Written by QCMHA First Year Representative Nicole Frank
Growing up with parents who went to Queens, my childhood was full of amusing dinner table stories about their time at university. Their closest friends and favourite memories all seemed to have one thing in common, Queens. Throughout my life, I idolized university and used it as a motivator to make it through challenging times, knowing I could have these same experiences one day. This past summer, I was as excited as possible to start this new chapter of my life.
What I didn't realize at the time was that although going to university is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, change is also hard. Really hard. My first few months at university were a lot tougher than I expected. Starting a different school, being away from my parents, making new friends, navigating club hiring, and a new workload all at once was challenging. My idolized idea of being at university was depleted and quickly replaced with negative feelings. I found myself wanting to be alone more than anything else and increasingly doubted my self-confidence. I couldn't understand why I was struggling and developed resentment toward what I was feeling.
One day during my first semester, I had a conversation with a friend from the overnight camp I have worked at the past few summers. While talking to her about what I was experiencing, she mentioned a word we used during staff training to describe the off-putting feelings a camper gets when they first arrive at camp. This word was dysregulation. The first few days were always the roughest, with kids crying from homesickness and struggling to adapt to a new environment. But by the end of the summer, these same campers were so sad to leave a place they grew to love. I knew at that moment this was precisely what I was feeling. Although I was struggling to deal with a new environment at the moment, I had comfort in knowing this could eventually change. I wasn’t having a bad experience at university, just a new one.
As my first semester at Queens progressed, I slowly adjusted to the change. I found people I connected with, got into a good working schedule with school, and joined QCMHA. I found a new appreciation for university, realizing that my experience won’t be the same as my parents but can be equally as positive. Being grateful for the opportunity to get an education and staying connected to those I love have both helped me reframe my thoughts around change. I am still adjusting every day, slowly finding a routine that works for me and embracing the ups and downs of being at university.