uniform. I was standing there in a white jersey while everyone else was wearing maroon. My stomach just dropped. How had I not figured out that game number two in a home series was technically an away game? How did no one tell me? Why didn’t any other first-years make the same mistake? I called my parents freaking out and they ran around the house, found my maroon jersey and dropped it off just before the game started.

—Kelly, Alumna, Bachelor of Science and Griffins Women’s Basketball team


Check out this episode of our Clock Radio podcast where students, faculty and staff chime in on their favourite fails and best advice for making the most of first year. 

I took Psychology 104 in the first semester of my first year and did so bad on the midterm that I dropped the course, but I’m really glad I decided to retake it. I just graduated from the Honours program in Psychology. The first year is really hard for almost everybody, and it’s important to know that.

—Ashlynn, Alumna, Bachelor of Arts, Psychology Honours and winner of the President’s Medal for Academic Excellence and Student Leadership

I spent my first day at MacEwan at the wrong campus in the wrong class. Being from Calgary, I was unaware that, at the time, MacEwan had a southside campus. So when I enrolled in an accounting course, I assumed it would be at the main campus. The night before, I was reviewing my schedule and noticed that this course started at 9 a.m.—and that I had a marketing course downtown right after.

When I realized that it would be impossible to make it to my marketing class on time, I went to see an academic advisor who helped steer me in the right direction—which happened to be away from the accounting course that wasn’t actually required in the first place.

—Kyle, Alumnus, Bachelor of Commerce, Management major

I remember thinking my first day of university was going to be just like High School Musical. I was nervous, giddy and so excited I was pretty much skipping down the halls. Ear training at 8 a.m.? YES! I want to do that. A month later, it was somehow a lot harder to get to my early morning class and be enthusiastic about identifying the chords it felt like my prof was slamming down on the piano.

—Tatiana, Alumna, Bachelor of Music

I took five years off between high school and university, and I remember that first day of classes as being very scary. I was sure everybody was going to be so much younger than I was (they weren’t). I didn’t think I had any idea of how to learn or do homework anymore (I did). But my biggest anxiety was about making friends.

I remember seeing groups of people together as I walked down the halls and thinking that I would never have that. But I actually ended up making one of my very good friends on the first day. She sat in front of me during a 9:30 a.m. English class and when I saw her sitting beside me on the couches afterwards, I recognized her and decided to say hi. We’ve been friends ever since.

—Sarah, Alumna, Bachelor of Communication Studies

I was super nervous during my first week. My face turns bright red when I’m embarrassed, so when I went to Club Days I ended up not talking to a single person. Looking back, I wish I got involved earlier. It took me until my third year to step out of my comfort zone, but when you start making friends who are in the same situation as you and who understand what you’re going through, it makes things a lot easier.

—Alexandra, Alumna, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

I started out taking five classes and then dropped one. I wasn’t doing well in my English class where we were learning grammar and writing skills either. On the day we were going to be proofreading our big essay for the term, I was sitting on a couch in the hall trying to decide if I should go to class or just go home. It turns out that day was a fork in the road for me. I feel like if I had gone home that day, everything would have been different. I wouldn’t have gotten the great advice I did that day, and I probably would have failed the essay, dropped the class and screwed up my semester. That one decision to go to class eventually led me to take a literature analysis course that blew my mind. 

—Jay, Alumnus, Bachelor of Science, Mathematics

Going into my first class was the first moment I realized these five courses I was enrolled in that semester all had acronyms for the course name, and I realized I didn’t even know what they stood for, so I didn’t know what course I was walking into. I remember sitting down next to a couple of girls (who I’ve since been friends with throughout the program). It turned out that the people I sat next to were the people that stuck with me for the most part. Everybody was so shy, but we introduced ourselves.

—Janelle, Alumna, Bachelor of Science in Nursing

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