And just like that, I’m done.
Despite the beginning of each semester feeling sluggish and slow, my undergraduate degree has passed by so incredibly quickly. A lot has happened in these five years, but throughout it all, I’ve grown and learned so much about myself and how I work.
Most of my first year – all of first semester – was essentially a write-off, as I struggled with personal matters while trying to adjust to the very different university schedule and workload. But I slowly figured out how I work and study best, and I would say by my fourth year I properly established my personal study system.
My degree, English Honours with a Minor in Political Science, meant that I was reading and writing all the time, and in my first few years especially, it wasn’t rare for me to feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of writing I had to produce or pages I needed to have read. Because you see, I can’t write last minute. So those caffeine fuelled, all-nighters to write a full paper were out of the question for me. Once I recognized that writing under pressure didn’t produce diamonds but rather sawdust, I figured out that I needed to start scheduling my time so I could get everything done in time.
So I did. I wrote to-do lists, and even divided my days into chunks. I didn’t always stick to the schedule, but I always knew what I needed to get done, which helped me enormously. Last February, two of my friends introduced me to bullet journalling, which suited my incredibly organized self perfectly. I fell in love immediately, and still use it everyday – even though I don’t have classes or papers anymore!
This ended up working well for me, and it meant that I was enjoying what I was doing, instead of frantically trying to finish one paper to move onto the next. Of course, I was often writing frantically, but it was a few days ahead of the deadline instead of a few hours.
Right now, less than two months after I submitted my last paper, I still remember all of the schoolwork I did, those final papers I wrote for those profs I loved, and those arguments I tried to make in 8-10 pages. But, I’m not sure that’s what will stick with me moving forward.
When I look back on my undergrad, I think I’ll remember the people I met, through my program, through the UBC ultimate team, and through my university job I’ve held for two years. I think I’ll remember my thesis, because it was such a huge part of my final semester, on a topic I was fully engaged with. It was the perfect blend of my major and my minor, allowing me to discuss a political topic through an English lens (broadly, I looked at the rhetoric of political campaigns, on the topic of immigration). So, I think I’ll remember that paper in particular, but the paper I wrote for one class in the winter of 2016 that I struggled so much with? I’ve already forgotten it.
First and second year feel like they happened in another life, while my last three years feel like they took place over the span of a single year.
So much has happened. I was lucky enough to travel internationally not once, but twice, to play ultimate. I met incredible friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life. I found a job at UBC that gave me a sense of what I’d like to do as a career, with coworkers who never treated me like an intern but as a valued member of the office. But there have been incredible lows as well. I struggled to reestablish a sense of self after a relationship ended in first year. My family dynamic changed forever, and as the oldest sister, I felt it was my responsibility to protect my two younger sisters. I had a back injury that essentially derailed my ultimate season for over a year (a huge part of my identity is ultimate), which has had lasting effects to today.
But all of this has ultimately helped me and shaped who I am today. It’s a cliched phrase, I know, but that doesn’t prevent it from being true.
So, as much as these past five years have been about my time at UBC, they have been about so much more. And that paper I received as I walked across the stage at the Chan Centre signifies not only that I have completed my degree, but I also got through everything else that has been thrown at me.
And I am pretty damn proud of myself.