The end has come. This year has passed by so quickly. Writing for The New has been an incredibly rewarding and amazing experience. I learned so much and got to work with such amazing people every week; I really can’t imagine a better job.

I’ve accomplished way more over the past year than I thought I was capable of. I finished my second year with mostly Bs/C+s. It was extremely discouraging to try my hardest and still receive mediocre grades. I felt as though I didn’t fit into U of T, that clearly I wasn’t as smart or capable as my classmates.

This year, I set out with the goal that I was going to commit fully to everything I did. I applied myself 10 times more in all my classes, and managed to bring my grades to a A-/B+. I may or may not have teared up when I got my first A on a paper. I got back on stage for the first time in three years with the Only Human Dance Collective. I applied and got accepted for a semester abroad in Granada. I am finally in the process of writing a novel whose plot I’d been bouncing around for three years. I got to write for The New every week, participate in a school-wide snowball fight and run around the city going to every concert I could get into.

Mina at a snowball fight; Mina dancing; Mina wearing a costume

This time last year, I felt as though I had let half my university career slip away, and that it was too late to try to change anything. If your year didn’t go as planned, don’t be discouraged. There’s so much time to change, grow and get involved. Commitment and effort will get you everywhere.

A 'smiling' dog

Congratulations on finishing the semester! You made this puppy very happy! (photo by きうこ)

In lieu of more sappiness, I present you with life advice based on things I’ve learned over the past year:

  • Invest in one really soft blanket and wrap yourself in it whenever you’re feeling stressed, nostalgic or homesick.
  • Don’t try bleaching your hair yourself. You will end up crying on the floor of your kitchen because somehow your hair looks kind of like a molting bird.
  • Go after what you want. Be passionate and be aggressive.
  • Don’t be scared to go to places alone. Talk to strangers. People are kind, and everyone is just as nervous and uncomfortable in new situations as you are.
  • When you say hi to the dog you pass in the street, you should probably also acknowledge its owner.
  • Go camping with your best friends. There’s a quasi-religious experience in finding out who people are when there are no distractions.
  • If you’re constantly amassing library late fees, save yourself the stress and heartache and go binge on used novels at BMV.
  • Find one funny show and save up the episodes like a chipmunk preparing for hibernation; it’s always nice to you know you have a back-up arsenal of things that can make you happy.

I hope you enjoyed reading The New at least a tenth of how much I enjoyed writing it.

All the best,

Mina