Not surprisingly, I had an amazing English 101 class last semester. Adrienne was one of the first year students who made it such a pleasure. When I thought about interviewing first year students for the blog, she immediately came to mind. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to teach her again! Read on to find out how she balances off campus life, academics, and extra-curricular activities–JLH
JLH: Can you tell us a bit about what factors you considered when deciding on a university and a program? What made UWaterloo stand out in the end?
AB: In high school, my academic performance in math and science was always strong, but nothing ever interested me as much as English. However, it wasn’t an easy choice for me to choose the Honours Arts program. Around the time I had to start thinking of which universities and programs to start applying to, I was worried that if I chose English as my major, I wouldn’t get a well-paying job after university, or have a successful career. After speaking with my English teachers extensively about my academic writing strengths, however, and looking into the programs offered at the University of Waterloo, I knew that this was the school for me.
UWaterloo stands out as a great school, because it teaches practical skills, and has such a great reputation. I know I will be able to use my degree to find successful careers in many different fields in which an English degree is compatible – communication, business, teaching, or even further studies in English. The general first year is so flexible and has allowed me to explore several different fields of study in which to major or minor, thankfully easing the stress of my decision-making. I’ve also been able to meet awesome professors and students from different areas of the school. Attending an amazing school close to home is a bonus – I feel so comfortable here.
JLH: A lot of students find it really difficult to make friends in their first year: how has the transition been in terms of meeting people, classmates, etc.? Did anything in particular help?
AB: As I’m sure most first-year students agree, the transition into university is hard, especially because we separate from a lot of our friends from high school. It is particularly difficult if you aren’t living in residence, because your chances to meet and socialize with other students are limited. I was lucky, because I could rely on my best friend and my brother for support right from the start. Also, being in English classes, where most people share a common interest with you, it is easy to make friends. I also enrolled in Drama, and the nature of theatre courses force you to meet and fully engage with your classmates, even meeting for rehearsal outside of class at night and on weekends. In Drama, we depend on each other and greatly encourage each other’s performances by providing feedback and criticism, making our relationships especially personal. Right from the beginning in first semester, I made great friends, socializing even outside of school. I will be participating in a production of Othello in the near future and it is always fun to get ready for it. If it wasn’t for Drama, I wouldn’t have met nearly as many people. I feel a lot of the school’s efforts in helping new students in socializing with each other is geared for students in residence, and you really have to put an effort in making the time to socialize.
JLH: Have you developed a routine? If so, can you say a bit about it?
AB: I’m still getting used to the university routine, but throughout the year I’ve gotten better at managing and devoting my time, finishing the most pressing assignments as fast as possible, and studying for upcoming tests. To be honest, I find that daily routines take a toll on my physical and mental well-being. If I find myself doing the same mundane and banal things in the morning, at night, and between classes, my work productivity is heavily affected, so I try to take each day at a time, and mix things up. I ride the bus to school every morning and evening to and from Kitchener, and I scatter my work throughout the day whenever I have time, so I don’t have to do as much at night, when I’m the most tired and stressed. Even my sleep schedule is varied – I wake up at different times, usually two hours before my first lecture of the day. A few things I don’t have the power to change, like dedicating a significant amount of time to reading and studying each day, which is key to doing well in university. But I’m lucky that my classes only run Monday-Thursday this semester, which gives me more time to work freely on Fridays. Most of my day is made up of lectures, but I finish around 4 o’clock each day, and get home just after five.
JLH: There’s a lot of variety in English. Have you looked at the specializations or courses, and started thinking of how you might structure your degree?
AB: Of course! I already started looking ahead at required courses for an English major, and I’ve been browsing the course catalogue incessantly. The program is generally four years, so I plan to spread out the English courses I take, probably 2 or 3 classes each semester. If I structure my degree like this then I will definitely finish on time, incorporating the Drama classes I need for my minor and the courses I still need to fulfill my breadth requirements.
I’m so excited to start taking more English courses, particularly British and American classic literature, as well as children’s literature courses and creative writing classes. Since I’m also a theatre and performance student, and because I find him and his plays so fascinating, I’m definitely going to take some more Shakespeare classes.
JLH: What are you most looking forward to overall?
AB: I’m definitely looking forward to meeting more people in the English program. I plan to join more clubs and attend more events that the English department has to offer, so that I can connect with other students, and share my interests with them. I’m also looking forward to auditioning for plays outside of Drama class to perform for audiences in the Theatre of the Arts.