In my mind, university is one big IKEA showroom. When you walk in, you’re nervous you won’t be able to find a parking spot or that if you do, it will be a ten minute walk away. When you finally enter, you choose a bare cart that you will fill with meaningful objects. At the first glance, you feel like you’re steeping into someone else’s living room – should I be taking off my shoes? Can I sit on that couch? But if you walk around again, you realize you can use these objects to make yourself a home, a new home.
When I first walked onto my university campus, I was filled with nerves. I’m not really great at changes – I lasted three days at sleepover camp before I called my mom crying to pick me up and before you picture a little girl with pigtails, let me tell you that I was fourteen.
When I graduated high school two years ago, taking a year “on” was very much in. We were encouraging to take a year abroad before we embark on our next school experience. I got swept up in this phase and started yelling at my parents to let me “experience new things” and “become more independent” which no doubt my year abroad would provide me with. Wasn’t the price of knowledge worth the $20,000 tuition program?
Thankfully, I realized I could probably live without this year “on” and still survive (and this realization obviously had nothing to do with my summer love interest, of course). The only problem was that university was starting in just four weeks and I did not have a place at school. The teeny tiny problem was that although McGill had accepted me in April, it was now August and they didn’t really care about some 18 year old girl hysterically complaining she “had to get into McGill because she couldn’t leave her boyfriend.” After five emails to the McGill admissions department to which I was told “it was impossible to reinstate my offer,” and a few frantic phone calls, I got the email that I would always remember – “Should you be interested in the Faculty of Management for September 2007 you must e-mail Admissions within the next two days…” I promise this is a true story – I have copies of these emails!
When I entered my first year at McGill, I had no idea what I wanted to study. I took anything and everything that interested me. The anonymity here intrigued me – I could trip down the stairs and no one would even notice (probably – I haven’t yet tested this theory).
The thing is, professors do care (if you visit them during office hours). And those friends you meet? They’ll stay with you forever, no matter which end of the earth they’re from. It took awhile to get adjusted to the different schedules and intensive courses but now I look forward to every class I have (even Canadian Politics). I love learning from professors who have years of research in their fields.
McGill is a school with over 30,000 students and that can be pretty intimidating. But I’ve already made that first walk around the showroom and I like what I see. And with every step, it feels more and more like home (decorated with IKEA furniture of course).