It’s been four years of tears, sweat, happiness and laughter. My undergrad has finally come to an end and I don’t know what to feel; should I be relieved? Should I cry? Or maybe I should cheer and dance around in circles! Instead, I have some reflective thoughts on the last four years since leaving my hometown behind for the big city.
Often I’ve been asked if I regretted choosing Toronto over staying in Edmonton. My initial instinctive answer would be, yes. Home is just so much more convenient, all my friends are there and my family is in Alberta-who would want to leave the comfort of their own home for a big foreign country *cough* CITY I mean CITY (just seems like a foreign country sometimes)!! *Ahem* But the more and longer I’ve been thinking about it. No. I have absolutely no, nada, zero regrets coming to Toronto. I probably have had my hardest four years up to date, but now I see how essential the move was to me developing as a person. These past four years in Toronto has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Toronto is definitely not the city for me to settle down in, but I’m not ready to settle down! So it doesn’t matter! What is awesome is that my university experience in this city has been an incredible journey. I don’t know how much longer I’ll stay here, but there are absolutely no regrets and here’s why:
- Growing up: Sure, we all mature with age (well, most of us anyways *coughchriscough*) but, there is something about the transformation of being “the big fish in the small pond” into the “small-medium-sized fish in a really large lake” which is so important in shaping me. There is something humbling about falling flat on your face when you are 18, after years of relative success, then succeeding exponentially in different areas you never thought possible. Sure I’ve gone through cycles of ups and downs (but who or what doesn’t, the economy is a testament to that), but in the end I always triumph and learn something more about myself and the people and world around me.
- Putting independence to the test: Not only do I have to walk to the doctor by myself, I have to figure out bank investments, residential situation, job postings, food, ALL decisions all by MYSELF. This may seem like a lot of fun in the beginning, but I know there are times when I wished my mom could have make me congee and driven me to the doctor or even something as simple as making sure I wake up on time so I do not miss my exams. Beyond that, you are also provided with the independence to figure yourself out without the influences of your close friends and your family. Now this may be a bad thing if you fall in with the wrong crowd, but being in a competitive environment like at the University of Toronto, you figure a lot about who you are, what makes you tick and what really drives you. I know through this experience I didn’t want to become a partner at KPMG, but instead maybe a partner at Fleishman-Hillard or Hill+ Knowlton.
- Networking opportunity from a business perspective: I live right beside Bay Street. That’s kinda awesome. So many companies are HQ’d in Toronto and to be able to meet CEOs and EVPs like Arlene Dickinson and Kirstine Stewart has been something I would have never even dreamed of back in high school.
- It’s cheaper and easier to travel to the States: I love Boston and it’s a relatively short ride down to Massachusetts. New York is also a bus ride away and so it is easy to plan a trip with friends to take off for the weekend.
- There is so much to do in the city: From theatre, to ballet, to red carpet premieres and unique eating places, there is no shortage of things to do in the city! You just need to know where to look. BlogTo has been a bff of mine’s these past 4 years. It has information about EVERYTHING in Toronto.
- THE PEOPLE: While some retail workers just need a new perspective on life and not hate on world so much, the majority of people are really friendly. There is someone in the city who you have some kind of commonality or distant relation (not necessary by blood) to. From friendly (*coughcutecough*) baristas to friendly coworkers and welcoming suitemates, I have built so many relationships in my four short years here. I know these will carry over through life because we all went through so much together. We come from all over the world and have various backgrounds and interests. So much of Toronto is enjoyed because of the friendships you make with everyone during your university years.
So there you have it! The saddest thing for me in life, is to hear that someone holds regret. Life is all about growth and experience. If we had all the answers, then why are we even here? So look back, and reflect to see how all the dots have connected and the equation has added up to who you are today. As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only collect them looking backwards.”