04 Dec An Open Letter to Undergraduate Students
In September of 2012, I left behind the familiarity of my quaint hometown and embarked on a 228 km journey to Kingston. I knew it then, and I definitely know it now, that my time at Queen’s would be forever engrained in my heart.
That was over three years ago. I have now spent 26 defining months at Queen’s. Approaching the end of it all, everything I do is considered from the perspective that it is, or could be, the last time I do it. The last jump at the pier, a fourth and final homecoming, the closing Halloween. Wait, will this be the last Top Secret bagel I ever order?
So, what have I learned?
I can tell you about the sociological imagination, Michel Foucault, and the complexity of social forces that affect our lives. But what I really want to tell you is that there is value in having a curious mind and that this is certainly the place to have one. Take advantage of the brilliance around you.
I’ve met the best people I know because I took the time to talk to strangers. These friendships are vital. Your friends also act as temporary moms and dads. They turn bad times into good times, stay up until 3 AM editing your essay, and occasionally surprise you with a coffee at the library. Make sure you return the favour.
University can definitely be about the party, and I’m happy to see you crushing one too many drinks at Stages and getting kicked off that Ale House pool table. But, I also hope to see you opt out sometimes — choosing a good book or pizza and pajamas with housemates instead. Don’t miss out on sunsets at the pier or poetry slams. Be adventurous. Get to know Kingston; after all, it’s your new home.
This place is intense. In fact, from personal experience, it’s a place you can lose yourself in. But you can find yourself too. I hope you take time for you. Consider what makes you tick. Who do you want to be? Figuring it out is a worthy goal, and just because you don’t have everything figured out yet doesn’t make you mediocre or insignificant.
I’m lucky enough to have met some pretty extraordinary people over the years, and decided to ask them for some of their best advice for you:
“When you feel like you have lost control of everything in your life, remember that you always have control of your attitude. Embrace not knowing the answers and see everything as a learning experience. You have been given one hell of an opportunity to take advantage of — be present for it and always be thankful.” – Erica Altomare
“Be aware of your vices. Beware of what they sedate you from.” – Shakeeb Ahmed
“Queen’s University is a learning institution. The most important learning I’ve done in my time here is establishing these unwritten rules:
1. Never miss a wing night.
2. There are 2 planes on the ceiling of Ale. Try to notice them before the end of undergrad.
3. Due tomorrow = do tomorrow.
4. A round of rosés are cheaper than a round of shots at QP. Try something different.
5. Stauffer is a warm place to crush Netflix seasons in the winter.
6. The ARC is for people watching.
7. 70 nugget minimum at BK Lounge.
8. Broken glass makes Aberdeen sparkle.
10. Homecoming is the best day of the year.
11. The best advice you can give: ‘Go to Queen’s’ ” – Casey Crawford
“Coffee.” – Scott Surphlis
“I learned to be a yes man. The only things I regret are the things I didn’t do. Four years goes by way too fast to not do all the shit you want to do, so whether it’s hitting up QP for a date or going to the spot on a Wednesday, just do it. Also, wash your sheets, you sloppy fuck.” – Steve Nishida
“Be mindful of those who are there for you through the bad grades, heart breaks, and tough situations. Through thick and thin, these are your friends forever.” – Kenny Fuentes
“I’ve always found it hard to bask in the unknown, especially approaching the end of my undergrad. One of my favourite professors called these unpredictable times ‘the wilderness years.’ She told me, ‘When you have no idea where you’re going, be mindful of the things that matter to you and shape your life around those things.’ This isn’t easy to master, but making decisions for myself has helped me through my wilderness years at Queen’s.” – Lauren Luchenski
So, your undergrad – that’s eight semesters, thirty-two months and roughly nine hundred and sixty days. Time is fleeting; look around and take it in. Pave your own way and let yourself blossom. I hope you let these moments be as bright as they can be.
Isabella Kresin, a nostalgic fourth year student
Images: Irvin Mai, Polaroids by Jaclyn Marcus, Riley Zuckerman, Hannah Davis, Rachel Wong, and Tiffany Tang