To students currently studying in Nanmo: 

Hi, I’m Annie Chen. I graduated last year, and I’m currently studying at Queen’s University as a science and education double major. Last June, I stepped out of Nanmo’s gate, leaving behind my school uniform. In these three months since university started, I began attending university, kicking off my university life. Hopefully I can give you some information or just some anecdotes based on my 3-month experience. 

You are probably curious about what it’s like to live in Canada. Unfortunately, I’m curious as well. Due to COVID-19, I will finish my first year in university in Shanghai, with the possibility of saying goodbye to my chance of living in a dorm forever. I hope the current grade 12 students won’t face the same unfortunate situation as me next September. Other than that, I may conclude my 3-months life with three words: freedom, independence, responsibility. Firstly, I may have some words about independence. You may hear teachers in high school, or even junior high school say there won’t be any teachers to check on you after going to university. I promise they didn’t lie to us about this. Perhaps your parents may check on you since you are home for online studies. Other than that, no teacher will care whether you hand in your assignments or not. You need to depend on yourself for every grade you get, for every assignment you hand in. I may also call university students “households” since there is no “class” concept like 12A, 12B in universities. You make your own choice. Especially during online courses when you’re home alone, you would probably think it’s a one-person study and doesn’t feel like a school. Truly, you will feel independent in university. At the stage of 18 years old, it’s also the first step of being independent. 

Secondly, it’s about being free, or in other words, having more opportunities. I actually feel this point when I made my course selection in August. At that time, I was opened to many classes to choose from, and I could choose either 4, 5 or 6 courses based on personal willingness. (But I’ve heard some universities and some majors have fixed class schedules) Moreover, I would take our timetable as an example. We can drop any course until November 2nd. It can be said that the university gives you enough opportunities and time to make your course selection freely, but in fact, it also requires you to have clear cognition and rational planning for yourself. It would be best if you also had firmness and confidence to decide your path. Due to Queen’s University setting, about 90% of my courses are recorded, and over 80% do not take attendance. It is normal to be free during the online study: You can get up at any time; you can listen to your lecture at any time; you can have your own day off. It sounds nice, but it can make it worse, and it also has to do with the third responsibility I want to share. 

It is “mandatory” to learn time management in university. I would say that I’m not a self-disciplined person, so these days I’m kind of stressed and feeling a lot of pressure. This kind of pressure, some of it comes from the format of online learning, but more of it actually comea from the brand new stage of university. For instance, I was not used to writing a high school planner (please don’t follow my bad example!), but now, if I find that I didn’t write anything on my planner on Monday, I would update it as soon as possible. Because in high school, you had a lot of classmates with whom you could contact, so it seems that you can know exactly what to do tomorrow. Due to face-to-face communication, we can supervise each other. However, in university, due to online courses this year, the only way to find classmates of the same class has become a social media platform, and you have never even met the person on the other side of the mobile phone, just like my current classmate whom I communicate most with, I have never met her. At this time, it would be necessary for you to have time management and responsibility for yourself. In addition to academic responsibility, health, extracurricular life also requires you to be responsible for yourself. Since online classes or college life has more time for you than high school, you should also keep exercising to keep fit. In order to get ready for university, I would recommend that you form a good exercise habit during the summer vacation and preview some relevant courses. The python knowledge I learned by myself in the summer vacation helped me to avoid a few days of headaches during the first two months of the CS courses. 

What I shared in this article is just my own personal experience. Not every school records their lecture, like the University of Toronto, my two friends always send me messages at three or even 4 a.m. At first glance, the online study may be more relaxed and free than taking off-line courses, but it’s also stressful and has other pressure. Self-adjusting and a reasonable schedule can be said to be the top priority. I hope grade 10 students can enjoy your three years of high school life and find themselves becoming more mature; grade 11 students can start to have some plans for your future, and for grade 12, you can take your scores slightly less ambitiously with less pressure. Scores are important, but you have to believe that even a few less than you think on the test paper does not mean that you will not have a good future. I wish you a bright future and a happy life!  

All the best.