The journey from your first to last year in university can seem to take a long time. Yet by many accounts, the years fly by! As an incoming student, you should know that what happens in the classroom matters just as much as what happens outside of it. Extracurriculars allow you to step out of your comfort zone, meet new people and test what you are truly capable of.
I sat down with Annelise Vintila, who recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing (with Honours). She is one of the most hardworking women I know, and she told me how she got involved on campus, how it changed her life and how similarly engaging could change yours.
“I originally got into Glendon for English and York’s Keele campus for Professional Writing. I came to York on a tour with my mom, and I said, ‘I want to be here, I love this place’. Frosh Week came and I was super nervous, I didn’t know anyone. I put on my Frosh shirt and everyone else was having tons of fun. People were having conversations, but I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I ended up crying in the stairwell, until I heard Ashley Estwick [former athletic representative and president of Stong College] doing a cheer, and I just went in and said to myself, ‘I think I’m going to like this place’. I stopped crying, and ended up meeting so many great people.”
“[After Frosh Week] I ended up doing a lot of intramurals, because I didn’t really have friends and I wanted to do something with my time off. I did about 30 different sports and got Rookie of the Year. It saved me, as it was really what I needed and where my connections were. In second year, I continued doing intramurals and in third year, I went into Athletics [term refers to running for the Athletics Chair or Athletics Director position on a College council, thus becoming a part of the Student Intramural Recreational Council]. I was petrified, I was really shy, and Ashley Estwick ran with me. I went in because I loved sports, and we ended up winning the Torch [trophy given to a College every year for most participants and championships won in intramural sports]. In fourth year, I went into Athletics with my best friend Maria and we won the Torch again. In fifth year, I was vice-president of Stong College. It was very different. I got involved with The Flying Walrus [Stong College’s newspaper] because I loved writing. It was amazing.”
“[By getting involved] I learned to have a backbone. In my first and second year, I had none. Joining council as well made me learn to not be aggressive but to stand up for myself. Don’t let people step all over you; that’s your person. I learned how to talk to people and be more comfortable with myself. I went out of my comfort zone a lot, but I wouldn’t have learned anything about the campus or me if I didn’t.”
Annelise adds for incoming students, “Even if you don’t talk to anyone, just go to the events. Just put yourself out there. Through the events, you see a lot of different perspectives, and you learn so much about how York runs. For the first four days [of Frosh Week], I didn’t even talk to anyone, I just went to the events. I had so much fun. You’re in university, you meet all these different people, so why not take the opportunity to find out things about yourself? York’s amazing. I will forever love York.”
Amazing, right? So get started yourself. Check out the events for O-Week this year and don’t forget to register for York Orientation Day. Let me know how it goes or tweet any questions or ideas to at @yorkustudents!