For me, this semester feels less like a fresh start and more like the beginning of the end. After five years of working towards my degree, this is my last semester and seeing everyone talk about the “last first day of school” is honestly giving me a lot of conflicting feelings. There’s excitement for the life ahead of me, fear of being stuck and jobless upon graduation, the impending exhaustion of a busy semester when I’m so close to being finished, and a lot of nostalgia for the life that I built here.
It’s been a long few years, but it’s also been an amazing time in my life – as I’ve mentioned before, I came to Ottawa knowing no one and was so scared I tried to hop a flight home, but by the end of my first semester I was in love with Ottawa, my courses, and the friends I’d made. It wasn’t always easy, I worked hard over the last five years to build the life I have now and I’m very torn between being sad to let it go and trying to soak in every second – every moment of chaos in my kitchen with my five roommates all laughing over bad jokes with each other, wholesome sing-a-longs in the 3300 block in Mackenzie, every gorgeous sunset over the Experimental Farm and every one of my favourite Ottawa haunts. My plan for the next few months is to take all the opportunities I can to indulge in, even if I’m tired or busy, because these opportunities may not come around again. Maybe that means I order a little too much late night pizza and stay up late with my roommates or lose my voice at karaoke, but I know it’s those times I’ll look back on fondly when I think about this time in my life. I’m going to laugh, cry and indulge in the things I love this semester, even the last times, and make sure I’m fully present and enjoying these moments while I still have them.
There are also some parts of my life that I’m ready to let go of – like having no homework, not living on a student budget and peace and quiet that can only come from not living with five people. I’ve learned so much about myself and how to communicate in this world, and have gotten the chance to hone my skills through real work experiences and volunteer opportunities, and I’m ready to learn more and apply those skills in a real world context. That comes with a price, though – this means taking time out of my already busy schedule to apply for jobs and search for apartments, which is more time consuming and complicated than I ever imagined. I also have to try to figure out what my back up plan is – where will I live if I don’t find a place by the time my lease runs out at the end of April? Even if I find a place, how will I pay for it if I don’t find a job? Not to mention worries about what kind of job I’ll get, because while at the end of the day I need some form of income to pay rent and have food, I do have career goals and specific ideas about what kind of work I want to do and where I want to do it. So, while I’m excited for what lies ahead, there’s still a lot up in the air and a lot of groundwork to do before I get there, which will take up a lot of time going into a semester where I want to spend my time enjoying the things I’m leaving behind, and doing enough schoolwork to actually be able to graduate.
I wish I could tell you what my future holds after graduation, or that it’s all going to work out perfectly, but if I’ve learned a few things over the last five years, it’s been how to enjoy the moment I’m in and that no matter what happens I can get up and keep moving forward. I have four months left to enjoy and soak in all the things and people I love in my life right now, a degree to finish, and the next chapter of my life to plan. Even if it’s busy I’m going to love every minute of it.
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