Sometimes planning out how your university experience is going to go is stressful. I’ve been planning out my next few years at Glendon lately, so I wanted to talk about my program at Glendon and why I was led here.
I’ve always had a big interest in politics that I got from my mom. She’s been politically active her whole life and we have a tradition of sitting up and watching election results come in since 2006. Having politics be a common discussion in my house helped me gain an interest and understanding of it that made me the typical over-politicized kid at high school. I also got to go on two seminars in Ottawa through my high school. The first, Forum for Young Canadians, brought together a bunch of kids across the country for sessions in the House of Commons, the Supreme Court, and the Senate. The second, Encounters with Canada, did much the same; however, I chose to do the International Affairs week, which brought me into DFAIT (Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade) and some embassies along Sussex Drive. I also got to be part of a trip to the Dominican Republic, where we spent each day working with disadvantaged people throughout the country.
At this point I knew I loved politics, enjoyed learning about and experiencing different cultures, and wanted to do my best to change the current system that doesn’t seem to have developing countries getting any further ahead. I knew International Studies was the program for me, and that I had specific things I wanted from my bachelor’s degree. Two languages are a must to work in international affairs; an exchange is something I wanted to do during university, when it is cheaper and government financial support is available; a big city was important for my personal happiness, as a was a small campus.
Right from the get-go Glendon was my clear choice. Working things into my degree can be difficult, but then there’s a lot I intend to do while I’m here. Being in the International Bachelor of Arts, I take more courses in French than normal as well as courses with an international flair, meaning I have less room for electives. I want to do a double-major between International Studies and Political Sciences, and decided I wanted Spanish to be my third language. Third year I’ll head overseas to France (conveniently with Francette) to get the experience of living abroad.
I intend to leave having been extremely involved in the school community. Between my classes (I take French, Intro to Spanish, Intro to Comparitive Politics, International Geography, and International Society) I’m a Glendon Ambassador, a First Year Representative with GCSU, a member of the Faculty Council, and now a soon-to-be barista at a Target Starbucks. University is one of those rare times where you have the chance to get involved in everything you can; the only limit is your ability to balance and manage your time. Some may say I’ve bitten off more than I can chew; I say that it’s only at your limits that you really have the chance to make a name for yourself.
Being an International Studies students can seem a bit vague; sometimes, its hard to separate reality from theory. I have to remind myself from time to time that tackling big international problems means that I have to understand the processes that have created the current world system. Sometimes I think, ‘maybe I should have flown off oversees and volunteered my time and energy to make a real difference in peoples’ lives’, which I feel is something many Canadian youth feel. When I sit back and think about it, though, I think that for me, because I have the opportunity to get an education, it’s important to go through university first. It’s both a time to mature and experiment and important for future opportunities. I can’t wait to actually go out into the world and start applying my education in some way, but I know that taking the time to learn all I can will pay off in the future.
It’s important to know that your program isn’t the defining factor of university, but it’s still important. You’ll make friends in and outside of your program; you’ll make decisions to hang out rather than study; you’ll burn out at least once. That’s why its important to choose a program that you’re really passionate about – it has to be worth the stress and the second doubts every university student will run into at least once.
Until you get here, you might not know exactly what to expect, no matter how much you read. Try out some of the courses at universities you’ve applied to (Glendon has March Break U and Shadow Programs for this, you should try them!) or, ask me any questions you might have before you commit!