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Students sitting and talking indoors at UBC
September 13, 2018
3 mins read

How to Adult: Starting anew

UBC’s incoming class of first years is a diverse bunch, but you’ve all got one thing in common: you’re starting over.

No matter if you’ve moved here from the other side of the world or you’re just commuting from Kits, starting university is still the start of a whole new chapter. It’s a whole new school, a new learning environment, and a huge new community.

There’s something about leaving high school and entering university that really makes you feel like you have to be a grown up, that you have to start learning “how to adult”.

But here’s the problem: what does that even mean?

Big transitions like this can be scary, but they’re also a great opportunity to learn about yourself and figure out what you want. You’ll meet new friends, find new interests, and maybe develop a new personal style. I even know people who took leaving high school as an opportunity to change their name!

How do you get to that point? How do you get comfortable in a new space and start becoming the new you? How do you, in short, become your adult self?

Be open

The most important thing is to be open to new things.

When you’re starting something new, it’s really easy to cling to the familiar. You might be tempted to only sit with your high school friends in class or spend all your evenings FaceTiming your family back home.

While both of those things are fine in moderation, you should remember that you came here for a reason! Make efforts to talk to new people and say yes to as many experiences as possible, even if they don’t initially feel like your thing. You never know what might end up surprising you!

Stay grounded

That said, it’s still helpful to find something familiar to keep you grounded. Feelings of homesickness are totally normal, no matter how much fun you’re having.

When I went on exchange in third year, I had more trouble adjusting than I expected. I didn’t realize how different the UK could be from Canada! When I was feeling detached or anxious, I would head over to my local Starbucks. Sounds silly, I know—but Starbucks is basically the same no matter where you go in the world, and I found that familiarity oddly comforting.

Find something in your environment that makes you feel at home. It could be as small as wearing a bracelet that reminds you of home or drinking a particular kind of tea. Whatever gives that little bit of comfort.

Group of students sitting and chatting at Sprouts Cafe at UBC

Reach out

Remember, you’re part of a huge community (around 45,000 undergrads alone!). UBC is filled with people who are transitioning, starting over, leaving home, or trying new things. If you’re feeling out of sorts, you’ll surely be able to find someone who feels the same or has been through it before.

Talk to people in your classes, on your floor, or in your residence dining room. Join clubs, go to office hours, and attend events! Nothing will make a transition easier than doing everything you can to interact with the people around you. You’re not alone in this, and isolating yourself will only create more confusion and fear.

Connect with your community

The UBC Life Blog is a great place to read student stories and advice that might help you find your way here at UBC. Check back regularly for new posts on all sorts of topics, including more to come from our How to Adult series, which will cover everything from professional development to living on your own to maintaining relationships.

You can also find out more about what’s going on in the UBC student community by following us on Instagram or Twitter. That way, you’ll see info about upcoming events and opportunities—and sometimes even contests—right in your personal feed!

Big change can be overwhelming, but there’s no reason you won’t be able to handle it like a champ. It’s a whole new world!