Undergrad Paulina Pietrzyk shares her strategies for success


It’s been a while since Words in Place profiled undergraduates. Recently, I decided to reach out to some of our first year students. Paulina Pietrzyk is a logical choice: she was a fantastic student in my 101 class last semester. Read on to find out what brought her to UWaterloo, what was the biggest adjustment from high school, and what she’s planning on doing next. Given her interests, I may be lucky enough to have her as a student again!–JLH

JLH: Can you tell us what made you chose UWaterloo?
PP: As soon as I received my letter of admission to UWaterloo, I knew that it was the school I would be attending; it was the obvious choice for me. I live within the KW area, so why would I pay loads of money to attend a school out of town, when I am lucky enough to have a school that meets all of my needs close to home? UWaterloo truly did seem to offer everything I was looking for. The thing that appealed to me most was the general first-year program. Because I went into University unsure of whether I wanted to major in English or history, I was excited to hear that UWaterloo offered a first-year program that allowed me to explore different options and declare my major later. Having now completed my first term at UWaterloo, I have decided that I definitely want to major in English (though I am still considering a double-major), and I can honestly say that the structure of the Honours Arts program has eased stress for me in making this decision.

JLH: What has been the biggest adjustment so far?
PP: I must admit, one of the biggest adjustments for me so far has been the size of the campus. I wish that I could say that I only got lost searching for classes on the first week, but having now completed a term, I still haven’t completely adapted to how large the campus is. In fact, I am wondering whether I ever will. I suppose it is a good thing I didn’t choose UToronto, right?

On a more serious note, learning to manage my time more efficiently has also been a big adjustment. Having evening classes sometimes results in me having to stay at school for most of the day, since I don’t live in residence. This takes away from time I could be spending on homework and studying, and I am also juggling a part-time job on top of that. It has certainly been an adjustment from high school, but it has definitely forced me to develop better time-management skills, which I am sure will benefit me in the future.

JLH: Are you looking ahead in the course catalogue? Do you see courses you are excited about taking in the future?
PP: I certainly have been looking ahead in the course catalogue, and have already found several courses that I hope to take in the future. In terms of English, there are a couple of 200-level children’s literature courses that sound interesting. I can also see myself taking some more Shakespeare courses (I am already taking one this term), as well as courses in American literature, especially those focusing on the early twentieth century.

There are also a few history courses that I hope to fit into my schedule in the future. These include ones focusing on the Holocaust, colonial America, American slavery, and the Cold War, just to list a few.

JLH: What’s your best strategy for keeping on top of everything?
PP: Lately, I have been trying to start everything as soon as it is assigned and avoid procrastinating, and so far, this has helped me keep on top of everything. Obviously, it is not always possible to start all of your assignments as soon as they are assigned, but it is quite remarkable how much stress you can avoid for yourself by simply not leaving things to the last minute. I don’t know why I didn’t try this strategy sooner.

JLH: Finally, did you read anything for fun over the December break?
PP: Over the Christmas break I finally got around to reading Go Set a Watchman, the sequel to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I really enjoyed the first book, and I also wanted to see what all of the controversy surrounding the sequel was about. I find that sequels are rarely as good as the original book, but this one definitely didn’t disappoint.

Thank you to Paulina for participating. If you want to learn more about other undergraduate English students or related undergraduate matters, click here.

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One response to “Undergrad Paulina Pietrzyk shares her strategies for success

  1. Paulina, I recommend Lawrence Hill’s ” Book of Negroes”, if American and Canadian slavery is of interest to you.

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