A year ago today I was confident I would be attending university in the city I grew up in. I figured I would live at home, take a generalized program for my first year and still have my mom fold my laundry for me.

Yet here I am, one year later, living seven hours away from home, enrolled in a specialized program and (unfortunately) folding my own laundry. This wasn’t my original plan at all, but I wouldn’t want it to have happened any differently.

I am studying International Development and Globalization at the University of Ottawa and have loved every single second of it, so far. The welcome week, aka Frosh Week, that was run by upper year students, was truly remarkable and allowed me to meet so many like-minded and kind people in my program.

My roommate and I get along great and I already have a tight-knit group of friends who I spend most of my free time hanging out with.

Despite all of the fun I had during Frosh Week, I have been focusing a lot on my school work.

University course loads are so much different from high school, and I’m already learning that it is extremely important to stay on top of your work. I have midterms coming up and I feel as though I’ve barely started classes!

Why is it different from high school?  In university, teachers don’t follow up with you before or after an assignment is due.  It is completely your responsibility to make sure that each assignment is completed and handed in on time. This is why my agenda has become a crucial part of my existence since arriving on campus.  It is so important to stay organized!

As well, the course load is much heavier and since I'm in a social science program I have to do copious amounts of reading and can expect to have about 2 hours of reading plus additional time for assignments for every 1.5 hour lecture. It's exhausting at times, but it's also very exciting to be studying something I'm passionate about!

I’m so excited for what the next four years have in store for me. If you are a grade twelve student right now, trying to decide where to apply or what to do with yourself in the upcoming year, take this advice: go into a program that excites you – not one that you think will pay the bills.  Also, try moving away from home! Stepping outside of my comfort zone was terrifying, but I already know I’ve made the best decision in doing so.