A dose of reality

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The expectation vs. reality of my first year at university

An entire year of university has flown by my eyes in a flash - and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I moved more than half way across the world, alone, fearful but so excited to begin a new era in my life. A year ago, so many thoughts raced through my combusting mind - "is it what it really looks like? Will there be plenty of parties? Will I meet my lifelong friends instantly?" …HAH, I’m laughing at the one-year-ago me. My first year of university meant and means more to me than you could ever imagine. I hope you can and will resonate with my story:

Photo of Qhalisa's dorm room decorated with posters and fairy lightsThe first three months in this new and unfamiliar terrain was tough (I’m not going to sugar-coat it), but this is the time that I found myself more than anything. What do I mean by found myself? I mean that every time I wanted to call home to say ‘mum, I want to come home now’, I would pick myself up and remind myself that I am strong, that I should continue to do me and be optimistic in the face of any challenge.

I won’t forget my first bus ride all alone to run an errand - who likes to do anything alone? Had I gone to university with close friends, we would have probably dragged each other along to run errands. But here I was, so AFRAID to be with myself. I delayed and dreaded that bus ride for weeks. And now I ask, "WHY QHALISA?! Why were you so afraid of giving yourself the pleasure of your own great company?"

That is what all the lonely times taught me - that IT IS OKAY to give yourself company. In fact, it is fulfilling and almost gives you a sense of accomplishment. I got home that day liking myself a little more than I did just the day before because I realized that "I GAT THIS!"

Portrait of QhalisaAbout meeting lifelong friends, I have met them - I just didn’t meet them INSTANTLY like I was hoping; that isn’t how it goes in most cases. It takes time to meet quality friends that are worth all the lonely bus rides that you had before that, because you know you won’t have another one.

And you might wonder, how and when do you meet these friends? – for me, being in a place where I didn’t know anyone is the reason I was able to find these gems. I was more inclined to sit next to someone new on the bus, stir up a conversation and it is in these unexpected times that I crossed paths with some of my best friends.

Of course I had my very best friend/boyfriend just 2 hours away from me - but that was just the right distance to blossom on my own but know that I have a little bit of home close by.

Writing this right now, having just begun my second year, I feel emotional - not the sad kind, but the happy kind- a PROUD emotional.

I am so proud of myself. Proud of picking myself up through every moment I craved the comfort of home, of learning to be independent, of building my home in a whole new world, of being courageous and going to an entirely new place with no familiar soul, of all the carpe diems I had.

I am proud of looking back and thinking of how much more my first year of university meant for me. And I feel so sad for anybody who didn’t get the chance to find parts of themselves they didn’t know existed, for those who aren’t proud of themselves after one year of being thrust in to reality. For those who don’t see it like I do.

In all my adversities, in all my fearful times, I blossomed the most - each obstacle translated in to a lesson. I made the BEST decision to venture out in to unknown waters, to throw myself in to a new mindset, to RE-INVENT myself, and to learn to love myself.

-This is a dose of reality for you. The dose is small but its impact is colossal.

Want to read more about Qhalisa's journey? Check out her blog here: qhalisakhan.wordpress.com

You can also read more from other University of Waterloo students here: uwaterloo.ca/beyond-ideas