Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and point of views of current arts students around campus. Get to know our creative and passionate students through their “voices” and get a snapshot of life as an arts undergrad. The views and opinions expressed within these student voices posts are solely those of the author.
Having had a “First Year” a couple times in my post-secondary adventure, I have come to realize that certain people have had a profound effect on my experience entering a new academic setting. Sometimes these people take a few months to appear, but at some point in those first eight months of study at an institution, you will meet the following five types of people. They will take all shapes and sizes. Some might be in your life for a day, or you might start a relationship with them that will last a lifetime. Who knows? But you should keep on the lookout for the following people:
Yes, I know… this one seems obvious, as we are at an academic institution. However, a mentor does not necessarily mean one of your professors or a private lesson instructor. A mentor could easily be an older student, a younger student, a staff member, an alumnus/alumna… it can be anyone. Personally, the mentor that I attribute much of my success to in the past few years since coming to the U of A is now an alumnus of the philosophy department. The Mentor is the person who helps you make sense of the world; the one you call for advice in any aspect of your life. I have had mentors that I have only ever met once, and will never meet again. Sometimes you won’t even notice them—but they are always there, helping you succeed.
While in the Arts, I have found it particularly useful to have a Rival. It helps keep you motivated to continually better yourself. When you know that someone else is vying for your spot in orchestra, or that gallery time, or that role in the play, you will do better. And this person will be there your first year, and it is up to you to cope with the situation as you see fit. In my case, my Rival made it very clear from the beginning that this was going to be a competition between us; that was fine with me. The Rival may be friendly—good-natured competition just to improve both of you—or they may be more vicious. But you have to remain steadfast and proceed in the direction you wish to go.
The Best Friend
This is a person you will find fairly early on in your postsecondary education. At some point you will find someone whom you are rarely seen without. You might start practicing duets together, rehearsing lines, or critiquing each other’s paintings. They are there for everything, such as a crazy adventure on Whyte or during quiet nights at the push of the “send” button. They may not stay long; but more often than not, they become a significant part of your life. They will share your successes and shed tears on your behalf. They wake you up at ungodly hours (ie: before 10am) after a night out so you don’t miss brunch at the Sugar Bowl. I know that I would never have made it this far without my best friend’s help and support.
The Old Friend
You’ll run into the Old Friend at some point in the first few months. This will be someone from your hometown, your high school, or your neighbourhood—someone from your past that you will randomly encounter on campus or at the bar one night. You’ll each talk about how you have been doing, reminisce about the “good ol’ days” and part ways. Take it from me: try to keep that line open, even if it’s coffee every couple weeks. Keeping that connection with your past can help make your future clearer.
The Life of the Party
This goes without saying: the Life of the Party will turn every night out into a debaucherous, wild and animalistic adventure you will not want to miss. You say their name three times and they will appear beside you. They somehow know everyone at the bar. Someone mentions going out and they will jump at the chance. “One beer!” is their catchphrase. And no matter what events might transpire that night, they walk away as if nothing happened and have a number of stories to tell. It’s good to keep this person around just to balance the workload. Remember: you have to have fun while also working hard. A break every now and then is not going to hurt. The Life of the Party reminds us of this.