Dear First-Year Athena


Written by: Athena Zhong, Year 3 BMSc HSP Physiology and Pharmacology

Dear First-Year Athena,

You have changed immensely over the past few years and it feels amazing to be able to write to you today. At this moment, you are probably excited about all the possibilities there are and nervous about what the future may hold. These feelings are completely normal, and I can promise you that the next few years will be full of incredible surprises and memories that you would have never expected to make.

My first word of advice is to engage in campus activities. You may feel overwhelmed and with the upcoming deadlines, it is easy to head back to your room directly from classes and to spend the rest of the day studying. Absolutely, your grades should be a priority. At the same time, the university experience is invaluable. Make the time whenever possible to take a break and engage in campus activities. Whether it is swimming with a friend at the Rec Centre, grabbing lunch at the UCC, or taking photos in front of UC college illuminated in purple at night, these are the lasting memories you will want to make more of since these are the memories that will stay with you beyond graduation.

Be sure to make use of the resources around you. The professors, TAs, Sophs, RAs, ALPs, mentors, and many more people are here to support you. Another helpful tip is to make a weekly schedule and follow it as best as you can. There is no need to worry if things do not go exactly as planned. Life is about being flexible, and change is inevitable. Although it may not seem like it when you are studying late for an exam in Taylor Library, everything will be okay.

Be your own best friend. Practicing self-care is essential. No one else will be there to remind you that it is time to be active, eat healthily, or take time for yourself. Although maintaining strong academics matters, maintaining your mental and physical health is crucial. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever gotten is that if something will not matter in five years, then do not stress over it for more than five minutes. Life can get tough, but you are your greatest supporter. You are strong, and you are more than enough.

The upcoming years will consist of immeasurable personal and professional growth. I cannot wait for you to experience it all. For now, please take a moment to enjoy the beautiful campus you will soon call home. You will make it through these next few years and thrive—trust me.

Yours truly,

Your Future Self


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