My highlights of first year university

Starting university is rarely easy for students. Meeting new friends, getting to grips with your classes and for some, moving away from home for the first time are all challenges. My first year experience has looked nothing like the previous years before, and I didn’t have a playbook on how to navigate university online. 

I’m almost at the finish line of first year, and it amazes me how it went by so fast. As I think about where I was at the start of September to where I am now, there has been a fair share of challenges, but a lot of growth both academically and personally. Here are a few highlights of my first year at Ryerson

Interviewing “streeters”

This was probably an all-time favourite of mine, and one I’ll always remember. I was covering a protest for a story day in my JRN 103 Journalism class, and I had the opportunity to interview random strangers. It was intimidating, to say the least, but it was exactly why I picked this program. You’re always being thrown into the action while being supported by your professors and peers. At the protests, it took me 20 minutes to work up the nerve to speak to a police officer, and I had never done anything like this before. In short, story days are where you have under seven hours to interview, write and edit a story all while compiling audio footage. It may seem like it’s easy, but I promise you the day goes by so fast. I look forward to telling people about this experience because of how amazing I felt during the interview. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, and this moment was a confidence booster reminding me that I can do anything. 

Journalism student interviewing stranger

Interviewing a “streeter” for the first time in Toronto, Canada.

Making friends

This one was scary. I had no clue if I was going to make friends or not. Given the circumstances, it would be harder than if I was on campus. That said, it wasn’t impossible and I’m living proof of that. A lot of students were eager to make friends, and everyone was open-minded about joining a Zoom call and chatting for an hour. Joining the WhyRyerson Accepted Facebook page was the best decision I made since it led to multiple group chats I could join to connect with other students. 

I made the majority of my friends via social media, and during breakout sessions in a Zoom lecture. When you work on group assignments you’re bound to speak with your peers, and sometimes you may hit it off and become friends with each other. I was really scared about not making friends this year because communicating with people online can be difficult. Starting university was a new chapter in my life and I was eager to meet new people. I’m really grateful that I’ve met a few friends this year that I still talk to daily. If anything, meeting friends online has made it less stressful for when I return to campus since I’ll have familiar faces to keep an eye out for. 

Face-time call with two Ryerson students

Speaking with industry professionals 

In my second semester, I had the chance to chat with a few industry professionals like Lainey Lui from The Social and etalk and Shanelle Kaul from CP24. It was one of the coolest moments of my life, and I am celebrating the fact that I did keep my cool even though I wanted to fangirl over them. All around, I had the honour of meeting different people from across the country and around the world, from different backgrounds, sharing interests and views about anything and everything. Engaging in conversation with people at Ryerson is a rewarding and fulfilling experience where you’re bound to create memories. Meeting new people and attending lectures have all shaped my perception and made me a more well-rounded person, and that has been an important part of my experience.  

Shot of Lainey Lui, co-host of The Social and Journalism student, Sonia speaking over a Zoom call

Writing for The EyeOpener 

In case you forgot, I am a Journalism student. While I still go back and forth on my career goals, I enjoy writing. I wrote down a list of goals that I hope to accomplish by the time I graduate, and one of those goals was to write for The EyeOpener. News flash, I did it! I wrote a story under the fun and satire section called “Seven steps to prepare for meeting your online friends in-person” and it’s a story that holds a special place in my heart. It was a great experience collaborating with upper-year students who have way more experience than I do and were able to help me become a better writer. Writing for the publication was an awesome way to end off my first year, and I only hope to write more for them. 

Shot of news publication The Eyeopener newsprint


In the end, this year has been a wild ride. I still have moments where I still feel like I’m in high school because being a university student hasn’t sunk in yet. This year has been tough, but I believe that it’s made me more resilient as a person. I’m grateful for all of the opportunities and experiences I’ve gotten over this past year, and am happy that I enjoyed my first year experience at Ryerson despite being online. I always felt safe and comfortable with my professors and peers, and I can’t wait to see what the next three years have in store for me. 


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