Dear First-Year…

Seek out meaningful experiences.
As much as our educational system emphasizes the importance of academics, we can get so focused on our textbooks and syllabi requirements that we forget to take the time to delve into the extracurricular activities that UTM offers.

As a first-year student in 2011, I chatted with other students who occupied the nearby seats in my classes. I didn’t go to Frosh, so how else was I going to make friends? But in classes of 500 students, we lost track of one another during the semester. And no conversations lasted beyond, “What program are you in?” or “What other classes are you taking?”

Thanks to orientation week, I now not only have friends, but a family at UTM. As a Lebanese-Syrian student, the Middle Eastern Student Association stood out in the crowd of clubs.

“I’ll give it a shot,” I thought as I wrote my name on the sign-up sheet.

Two months later, I decided to go to one of their events. I walked in with my high school best friend, unsure of what to expect. Ten minutes later, I spotted a familiar face and quickly approached her. That girl remains one of my best friends today.

I began to volunteer for MESA and I met a lot more people. I joined discussions. I pitched ideas for events. I grew confident in myself. I developed my skills. I enjoyed every event and I wanted to spread that joy to every newcomer in the club. I became passionate about helping others and enhancing the student experience.

In 2012, I became an executive on the team.

University is a unique ground for pushing yourself to experiment with ideas and actions that you’ve never comprehended before. Get involved. Take your interests and develop them into something more meaningful for yourself. Academics are vital, but so is your well-being. Practice balancing your schedule with other activities that interest you. Try out for a sports team, volunteer, or perhaps find a club to participate in. Don’t be shy to meet new people. You never know where these connections could lead you. Challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone, because that’s when true change occurs. It’s never too late to discover what you’re passionate about. After all, isn’t university a time for us to further discover ourselves?

How I Got Over my Fears in the Gym

As a workout junkie, the gym facility was the first spot I explored at UTM.tumblr_mcqrcrpalv1r7rk26

The RAWC gym has housed my adrenaline-deprived body for the last five years. I swim, run, and cycle there. I practice Yogilates and Pilates. If fact, in my opinion, nothing beats a good ol’ boot camp class—an intense cardio session that challenges every physical limit you have.

But I used to stay away from two spots—the inside part of the gym near the weights section, where the men mostly are, and the high performance centre, a strength training facility.

Read more