Recap: First Semester

Now that my first semester at the U of L is done I just want to take a look back at what I originally expected of university and how it actually turned out to be.

Back when I had registered for my classes I had a few doubts about some and if I would be interested in them. I had left my classes how they were and waited until the first week of classes to dip in and see what they were going to be like. Glad I did! In my first week I dropped and added a bunch of classes until finally I had got into classes I wanted. Even this semester I gave myself the first week to settle in and see if they really work for me.

I don’t know when exactly it was that the university layout finally clicked in my head but it did thankfully! I was so lost and if someone told be to go to UHall A,B or E, I would probably walk towards Anderson Hall. I now walk around and can find my classes no problem, there are some areas I still have yet to explore but the majority of the university is a piece of cake. Yay for me!

I also figured out the tips and tricks for getting textbooks. I now know to go ASAP to get the cheap used ones and if you want you can reserve them if your really stuck or fearful of the bookstore and university. But the bookstore really isn’t as intimidating as it looked, the nicely labelled shelves and books are awesome (the staff too!). When it comes to the back to school line up . . . well you just have to deal with it!

I had assumed that by how early my classes were done and because of all the blank spaces on my schedule I would have lots of free time. Not quite. Working 20+ hrs a week, school and studying does not allow one to keep sane and social. But it had to be learned the hard way, but this semester I’m working less, have only four classes and am happy as can be!

As for the classes themselves, I love them! My teachers always encouraged students to come ask for help and want to you to do your best. Yes, you CAN just get up and leave the class if you have to but keep it quiet so you don’t disturb anyone. For note taking, it’s personal preference, only one class I had laptops were not allowed but it worked out anyways. I have to admit that during the semester I hated and cursed my classes like crazy but that was just the midterm/final-ready-to-bang-head-against-desk stress talking. When I look back now I really did enjoy my classes, they were interesting! I would honestly take all of them again.

As for this semester I expect to enjoy my classes and the U of L experience even more as I know how everything works now. University, bring it on!

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Holidays at home!

I would just like to say that I looove the Christmas season! All the decorations and extra time for family and friends is just the perfect way to end off a semester of school and the year 2011 in general. It’s a much needed way to catch your breath from the craziness of school.

I stayed in Lethbridge for my holidays because it’s my home town and I was scheduled to work a bit during the holidays also. I had to pay off all my Christmas shopping somehow! The first couple days of holidays I went out with my friends to the usual clubs and pubs in Lethbridge and Coaldale, as some friends were heading back home soon and others were just getting back from various places across Alberta and BC. It was strange not seeing some people for so long and all of a sudden they’re back but it is like nothing had changed while they were gone.

By the last week before Christmas there isn’t too many events going on in Lethbridge but you can always stop by the mall or Galt Gardens to see the pretty decorations and lights put up. I personally love driving around town to all the houses that go all out in Christmas lights, music and sometimes even a petting zoo for the kiddies and those young at heart.

My brother and his family also came down from Calgary to spend a couple days with my parents and me as well which was awesome. We did the usual Christmas traditions of building, decorating, but mostly eating, a gingerbread house and having a delicious no-meat Christmas eve dinner. I introduced my very old school parents to the wonders of Skype and let’s just say many tears were shed when they saw our relatives who we haven’t seen in years.

I worked a couple more days and am now VERY slowly getting myself prepared for my next semester of school. Gosh I can’t even imagine how this one will be. I feel confident as I actually know what to expect and what to do differently but who knows!

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Need to take a breather | Basia

Wow what a crazy semester this had turned out to be! It started out alright and I managed my time well enough, got my work done, was really enjoying the university life. However somewhere along the line things began to pile up and a literal snow ball effect is taking place.

I think it might have been when ALL of my midterms, yes all five of my classes, had midterms planned in the same week. I was worried enough for my first official university midterm, let alone having to study and cram for all five of them. I have to look on the bright side that now I know what to expect for finals which are all in the same week and be able to prepare and handle them better than I did the midterms.

To add on top of that I got the stomach flu which lasted ALL through midterm week as well. So much fun! I think not.

Then the assignments began to pile up and the readings, the essays and the studying. . . A family crisis had come up, registration for spring classes is about to start and just got over yet ANOTHER flu.  Is Christmas here yet?!?

So let’s just say I’m stressed, but counselling and academic services to the rescue! I made an appointment at the counselling office and set a time for next week to pop by the academic advising office as well. The writing centre will be my last stop to prepare for all the final papers, one due every week until the end of semester, woo!

My hope as this semester quickly wraps up is that I will finally get caught up and with some miracle pull my grades up a bit. I think that I, like most other first year students, NOW know what to do different for the spring semester.

Wish me luck!

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Beware of snacks in class | Basia

In most of my classes I have come to learn that teachers are pretty open to bringing food or beverages. Snacks are a good way to keep from getting hungry and bored in those long, difficult-to-stay-awake lectures.

One class I decided to bring a pizza bread pretzel to munch on, but I kept it in my backpack beside me to avoid the loud noise of a plastic bag. Every few minutes I would rip off a piece and chow down when I wasn’t busy writing notes. Eventually I must have hit an extra crumbly part because when I ripped off the piece of pizza bread and whipped it out of my backpack I sent bits of it flying all over the place. Not just my own desk, but the person who sat next to me and all over her binder and notes.

I quietly apologized and tried to dust off the remains of the pizza bread from her and her desk. After turning bright red and apologizing a million times I didn’t try to eat any more pizza bread for the rest of class. That girl has not sat next to me in class ever since.

I think it’s also good to be allergy conscious as a lot of people may have mild to serious allergic reactions if any left over snacks are left behind on the desks from a previous class. Now I try to stick to safer snacks like fruits and granola bars for in class and save the pizza bread for outside of class.

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Discovered: Galileo’s | Basia

Being a first year at the university the first task was to master the layout of the school. Getting to know the basics of how to get to classes and where to find the basic necessities like food and water. Now that it has been over a month into the semester I find myself exploring more areas of the university and discovering the “hidden gems”.

This week I discovered Galileo’s Lounge when meeting some friends for light studying and coffee!

Galileo’s can be found tucked away in a corner of the food court beside Icy’s and the convenience store in the Students’ Union building (SU234). Most times it’s a pretty nice place to just hang with friends, study or even take a nap as it’s quiet with comfy couches. The view of the bridge, campus and greenery just adds to the chill atmosphere and did I mention there’s a telescope?!? Other times, Galileo’s is also used for club meetings, movie showings or other U of L services.

Coming up on the 26th of this month from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. will be a Peer Referral Open House from the faculty of Arts & Science. You can stop in to get to know the Peer Referral Officers as well as enjoy some prizes and food. Who doesn’t love that?!?

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Never forget your keys, Ever!

Lately I’ve been having some trouble with one of the tires on my car. About once a month the air would get low almost to the point of a flat tire. I don’t know anything when it comes to vehicles so I just got my dad to fix it up by putting some more air into and it would be fine like that for about another month. Well, a couple days ago I was supposed to go to my boyfriend’s house for a study date and of course it was my car’s time of the month and had a low tire.

I figured I would stop by a gas station on my way out of town and fill up the tire myself and continue on my journey. It took me about ten minutes to finally get the tire filled properly and was finally ready to go. I attempt to get into my car and surprise the automatic lock has kicked in, FOR ONCE. It never usually works, even when I press the lock button. I sometimes get to my car and the door is unlocked but when you open the door the alarm still goes off. This one time it actually fully locks my car and as I look in I can see EVERYTHING is inside, keys, wallet and even my phone. Just Perfect.

After a little while of pacing and having a mild freakout I go inside the gas station once more and ask to use the phone. Then I realize that due to having a cell phone, I no longer have to memorize numbers so I have no one to call. I could have used a phone book to call AMA but my mom would get off work in about half an hour so waiting just seemed like the logical thing to do.

As I’m waiting and frantically pacing around my car three people, who you could call a little sketchy looking, walk up and ask why I’m standing outside my car in the rain. I start to worry thinking of the worst possible thing that could happen to a young girl, alone in an alley. Instead they begin to inspect my car and think of ways to get my keys. One guy says to go inside the gas station and call AMA, the woman gives me a hug and reassures me it will be okay and the third guy says he can’t break into my car because of the automatic lock system and it would only set off the alarm. After a while they leave and wish me the best of luck.

About fifteen minutes later the woman and one of the men come back but with a different man as well. They see that I’m still stuck at the gas station and decide to try and help again. The third new gentlemen inspects my window and says he can only break into the older style of Jettas. However, he said that he would gladly break my window if I really want to get into my car. I kindly tell them that I would prefer my car to be undamaged and my mom will be there shortly. Just in the nick of time my mom pulls up and I jump into her car before the gentleman can suggest any other ways he knows how to break into vehicle.

Afterwards I finally just go and get my tire fixed so I won’t have to deal with it anymore, arriving at my boyfriend’s house two hours late. I will seriously keep my keys at my side at all times no matter what I’m doing. I also now have a new appreciation for the people you can meet downtown, and for the older non-automatic locking Jettas.

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First Month of University: Done. | Basia

September has gone by in a flash and what a month it has been!

A big difference I have noticed comparing high school with university is the freedom. You can take the classes you want, when you want. My first week I added and dropped a bunch of my classes. Now I’m in the classes I actually find interesting and care about and boy does that make a difference. I really enjoy my classes and am excited to attend each one. Except for the fact they are early morning classes and when weather is cold I don’t want to leave the comforts of my home. That is another part of the freedom, if I miss a day due to sickness or something else I get the lecture and power points online so I won’t fall behind.

Another difference is the atmosphere in the classroom. They may seem scary with all the students but you get so pulled into the lectures you forget all about that. The students themselves are different because they actually WANT to be there. They are at university for a reason and not just because they have to. There is no more silliness disrupting the whole class or teachers picking on students to hand in their work on time.

I have experienced a lot of firsts this month: First academic essay, which I am still waiting on for the grade so fingers crossed! First club meeting which I had joined during Rush Week. First Fresh Fest! First and hopefully only cold of the semester. And next week I’ll be writing my first midterm.

I have to admit things may have not been as cheery as they sound. All the readings and assignments have been stressful especially with a part-time job. The workload is a lot and now I understand why I had so much free time in my schedule, studying! With the help of an awesome agenda thanks to ULSU and the peace and quiet of the library I have figured out how to manage my time better.

Overall I am loving my time at the university already, I wonder what October will bring . . .

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Fresh Fest: Too Fresh

I could not have been happier that I got to attend this year’s Fresh Fest! The whole weekend was fun packed and a really awesome start for this school year.

Fresh Fest started off with a bang at the luau with the giant slip n’ slide. It was a great time to make some new friends, enjoy the beautiful weather and awesome food. The inflatable obstacle course was far too much fun especially after going on the slip n’ slide first and attempting it while being slippery from all the soap. Following was the fresh flix where people got all cozy outside to watch Bridesmaids. Friday night was pretty mellow yellow with The Zoo being packed for the Lemon Party. The line up to get in may have seemed long but people got to get in and join the fun quickly. The music and atmosphere was electric and I’m sure we were all thinking TGIF.

On Saturday was the big outdoor concert where people got to watch IllScarlett, The Necessities and the other great bands the U of L got to play at this year’s Fresh Fest. I really enjoyed Jesse and the Dandelions as they did a great job preforming their songs and “entertaining us poor students”. They had so much energy in between songs especially with the use of candy, confetti guns and their personalities. I got the chance to meet Jesse and the Dandelions themselves afterwards and thank them for their awesome performance. Jesse allowed me to snag a CD for myself but they sold out so quickly that I never got a chance to pick one up. So for now I’ll be carrying around Jesse’s library card as proof of that.

I think this kind of weekend is needed for students to wind down the summer and start the year off right. I’m for sure going to try and get involved in Fresh Fest next year some how whether it be a volunteer or just attending it again. What a great way to end the summer!

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First University class . . . EVER!

First day of class is now over, the hardest part is done and over with, thank goodness!

I was walking to school and I figured it would take me about fifteen minutes to get there so I planned to have enough time to get a good spot. Well I didn’t account for how large the university is and that it takes another 5+ min to get from the actual parking lot down to the very end of U Hall. Lesson learned.

First class with absolutely no one I knew, but the prof made things nice and interesting so the 50 min flew by. Especially when coming from a school with 3 hour classes, a 50 minute class made paying attention a breeze. Familiar faces in the hallways make all the difference too! I couldn’t stop smiling as it began to sink in that I was actually in university! I feel a lot older all of a sudden. Second class: already know I won’t enjoy it. It’s the return of my most loathed topic I dealt with in high school. Not quite sure how I didn’t figure out that topic would be included. SO I plan to check the other classes available and see if ANYTHING will work with my schedule. I am still worried though as it seems like almost all the classes I’m somewhat interested in are full. Thankfully I can return the textbook and free up that seat for another lost soul.

Three textbooks, a laptop, notepad and food do not fit into a little bag and purse. They only make life more challenging when lugging them all up the hill. Invest in heavy duty backpack, second lesson learned.

After classes I stopped by the Students Union ballroom and picked up my Fresh Fest backpack! YAY! I cannot believe how many goodies they packed into that thing! Coupons, bandana, water bottle and more that may be useful for the next three days of awesomeness! I suggest everyone to grab one if they can as it is totally worth it. I’ll try my best to take loads of photos of this weekend to share with everyone. Can’t wait for the weekend!

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Home sweet home

I’m back from my trip to Spain and Italy and wow is the jet lag ever bad! I keep waking up at four in the morning being wide awake and restless. Never should have slept on that eight hour flight. I’m setting up a photo album right away and once that is ready I’ll make sure to post about my adventures in Europe! Sadly it’s back to work tomorrow and summer is almost completely over. I also realize now how unprepared I feel I am for school.

I’m mainly nervous about how my classes will be! There are so many little things like are you supposed to just get up and leave the class if you need the washroom? I know it may sound silly but in high school you ask for everything so now you’re on your own. I’m also wondering about the work load. Will there be lots of homework like papers and projects? My schedule look pretty free when I look at it but will that be actual free time?

I also remembered that I have to organize my tuition and how I’ll manage to pay for all that. Hopefully I’ll have a little bit saved after all my travels this year. Scholarships to the rescue! There are so many that can be searched on the web and applied for anytime during your studies. The question is when will I have time to look for them?!

Lastly I’m wondering how early to show up for classes and where would be the best place to lock up my bike. Since I live so close to the university I figured walking or biking will be the healthiest and greenest way to get to school.

I’m hoping those things will just work themselves out once school actually gets underway. It all starts on Wednesday . . .

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