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A New Year, A New School – Some Advice for the Newbies


It’s an unfortunate fact of life that all good things eventually come to an end. As the summer holiday draws to a close, all of us would inevitably mourn the loss of two months of sunshine and freedom and sleeping in. But the beginning of a new school year also hails the arrival of new possibilities and opportunities, as well as the gathering of friends, both old and new. It’s all very exciting, but it can be a little intimidating, too, especially for the students who are spending their first year here at Collingwood.

During my nine years of schooling (you might notice that I’m in Grade 11 right now – it’s a long and confusing story), I have been to five different schools in two different countries. In fact, I have joined the wonderful Collingwood community only last year. I’d like to think that I’ve acquired some insight into how this whole “newbie” business works along the way, so I thought that I might give some advice to all of this year’s new students.

So, in no particular order, here is a list of things that you might find helpful to keep in mind as you step into our beautiful campus and mingle with our lovely community:

1) Give yourself some time to adjust and don’t be discouraged. Don’t expect to be comfortable with everything and everyone in the school within the first week, or the first month, or even the first semester of the year. Don’t beat yourself up for making rookie mistakes. Some people might adjust faster than others, but rest assured that there’s nothing wrong with you if you’re not one of them; it’s okay to learn to love Collingwood and all your peers on your own time, and at your own pace.

2) Ask people if you don’t know something. Don’t be afraid of being a nuisance. Your teachers and classmates are there to answer your questions and help you through this period of adjustment. Remember: there are no dumb questions. By asking about something, you might even make a connection or form a friendship you wouldn’t have otherwise.

3) Join clubs and activities that interest you. From the Robotics Club to Round Square, you’re bound to find one or two that you like. Also, don’t hesitate to start your own club if you think that something’s missing. Don’t make decisions about extracurricular activities based on what other people think, and don’t feel overly pressured to fill up all of your free time with them – just pick out something you find interesting and get involved. You’re much more likely to find genuine friendships based on common interests this way, and you’re more likely to have fun and stick it out until the end.

4) Step out of your comfort zone a little. Do something you ordinarily wouldn’t do. Join the basketball team if you don’t play sports often. Take an arts course if you aren’t good at drawing. Who knows? You may very well wind up finding your new favourite hobby. There are so many opportunities for you to seize here at Collingwood. Don’t back away from them. After all, you have little to lose and everything to gain.

5) Be yourself. This probably sounds cliché, but it’s really the best advice I can give. You’ll get the most joy and satisfaction out of your Collingwood experience if you focus on the people and activities that feel the most right to you, regardless of what others think you should do. Have faith that people will accept you for who you are, don’t be afraid to do the things that make you happy, and be prepared to enjoy some of the best years of your life here at Collingwood!

By: Angela Wang

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