DO get to know everyone on your floor
You might not become best friends with every single person on 5E in Ontario Hall, but you can definitely make the effort to smile and get to know them. You’re going to be living together for the next eight crazy, exciting, overwhelming months of your life. It’s important to have a tribe of people to share the high highs and low lows with.
DON’T feel stuck in one group
For the very first time in your life, you really get to choose your friends. Cliques are a thing of the past, which is something to celebrate! Introduce yourself and chat it up with people from your residence, your classes, your extracurriculars and maybe even the 30-person 12:30 p.m. Starbucks line in UCC.
DO lean on your sophs
These volunteers have been hand-selected to be your ride-or-dies. They are the all-supporting, advice-giving nomads of Western, and they want to make sure that your first-year experience is one you’ll never forget.
DON’T feel like you’re annoying them
Don’t let the highly choreographed faculty dances and face paint fool you: sophs are just like you. Some of them were experiencing their first days at Western just last year. They understand your late-night escapades and midterm breakdowns better than anyone. Don’t believe me? Just ask for the story behind their soph names.
DO introduce yourself to your professors
Getting into this habit will benefit you during your entire university career. Professors love getting to know their students, and most of us don’t go out of our way to establish that relationship. If you’re skeptical, just think of it as networking for your future — you never know what opportunities can arise from having positive relationships with people in high places.
DON’T be afraid to ask them for help
One of the biggest misconceptions about professors at university is that they expect you to figure everything out for yourself. So not the case. If you ask your professor about a concept that you can’t quite fully grasp, they'll relish in being able to help you. Nothing makes a professor happier than a student with passion and curiosity.
DO get involved on campus
Interested in politics but never had the chance to engage in them? Or are you a foodie dying to wine and dine throughout London? Whatever your hobby, newfound interest or secret passion is, you can bet Western’s got a club for you.
DON’T over commit
OK, the options to get involved may seem a little too exhilarating at first. Focus on a couple of groups that really spark something in you and devote your attention to them. Being fully invested in three clubs is going to allow for more growth and opportunity than being half-committed to six.
DO go to class and study hard
This one seems more obvious than it is. It’s really easy to skip a couple of classes in university. And believe it or not, a couple can turn into a lot pretty fast. Make an effort to show up to every class and to take advantage of the education you’re receiving. Pro tip: reward your future self by not scheduling Friday classes.
DON’T stress over a low grade
You’re going to fail a quiz, a midterm, an essay — or maybe even a course. Don’t beat yourself up over it: it happens to nearly everyone. If you’re showing up and putting in the work, then look beyond the number on the paper and think about changing your studying technique. Better yet, join a study group or talk to your TA about getting extra help.
DO check your module
You don’t want to miss graduating on time because you forgot to fulfill that 0.5 credit in art history. Become familiar with your module and the required courses, because no matter how fun Western can be, at some point, you will need to graduate. Period.
DON’T feel restricted by your program
Students at Western are fortunate to have a huge variety of interesting and sometimes obscure electives to choose from. Literature studies in Harry Potter sound appealing? Or maybe you’d just like to see if your interest in Spanish could potentially turn into a minor. We encourage you to check out other faculties and the courses they offer.
DO enjoy the nightlife
It’s no secret that at university, Western in particular, there’s a lot of opportunity to go out to clubs, bars and parties. Even if you don’t consider yourself a party animal, give wild nights on Richmond Row a chance. Discovering what kind of music you like to dance to or people you like to go out with is all part of the fun of the next four years.
DON’T feel pressured
No drinks, no problem. Same goes for any kind of drug or sexual activity. Do what works for you, not what’s encouraged by your peers. Remember, the night is only as long as you want it to be, and Smoke’s Poutinerie is only a quick walk away.
DO stay active
Freshman 15 is a real thing, but you can avoid it by making a habit of walking to class instead of catching a ride on the LTC. Even if you love your greens and quinoa, looking into joining intramural sports or attending group fitness classes at the Rec Centre is a great way to meet new people and take care of your health. Plus, establishing a weekly routine will make for a smoother transition into university.
DON’T be intimidated by gym rats
The weight room is always going to be filled with macho, uber-confident people. Ignore them. As hard as it is to believe, they weren’t born with muscles sticking out of their stomachs. Everyone starts somewhere. Pro tip: go with a gym buddy so you can experience the newness together.
DO find balance
Between school, extracurriculars, family, friends and yourself, it's important to find balance. It’s OK to pull an all nighter for Chemistry 1301 just as long as you’re getting a full night’s sleep the next day. Sometimes, you need a cozy night in with warm tea and good friends. Other times, you need a visit back home filled with your favourite comfort foods and snuggles with your golden retriever.
DON’T neglect your mental health
Make checking in with yourself regularly a priority. It’s easy to feel extremely overwhelmed with this big life change and it’s completely normal, and encouraged, for you to talk to someone about it. Western has amazing resources for all kinds of support. The lovely people at the Wellness Education Centre, Peer Support Centre, Student Health Services and other campus resources want to do what they can to make university a truly happy and fulfilling experience, so let them.
DO go out of your comfort zone
Growth and comfort can’t coexist, so say yes to things that scare you and watch yourself evolve. Take the reigns on every new opportunity that throws itself your way. Western has a funny way of bringing you exactly what you need at exactly the right time, even if you don’t expect it.
DON’T forget to stay true to who you are
At the end of the day, Western is your experience. It’s your time to go on crazy adventures, learn important life lessons, build life-long friendships and do some serious self-exploration. Make this experience one that you wouldn't want to do any other way.