Dear University of Alberta,
As I get ready to graduate, I can’t help but feel pangs of nostalgia. It has come to the point where my friends have begun to point out that I’ve still got a month-and-a-bit left of school whenever they see me, so they can be spared from my wistful recanting of what is still a present-day phenomenon.
Nevertheless, I would like to share with you some of the (many) departments, courses, people and quirks at the U of A that I will miss as I venture into a new beginning.
The morning transit rides to the U. I’m the kind of person that goes through great lengths to avoid paying for parking, so naturally, I’m a park-and-rider. Since getting my own car, my transit use is limited to commuting to and from the university, and while I’m not particularly a huge fan of riding public transit, my morning bus rides have become almost ritualistic. In the past five years, my route has remained constant and predictable—and being neck-deep in my tumultuous twenties, constant and predictable is a rare thing to have. (Also, when the train or bus crosses the river—This. Is. The. Best. View. Ever.)
The people-who-hand-out-The-Metro-Newspaper. Be it rain or shine, I can always count on collecting the Metro from the amazing staff. The first thing I always do is skip the back of the paper to where the horoscopes are, take a picture, and mass text it to my girlfriends so they can read theirs. This has also become a ritual of sorts, and it gave me a chance to keep in contact with friends I don’t often get to see.
Quad in the summertime.
BEER GARDENS. The only time of year when lying in Quad and day drinking is encouraged.
Beating the lineup at CAB Tim Horton’s. This is a rare occurrence, but boy does it feel good to grab your coffee and victory walk away from the massive line behind you.
When Tory has left-handed seats. As a leftie, this is almost as rare of an occurrence as Tim Horton’s in CAB not being busy).
Not getting lost in Biological Sciences. It only took me five years, but I can finally navigate my way through Bio Sci without asking for directions or walking into dead ends. I’d like to think this is among the biggest accomplishments of my time here at the U.
The Drama 383 student-directed scenes and the BFA productions. If you haven’t already gotten yourself a punch card to watch BFA plays at a discounted price, then you are missing out. Every time I have needed a fancy date night or friend’s night, this has always been the perfect go-to event. Dress up, show up, and be prepared to watch some good old theatre.
Karaoke nights at RATT. Some will tell you that partying it up on a Wednesday night isn’t a smart idea, and I can guarantee that it isn’t; however, I have made some of my best friends through these Wednesday night singalongs, and I don’t regret it for a second.
Pulling all-nighters in SUB during finals season. It’s not like I actually get a lot of studying done, but there’s something about drinking too much coffee and ordering Domino’s at 12 a.m. to campus that feels like a rite of passage for any university student.
Talking to the people sitting next to me. The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my undergrad is that everyone wants to make friends, and an overwhelming majority of people are open to talking to you if you talk to them. Establishing rapport with the people sitting next to me has been the catalyst of many university friendships.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my undergrad is that everyone wants to make friends.”
Enrolling in courses that I have zero knowledge about. I know this is a little risky, especially if you’re the kind of person who isn’t interesting in dropping $600 on a course you may not even like—but to that, I say: what if you do like it? What if it ends up changing your life? I have had two particular classes that have shaken up the way I interpret my world and myself, and without them, I’m not sure who I would be today. Registering for Community Service-Learning (CSL) and Intro to Creative Non-fiction (WRITE298) was an impulsive decision, but the best decision I ever made. You can read about these in my previous blog posts.
Getting involved with my faculty or favourite department. When I started taking more CSL classes, I actively became more involved with the initiatives undertaken by the department. It was through this that I learned about, applied for and became their 2017 winter student intern. This was the first time in my life when I realized what it felt like to be paid for something you love to do, and this opportunity made me realize that my passions stem from working in the community, particularly within the non-profit sector.
Thanking my professors and TAs. There have been several times throughout my degree where my professors and TAs have literally gone out of their way to enrich my learning experience. Dr. Alison Dunwoody and Dr. Jeffrey Brassard both hunted down and carried a left-handed desk for me into a lecture hall so that I wouldn’t have to uncomfortably squirm in my seat during class. Dr. Zane Hamm would always forward job openings or organizations she felt would interest me. Dr. Lahoucine Ouzgane spent an entire year helping me revise and rewrite an essay that went on to be published in a national magazine for emerging writers, and was also nominated for the Alberta Magazine Publisher Association’s Awards [“For Men Only”, Glass Buffalo, Fall 2017].
It is these gestures that made me feel like an important student with potential to do better. I never felt like a 7-digit student number through University because of these professors and TAs.
“I never felt like a 7-digit student number through University because of these professors and TAs.”
Joining and attending student group events. When you really care about an issue or a subject, join a student group that aligns with your values. Run for executive or leadership positions. Talk to everyone in your group, attend events together and plan events together. Some of the skills I have learned (like grant writing, budgeting, marketing) directly translate into my work experiences, and student groups foster community and friendships with like-minded people.
My list could probably be stretched out to a few hundred points, but I really just wanted to take this platform to reminisce about what feels like an end of an era. My heart is full of gratitude for all the friends I’ve had the privilege of making, CSL and the many community partners I worked with, and lastly, thank you to the Faculty of Arts for cultivating courses that encourage me to think about the world beyond myself. It’s been an incredibly unique journey, one which I will remember for the rest of my life.
Editor’s Note: As part of Mishma’s student-led project “Converse and Cook“, on Saturday March 24 there will be a Grocery Express Bus that will take students to and from Superstore, absolutely free of charge. If you are interested, click on the google sign-up form here!
Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and viewpoints of current Arts students. Through their posts, you’ll experience the creativity and passion of our students as they present glimpses into student life. The views and opinions expressed within these posts are solely those of the authors.