Mayah (Year 3)
What did you wish you knew before going to your university? What made you choose this institution over all others? What are advantages and disadvantages of your institution or campus? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your university.
Queen’s seemed like the right choice for me based on the environment. Although Queen’s is known for their particularly generic population based on Instagram pages and help from upper years when I was a first year, I personally thought of the Queen’s student environment as more of an “ Everybody love Everybody” place despite its reputation. As a POC I have personally not experienced racism on the Queen’s campus and in my program everyone is very welcoming and kind. However, I have experienced racism in Kingston itself. Yet, I still managed to make numerous friends within my program with multiple POC and have become best friends with many of them. Personally, I do love my school, I love being at school and I love the friends I have made. I do not have any regrets about choosing Queen’s but I am ashamed of the recent racialized attacks on the First Nations Centre and the closeted abuse of many as shown in StolenbySmith. I truly believe that your experience at Queen’s can be what you make of it, surround yourself with positive energy, work hard and find yourself.
What did you wish you knew before choosing your specific program? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your program? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your program of study.
At the beginning of school in first year, I had set out to study life sciences and took all the prerequisites needed to do life sciences (I would have taken them regardless as they are MCAT prerequisites) but in my head I believed that I would do the life sciences program. However, that idea quickly started to diminish as I realized my strengths lied in biology and psychology. I contemplated whether I should even do life sciences, because I didn’t particularly enjoy the required courses in second year and I wanted to have the ability to accelerate my GPA based on courses I particularly enjoyed and was good at. In my second year, after a lot of deliberating, I decided to enter the Biopsychology specialization program and have not looked back since. I am able to take many of the courses I enjoy and avoid many of the courses I do not. I have only excelled through choosing the right courses for me and not the most popular choice for many and have noticed personal growth in my study habits and myself as a result. Most students do not end up doing the course they set out to do in first year, the best advice would be to choose the plan that you are most compatible with and that works the best for you.
What was your favourite university experience?
My best experience at university I would say was first year, but second year was also great and I believe it’s because of the people I surrounded myself with and how similar we were. I ended up staying with friends or living with many people from my residence and therefore was able to have positive experiences in both years. As I have said, your experience at Queen’s can be based on the positive energy you surround yourself with, so ensure not only that you are picking the right courses but also the right energy.
What was your least favourite university experience?
My worst experience at Queen’s would definitely be having to take my least favourite courses for a full year. In first year, your courses are mostly full year and the professors tend to make first year harder to supposedly “ween” people out of a program they are not strong at. Due to this, I found myself studying excessively for exams that seemed impossible which was draining and discouraging.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
The hardest part about my program would genuinely be the required courses. The second year required courses aren’t as necessarily hard because it is based on what you excel at, but a lot of them are a little more general and wouldn’t be courses some people would necessarily pick for themselves (but understandable nevertheless based on being in a biology or psychology degree). I couldn’t escape the plant courses but it made sense that I would have to take them. However, in most of these courses where I didn’t particularly enjoy the topics, I found myself having a great grade despite this because I went to class everyday and it’s easy to learn about topics if your professor is passionate about it and a great teacher, which many of the upper year professors are.
If you were able to take electives, what was your favourite elective? If you were not able to take electives, what was your favourite course and why?
My favourite course at Queen’s by far was clinical psychology (psych 236) I never missed a lecture and I wouldn’t have wanted to anyways. Professor Bowie was by far the best professor I have ever had. He was funny and his material was engaging. I actually ended up getting an A+ in the course and 100% on the final just because of how much I genuinely loved his teaching and the course itself. If you have a chance at all to take 236, DO IT, especially if you love the learning outcomes; it was the best decision I’ve made.
Make sure you bring food or buy food when you go to the library...you won’t focus if you’re hungry and craving Starbucks. Trust me.