Frosh, mentors, and memes: University advice from a first-year student

By Farheen H.

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Farheen H. is a first-year aerospace engineering student at Carleton.

Upper-years and graduates often say that freshman year in university is always a turning point in one’s life. Having gone through it myself this year, I can’t express how true this statement stands. This year was a year of many ‘firsts’. Along with my first year in Aerospace Engineering, it’s also my first time in Canada, away from family. It was accompanied by getting lost for the first time and many other ‘independent living firsts.’ All in all, there was the burdening responsibilities of living independently and settling in a freezing new country, along with the struggle of socialising and surviving university.

A hack to the start of my journey was to attend the Engineering Frosh Week, where I met my mentors. It was a unanimous teaching to all us ‘froshies’ that this is the year of trial and error. As the fall semester progressed, mistakes were inevitable. However,  their advice helped me keep my calm and not freaked out over ‘winging’ classes. A wise meme once said, “It’s only in university, that despite of not paying attention in class, you can be proud of yourself that you actually made it to class.” That is not my advice to newcomers, but the first step is making to all classes.  As the semesters pass by, the workload only gets worse, but now I know what I am getting myself into, and I’ve also gotten better at formulating a study plan. The priorities have been set right!

It’s a no-brainer that friends are the most important factor in a freshman’s struggle. Once again EngFrosh was a kick-start for making friends, and also a great help in choosing which clubs to join. All clubs have a significant contribution in shaping a student’s progress and social life through university. Being a director in the Engineers Without Borders was among my successes this year. Volunteering with the Carleton Mechanical and Aerospace Society was my haven through the rigorous courses that were making me rethink my major. And the best for last, I am blessed to be a part of the Carleton University Muslim Student’s Association. It’s the ‘Best of Both Worlds’. Although the concept of peer pressure is usually applied negatively, I feel that there is peer pressure to excel in ‘deen’ (faith) in this society. I was afraid, I’d fall back in deen, but with the motivation from the CU-MSA, I have never been firmer in my Iman. Also, the upper years are so generous with their time and efforts, to explain the torturous engineering concepts and providing moral support when I was at my break point. There are also many other sources to make sense of these courses, the PASS classes and Elsie McGill centre is a blessing, Alhamdulillah!

It’s important to draw out a rough plan for our journey in university, because it gives a sense of direction and connection between classes. But I feel finding a role model and mentor in one’s stream, is an easier way. I couldn’t have found a better person, to look up to, than our beloved Biftu Hulo. If I accomplish most of what she has succeeded in, Insha’Allah I would be a successful Aerospace engineer.

Be it any university, the main motive is to maintain one’s calm and trust in Allah. I am grateful to Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) for His guidance and help throughout this eventful year, as well as for the amazing friends for being my anchors and making Ottawa home.

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