People always ask me why I would ever want to leave the UK to be in Toronto. I usually explain that A) the weather sucks in the UK B) my family is here and C) I was seriously unwell in my first year. But this is the extended explanation of why I transferred.
(I’d also like to point out that Cardiff University, where I spent my first year, is great. I’m by no means slating them!)
Sometimes, things get weird. University life is no different. I recently had a flashback to one of my favourite “uni life” moments from first year. It was a dark and rainy evening in Cardiff. I had been in my room, oblivious, pottering about doing some reading (or more realistically, watching Netflix) when I heard a strange slapping sound coming from towards my open window. I ignored it; I have really bad hearing and I assumed it was my imagination.
That is, until I caught a glimpse of something falling past my window, and I realised that it was raining ham.
You read that correctly. Slices of ham were falling from the sky and hitting my window on the way down. Why the occupants of the flat above mine were chucking ham out their window beats me, but it’s not something I’ll forget in a while. Because it was in that moment that I realised that it was dark and rainy outside. I also realised around this time that I was absolutely not happy in the situation I was in. Something really funny had just happened, and the only people I wanted to tell were an ocean away.
Sometimes, things get tough. University life is no different. I’m sure we’ve all been there. There are days when we all question whether we’ve made a huge mistake, whether we even deserve to be where we are. I have definitely wrestled with the feeling that my getting into Glendon was a fluke. It seemed like I’d stumbled in almost by accident, as if I had fooled everyone into letting me come here. I by no means felt deserving. When I first got here, I found myself feeling like I wasn’t as great as the people surrounding me. I remember thinking that this place was too good to be true- and too good for me.
It’s easy to fall into that trap without even realising it. You continue to go about everyday life- doing your readings, watching Netflix, and you don’t even realise how dark and rainy it has become until something weird happens. Sometimes, it takes ham falling from the sky to make you look outside and see what’s really going on.
One of the most important skills I’ve developed in the last few years is self-awareness. Learning to recognise the patterns that indicate when I need to change my behaviour, my thinking and my situation has been the saving grace of my student experience- and I learned it the hard way. I know that when I withdraw into my own world, that is when I need to be reaching out. I know that when the words won’t come, that’s when I need to be speaking up. I know that when everything is dark, I need to look for the ham.
Transferring was not a decision I took lightly. I knew in the summer that I was not healthy enough or happy enough to go back to the UK for second year. I did not want to live in a place where I felt like an outsider. I did not want to spend every day in pain, and not have anyone to make me a cup of tea when I was too tired to do it myself. But I also did not want to quit. I didn’t want to be defeated. I did not want to leave and start over all over again. I was so, so scared to step away from the “normal” path.
I knew that transferring would not be easy, but I knew that it was something I had to do. Something had to give, and I could not allow it to be my physical or mental wellbeing.
I’m still not feeling all that well, but I’m doing better. I’m lucky that Glendon is such a kind and supportive place. I’ve met so many people who have been open and unashamed of the struggles they’ve faced, and the support they’ve recieved from this community. People who understand. And isn’t that what every community should strive for? To be a safe place for all?
So when people ask me what I think about Glendon, my first answer is always that the community is wonderful. People care. It is evident anywhere on campus. And for me, that was why I chose to be here.