The life of a mature student ain’t so bad

When I graduated high school in April of 2000, I can clearly remember saying aloud, “I will never go back to school,” and at the time I meant it.

Now, 10 years later, I am half-way across the country, going into my second year of university and totally in love with the experience.

But it wasn’t always that way.

For eight years after high school I was devoted to a different life. I worked 40 hours a week, paid my bills, smoked way too much weed and pursued my other passion, acting.

After 10 years as an aspiring actor I had become disillusioned; the enthusiasm that had once burned so strong for the arts did not carry the same vibrancy it once did.

I had to find a new path so I turned to my other passion, Canadian military history– quite a switch, I know.

Flash forward several months and I am in Waterloo starting university; it was one hell of a transformation, let me tell you.

I was used to a life of my own design for 10 years, but now I had a class schedule, homework, readings and assignments. More importantly, though, was the huge social shift.

I moved from Halifax, where I had lived for 26 years, where I had friends, family and people my own age who knew me and I could easily relate to.

In Waterloo, however, I only really had my cat and, luckily, a pair of close friends that I was able to live with.

But by this point they had a family of their own and were quite removed from university life; they could only assist me in my monumental adjustment ever so slightly.

I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t identify with the people around me.
I always knew that my first-year experience was going to be radically different from most everyone else; however, I couldn’t have underestimated more just how difficult it would prove to be.

Without the social cocoon of the Orientation Week experience to acclimatize me to the radical shift that is university (I chose to opt out for, I hope, fairly obvious reasons), I began my journey not knowing anybody at my school.

I also lacked the ability to relate to the people I was sharing the school with.
First semester was a constant challenge; I questioned if I was truly on the right path or if I was even cut out for school.

Essentially, every day became a test of my endurance; I spent a lot of time alone and even went to counseling for some help.

Gradually, I began to meet people, though much younger that me, that I could find some middle ground with.

I surrounded myself with solid people who had similar goals and I started to feel like I was fitting in.

Things really changed after the holiday break; going home and seeing my family and friends was a very cleansing experience.

I returned to school with a new level of devotion to both my studies and living the university experience.

I stopped thinking I was an old man and realized I had more things in common with the people I was going to school than not.

My perspective had shifted and I realized I wasn’t alone; everyone was going through pretty much the same thing as me, I just needed to find that common ground between us so that we could relate.

What really made a huge difference though was getting more involved in the Laurier community.

I had been a photo volunteer for both the Atrium magazine as well as The Cord in first semester, but I also added to my already packed schedule with a role in a play at the Fr!nge festival and created a new campus club with a friend.

I became so busy I rarely left campus until 2 a.m. – at the earliest – but, you know what, I was finally happy.

Now, second year holds the promise of the friends I have gained and challenges I have conquered, and I couldn’t be more excited for it.

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