4 Things I Learned In My First Year of Journalism School

I recently wrapped up my first year of journalism school. It went by so quickly, and although it was challenging I had a great year. In some other blog posts where  I’ve mentioned my journalism experiences, some commenters have been curious about the program. And, seeing as I’ve interacted with some bloggers who are also either aspiring or current journalism students, I decided to write a post about four of the many things I have learned this year. If you’re curious about anything else, feel free to ask in the comments!

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I took these photos in the morning of Nov. 9, just before I went out to interview people for my article about the election results. 

1. As a journalist, you have the opportunity to witness history.

I didn’t have any journalism exams this year; instead, we had “Story Days”; four or five days throughout the semester where we had to conduct interviews, take photos, record audio… to file by 5:30 p.m. the same day. One story day in first semester fell on Nov. 9, the day after the U.S. election. I was planning to write about Hillary Clinton becoming the first female president; but I ended up getting people’s reactions to Donald Trump winning the election.

Even though I wasn’t able to add my personal opinion in my article (I saved that for a blog post that I wrote a few days later) it was still an incredible feeling to be writing the same story that other journalists all over the world were writing. Witnessing Trump’s historical victory through writing an article about it was a really cool moment in my first year of studying journalism.

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I took tons of pictures of the CN Tower this year, but this is one of my favourite shots. 

2. Get photo composition right in the moment.

I learned pretty early on this year that heavy photo editing is frowned upon in journalism because it means altering the reality of an image. Not relying on editing or filters after the fact means it’s important to pay attention to compositional elements when taking the photo. I took most of my photos horizontally, and tried to remember elements like rule of thirds, lines, and framing. Thinking of these things when taking photos — and taking multiple shots instead of just one — helps you take good photos, without needing to edit them afterwards.

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OK, this photo is vertical (and slightly edited). But, hey, artistic rules are meant to be broken… right?

3. Forget “Less is more” when it comes to gathering material.

The adage “Less is more” may be true for word counts due to readers’ increasingly shortening attention spans, but it doesn’t ring true for the process that comes before writing. My journalism professors gave us guidelines on how many voices to include in our stories; often we’d need at least four.

However, this didn’t just mean going out, interviewing four people, and calling it a day. Four voices means four good voices who have interesting stories to tell. This means getting more interviews than required so that you can narrow it down to the best ones. As one professor said in our last lecture, you know you’ve done your job well when you have good quotes on the cutting board.

The same thing can be said of research, and even emailing sources; I remember one story day where I was looking for an expert in war journalism. I reached out to several war journalists, but ended up only hearing back from one. If I had only contacted one person, I probably wouldn’t have had a quote to include in my article.

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Toronto has no shortage of cool buildings to photograph!

4. You can do so many cool things with a journalism degree — and you don’t have to wait to graduate to get started.

When I reflect back on this year, I wrote a lot of things that I’m really proud of. For one of my last story days I pitched a story about press freedom on campus since there had been some incidents where student journalists were denied entry to on-campus events. This was a story that was important to me, and it ended up being my favourite article that I wrote this year. Having that opportunity to choose the story I wanted to cover has made me even more excited to branch out into other types of news writing and to continue pitching my original ideas.

And that was just for an in-class assignment — outside of class, there are so many interesting opportunities, from writing for on-campus publications to working on your own journalism-related projects. Working towards a degree in journalism is exciting because you don’t just get to do “real” journalism once you graduate; you get to do it while you’re in school!


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I Loved American Idol, But I Don’t Want It To Be Revived

I have written this before on my blog, but in case you don’t remember every post I’ve ever written I’ll say it again: I used to be a huge fan of American Idol. So much so, in fact, that I regularly took notes on the episodes (examples here). You may think, then, that as a prior Idol fanatic, I would be overjoyed at the recent speculation that the show will be revived. I am actually not overjoyed at this news—if anything, I am skeptical and unimpressed.

I don’t have anything against revivals in general. I like the idea of taking something from the past and repackaging it for the current generation; Netflix’s Riverdale, a dark twist on the Archie universe, is a good example of this. Despite being created in 1941, the Archie characters have a certain timeless appeal. There will always be an appetite for classic all-American high school characters, and much of the drama Archie and his friends faced in the comics translates well into today’s world.

American Idol is different. I’d say that the main “character” on the show is well-known pessimist Simon Cowell—but he left in 2010. When I was younger and heavily invested in the show, my parents often had to explain who the judges were. Granted, the show wasn’t necessarily targeted towards ten-year-olds, but still.

Today I couldn’t even name the judges of the final season; Google tells me they were Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, and Harry Connick Jr. If I am now the target audience of Idol—a young person with an iPhone who can vote for my favourite contestant without help from my parents—then I can say with certainty that those judges do not reflect the celebrity scene for my age group. This may very well be something addressed in Idol’s revival; a sweeping out of the “old”, so to speak, and a 2017-makeover for the show and its cast. But I am still not convinced.

In its prime, American Idol was the pinnacle of great television (or something like that). It produced huge stars and had a captive hold on viewers which was reflected in its ratings. Like most good things, it hit a peak and then it slid downhill. The show probably went on for too long as it was; it eventually became characterized, at least in my mind, by judge turnover and unmemorable contestants.

American Idol had its time in the spotlight, and it shone brightly. But it ended for a reason. Idol is one good thing that I wish could just exist in the past, without being repackaged for the future. I want to believe that Idol can be successful today; but there are already so many other reality competition shows, particularly singing ones.

American Idol was at its best when it was one of a kind, and it can no longer claim this. If it returns, it will be to a markedly different climate than the one it thrived in. If the show really is revived, it will be setting itself up for failure. And as a previous Idol superfan, I can’t bear to see this happen.


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A Glimpse of Spring

Today was one of those too-beautiful-for-words kind of days. It was warm and sunny during the day, but by early afternoon dark clouds had set in. The clouds gave way to rain and a tiny thunderstorm (I say “tiny” as if I didn’t jump out of my skin when I was walking outside and was surprised by a clap of thunder). After the clouds parted, a double rainbow appeared. Now, as I write this, the sky is pink and yellow and orange; all of the colours, all at once.

It’s been a rainy April where I live, but I’m not complaining about it — the rain has made the grass green, and brought beautiful, blossoming flowers. I decided to photograph the flowers tonight, alongside the sky, and I immediately knew I wanted to include my photos in a blog post. If a picture says a thousand words, then this post is a spring novel.


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Time Flies

As I “move on” in my education, so to speak—graduate from high school, finish my first year of university—I am beginning to realize just how true the saying “It goes by in the blink of an eye” really is. I entered high school almost five years ago. I remember getting off the bus and standing with my friends as we waited for the doors to be opened and for our time in high school to officially begin. I blinked and high school whizzed past. Before I knew it, I was wearing a robe and cap, walking across a stage to receive my high school diploma.

Eight months ago, I gathered my belongings into suitcases and moved into a university dorm. It felt like there was an eternal distance between me and my family and friends. But then I began to make new friends, and I realized that I love my program. I blinked, and my first year of university has flown past. I am shaking my head as I type this—because I can’t believe that I am mere weeks away from being one quarter of my way to my Bachelor of Journalism degree.

It’s a cliché saying, but I’ll say it anyways: It feels like just yesterday I was starting university. I can still feel the butterflies in my stomach that sprouted the morning of my program orientation. And I can still feel the excitement of those butterflies fading as the day went on and I met people who are now among my best friends. Time is funny in that way—how, as to quote C.S. Lewis, nothing changes day by day, but everything is different when you look back.

In my journalism program, we created private blogs to post our work onto. For a recent assignment, we had to edit the blog and ensure it was well organized. As I scrolled through all of my work from this year, I felt so proud of how far I have come. There is an obvious difference between the first article I wrote and my most recent article; not only have I become more confident in multimedia, such as photography and audio recordings, but I have also grown more comfortable with “streeter interviews” and conducting interviews in general.

It’s not just my work in journalism of which I am proud. This year I became a stronger essay writer after a particularly tough politics course first semester. I also learned a lot about subjects that I’ve never taken before. Before this year I had thought, for example, that my grade 10 history course would be the last history course I ever took. But then course selections rolled around, and, when faced with either microeconomics or world history since 1945, I selected the latter. It ended up being super interesting and useful, since Cold War history comes up in most of the politics courses I am taking.

It’s weird to think about my life at this time last year. In April 2016, I had just had my wisdom teeth taken out, and I was preparing for a school model United Nations conference. I think I had accepted my university offer at this time last year, though I didn’t know I’d be living on-campus, nor that I’d receive a scholarship which covered my tuition costs. University felt like it was so far off in the future, even though it was only months away. But then I blinked, and an entire year went by.

A lot of the time, when people talk about life going by in the blink of an eye they mention regrets that they have. The thing is, if I were to go back and talk to my high-school self, I wouldn’t tell myself to change anything. In high school, I was aware that time was flying by, so I made a conscious effort to make the most of my four years. They still went by quickly, but they were full of moments that I still hold close to my heart. I hope, three years from now, I will be able to say the same thing about my experience at university. If this year is any indication, it’s going to go by quickly—but it’s also going to be an amazing journey.


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A City of Stories

Today was a dark, cloudy Tuesday in downtown Toronto. As I was walking along a busy street, trying to make it to my class before rain spilled from the clouds, I noticed that the person walking in front of me was holding a camera, gazing around. He seemed to be looking for a photo to take. Watching him gaze at the blinking billboards, the cars whizzing past, and the dark sky, I thought of the way I view the world.

Just like that person was looking for a photo, I am always looking for a story. Not everything is a story, but I’ve learned that anything can be woven into a story. I am constantly filing away things I see, conversations I have and often these things emerge—months, years later—in some sort of story that I am telling. For example, a few weeks ago I saw this haiku about Donald Trump on a crosswalk button.

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On its own, a haiku isn’t necessarily a story. But when that one haiku is woven into a story about the larger movement, like the other haikus the group #HaikuForYouTO has put up, then it becomes a narrative. It becomes a story that a blogger or journalist like me would tell. But I can only tell the story if I am aware of it in the first place.

When I created this blog, all the way back in Sept. 2013, I made my tagline “The world as I see it.” Although I don’t feature this tagline on my blog anymore, I still think it’s an accurate summary of what I do as a blogger. I  don’t write objectively about the world—I write about the way I view the world. What makes the way I view the world special, in my eyes, is that I am constantly looking for stories to tell. I get my inspiration from all over the place.

My recent post “What would you do if you were stuck in an elevator with Donald Trump?” was inspired by, well, an elevator. You probably wouldn’t automatically come up with that post idea just from riding in an elevator—but if you had previously had an experience where the elevator alarm went off, as I had, and had considered what you would say to Donald Trump, given the opportunity, as I had, the idea for the post may come more naturally.

I consider myself a curious person, so this is where some of my passion for discovering and telling stories comes from. I think it also comes from my parents. My mom is constantly showing me pictures of architecture she finds interesting, or the pretty flowers in the lobby of a building she was in. I find myself taking pictures of buildings I see downtown because I know that they have a story attached to them—and if I can’t find the story online, I can make it up.

Making up stories is something I get from my dad. He is always making up funny, fictional explanations for situations we are in. Traffic stuck on the highway? There must be an ice-cream truck blocking the way, promising to give everyone free ice cream after the accident is resolved. This penchant for creative thinking has influenced my passion for telling fictional stories—because fictional stories are, in my opinion, equally as important as non-fictional ones.

Through blogging, I have the opportunity to tell my own stories, which I love. But through being a journalist, I have a platform to tell other people’s stories and I love that, too. Being in a busy city like Toronto, there is no shortage of stories to tell—as long as we are looking for them.


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Why I’m Happy My Editorial Calendar Failed

I tried to make an editorial calendar in January; I had it all figured out in my planner. On Martin Luther King Junior day, I would write a post based on one of his quotes. On the day of Donald Trump’s Inauguration, I would write about supporting people in these precarious and uncertain times. The next week, I’d write about education and civics. After that, I’d write about freedom of speech and the importance of conversing with people who share different opinions than you.

If none of these posts sound familiar to you, it’s because I didn’t write them. I wrote other posts in January, about being on the right side of history, people’s reactions to Donald Trump, my thoughts about studying journalism in this political climate, and opportunities that arise in life. I’m really happy with the posts I wrote in January. I think it’s funny, though, that my editorial calendar did not work out.

In all other aspects of my life, I use my planner religiously. Some mornings, I really don’t want to go to the gym, but if my planner says “Gym” with a checkbox beside it, I’ll find myself lacing up my running shoes. I get so much satisfaction from crossing things off my ever-growing to-do lists, and I love making new lists, planning out my life in a series of checklists. And yet, I’ve already made it clear that my editorial calendar for January didn’t work. Why?

I think part of the reason is that blogging isn’t like the other things I put down in my planner. My reminder to write a blog post is often written beside a plethora of other tasks: to work on my politics essay, to finish reading chapter seven of my textbook, to take my weekly news quiz for journalism, to read a book, to read the newspaper. Those tasks aren’t terrible, but in fulfilling them I don’t exactly get to be as creative as I wish I could be. So when it comes to the task of writing a blog post, I don’t really see it as a task, the way I would view something I need to do to pass a course; it’s more like a fun thing that I’m passionate about (of course, this isn’t to say that I am not passionate about my school work, because I am. There is, however, a difference in my mind as my blog is completely separate from any other responsibilities).

To me, this distinction is important — it is, perhaps, the key reason why my editorial calendar failed. I don’t see blogging as a rigid, structured task. Although my blog does directly relate to what I want to do in life (to be a journalist) blogging is not my job. And so, I relish the opportunity to be creative, to stare at a blank document on my computer and try to fill it with words. The way I view blogging isn’t compatible with a strict schedule of what I will post and when I will post it.

That doesn’t mean I don’t plan ahead, though. The “Sherinaspeaks” folder on my computer is filled with documents, some containing half-written posts that I’ll polish up, some containing mere dot jots of inspiration. I have lists — in my planner, on my phone, in my head, on sticky notes littering my desk — of posts that I want to write, topics I want to explore, questions I want to delve into. In other words, I have passion for blogging. Beyond aiming to write one post a week, and interacting on the blogosphere on what I aim to be a daily basis, I don’t want to plan out anything else.

Looking back on the calendar I made for January, and the spreadsheet I created in hopes of reconciling the experience with yet another editorial calendar (spoiler alert: I’m not using that one, either) I am kind of glad my calendar failed. Because, although the calendar failed, I didn’t. I still wrote posts I am proud of, and I still made lots of lists of future blog post ideas. From my failed calendar I simply learned that, for this specific blog, for this passion which is not a job, I enjoy being spontaneous and creative with my posts. And who knows? I’m sure someday in my writing career I will need to make an editorial calendar. But until that day comes, you can find me blogging sans calendar.


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Being a Journalism Student in the Age of Trump

It was the day of my journalism orientation, and I was sitting with new friends in an unfamiliar building. Professors spoke, imparting words of wisdom to their new pupils. One professor said something that I immediately jotted down in a notebook, and have thought of often since that day: “Afflict the comfortable.”

Those three words opened my eyes to a purpose of journalism that I hadn’t previously considered: that journalists are watchdogs, reporting on those in power (those who are “comfortable”) in a truthful and accurate manner. This role of journalists has always been a pillar of democracy; and it has become even more crucial in recent years, months, and even days, as Donald Trump campaigned, won the Electoral College, and was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America.

Here are just two recent events that come to mind when I think of journalists and Trump: his refusal to take a question from CNN at his press conference, referring to the network as “fake news”, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments wherein he told reporters what to write and used journalists as “hate objects.”

Trump said that he has a “running war with the media.” I think he has a running war with the truth, and the fact that some journalists and news organizations are calling him out on his lies makes it easy for him to confuse the media and the truth. This has paved the way for his comments about fake news. If Trump disagrees with a story, then it is fake news (and fake news, according to Trump, is a “TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT” — never mind that many people who create fake news do it for the money, not for the sake of targeting anyone).

Journalism is not perfect; but as a journalism student, I’ve learned that good journalists are committed to learning how to improve and accurately cover what is happening. I am inspired by the journalists who are committed to having honest conversations about the profession, about what is working and what isn’t.

On every level, the discussions I have heard about Buzzfeed’s decision to publish the dossier about Trump — from conversations in my journalism classes to conversations I watched unfold between established journalists on Twitter — are fascinating. These discussions point to the willingness of journalists to learn and improve their abilities, while remaining committed to the principle of accuracy.

Being a journalism student in the age of Trump means a lot of good discussions and valuable learning experiences. But it also means preparing for a profession which the President of the United States of America frequently bashes, and one in which the public does not have a great deal of trust.

And yet I know that for myself, and many of my peers, these things do not discourage us: they motivate us to be more committed than ever to our decision to pursue journalism. We are committed to report accurately, to be watchdogs, and to stand up for the truth. The same can be said of the countless working journalists who refuse to back away from the present-day challenges of journalism.

“Thank you very much. Good luck,” Barack Obama said at his final press conference as President. When I read this in the newspaper, it made me tear up, because it really set the stage for what was coming: a time when luck was needed for journalists (journalism has always been a challenging profession. But when the President refuses to take questions from certain outlets, doesn’t even hold a press conference for months after he is elected… it is a different kind of challenge).

Much ado has been made about Obama telling journalists “Good luck”; I want to focus on the former part of his statement. Obama thanked journalists, and I want to thank journalists, too. Thank you for doing what is right, even though it is not always easy. You have a new generation of journalism students who look up to you, and who are eager to join you in afflicting the comfortable, being watchdogs, and most importantly: being journalists.


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One Journal, 366 Days

“Day one of 366.”

This is the first sentence of my 2016 journal. In all honesty, I can’t remember why I decided to start a journal this year. Then again, I didn’t remember that this year was a leap year until I re-read that first sentence, so perhaps my memory in these matters shouldn’t be trusted. I digress…

I’ve been reading through old journal entries a lot recently as my first semester of university — and the year 2016 — come to a close. Up until June, when I graduated from high school, I wrote daily entries. During the summer and my first semester of university, my entries became more spaced out; I wrote one today that was my first in over two weeks. At different points in the year, writing in my journal meant different things to me. Some days it was a place to reflect on what had happened during the day; others, it was a place to outline my dreams for the future.

When I want to relive a day, or remember something that happened, I’ll immediately flip through my journal to find that entry. I love re-reading old entries, because they remind me of the smaller details surrounding big moments in my life. Of course I remember the excitement I felt on the day I was accepted into my first-choice university program; but when I go back to my journal entry from that day, I remember other details, like that I stayed home sick the day before, and that I bought my prom dress the day after.

This year was a really awesome one for me, with lots of exciting moments and milestones. Thinking back about some of those moments, I know I have written emotional journal entries about them. One of my favourite pages in my journal is the day when I got a phone call from the president of my university to inform me that I had been selected as a recipient of a special entrance scholarship. It was the day after prom, but I didn’t write about prom for an entire page because I was so excited about the scholarship. I don’t think I would forget that moment anyways, but having all the details written out makes me positive that I’ll always remember it.

If you don’t have a resolution for 2017, I encourage you to try writing a journal. You don’t have to write every day — though it is cathartic to write daily, and such a treat to be able to look back on specific days of your life. You could write weekly, or whenever you feel like it. The most important thing, in my opinion, is simply that you write. If you’ve never written a journal before, it may seem strange at first; but eventually it’ll feel as natural as typing out a text to a friend (and if it helps, just imagine that’s what you’re doing!).

Soon, day 366 will be here. And even before that day comes, as I begin reflect on 2016, I am so glad I have my journal to help me remember everything that happened this year.

Three Years of SherinaSpeaks

Wait… is today the anniversary of the day I started my blog?!

This was the thought I had as I sat down on my couch, journal in hand, checking the date on my phone so that I would know what to write down in today’s entry. September 19th, I thought; that sounds familiar.

As it would turn out, today is, in fact, my blogging anniversary! Three years ago today, I brainstormed name ideas on a sticky note—sherinasays? Saidbysherina?—and decided on sherinaspeaks. I then set up my blog, wrote my first post, and clicked the button that I have since pressed over one hundred times: publish. When I published that first post, three years ago, I had no clue that, three years later, I would still be writing for this blog. I had no idea that blogging would become such an important part of my life. And I certainly had no idea that people would actually read my posts.

If you’ve read some of my other recent posts, you’ll know that I’m currently in a journalism program. Before the school year started, I worried that I wouldn’t feel like blogging during the year; since I would be writing a lot in my journalism classes. Now that I’m a few weeks in, though, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Being a journalism student has made me want to blog even more, believe it or not. As we begin to learn about writing hard-news stories, my professors have made one thing very clear: in a basic, hard-news story there is no place for the journalist’s opinion.

Yes, there are opinion pieces, and lots of other types of journalism where opinions are important. However, when you’re reporting the simple facts of a situation, your opinion doesn’t matter. Which is fine, if you’re not opinionated. But, in this day and age, with SO many things to have an opinion on (cough, the American election, cough) it’s hard to not want to give your opinion. Or, rather… it’s hard to not give your opinion if you don’t have somewhere else to express it.

Since I started this blog, I’ve written a variety of pieces. I’ve written an article about the aboriginal human rights crisis in Canada; I’ve written about the misconceptions surrounding wicca and witches; I’ve even written about the time I won a chicken. I’ve written inspirational posts about my favourite quotes, and I’ve written about current events. I’ve written lots of things and, in almost all of them, I have, in some way, shape, or form, given my opinion.

A few weeks ago at my journalism program orientation, I was talking to another student about my blog. He said something that I’ve been thinking about a lot: “I feel like to be a blogger, you have to have a certain arrogance.” He elaborated to say that bloggers are essentially saying that their opinions are important and that other people should read them. I knew what he meant, but I wouldn’t describe it as an arrogance: it’s more of a uniqueness.

When I started this blog, I didn’t expect nearly 800 people would want to read my opinions. I did, however, believe that my opinions were valid and important—everyone’s opinions are. Every blogger has their own niche, their own spin that makes their posts worth reading. I think for me, part of this comes from the fact that I’m a young person giving my opinion on current issues; and also from the fact that I’m generally optimistic in my posts. This makes my blog unique; and I think every blogger—and, for that matter, every writer—has their own special combination of traits that make them unique.

Three years ago today, I took a chance on my perceived uniqueness. I chose a name, wrote a post, hit publish; and then I watched as, gradually, other people began to resonate with my posts and opinions. Here’s to three years of the SherinaSpeaks community, and to many, many more. Who knows what the future will hold?

(Although that’s the official end to my post, I just wanted to say a huge thank-you to everyone who has supported me in these past three years. To my family, my friends, my teachers, and other bloggers: you have all helped make this blog what it is, and I am so, so grateful to you. Thank you for believing in me, and in my blog!)

Beginning Again

I often write on this blog about the value of leaving your comfort zone and learning to embrace change. In the past when I’ve written those posts, I’ve drawn on my experiences attending a new high school and overcoming my nerves to become involved in my school community. Recently, I experienced the biggest change in my life: I moved away from home to attend university.

Before I moved, I mentally equated it to the time when I left the high school I had attended to go to a brand new one. I would be starting at a new school where I didn’t know many people. There was a huge difference between these two experiences, though, and it was one that didn’t cross my mind until my move-in day. At my new school, I don’t have my family with me. This has been the hardest part about starting university. The moment my family waved goodbye, I broke down in tears. My life was changing, and I didn’t feel like I could handle it.

It wasn’t only my family who I was saying goodbye to. It was my friends, who were all off on their own post-secondary adventures; and it was my high school, and all of the memories I made there. Throughout the three years I spent at that school, I grew into a person I was, and still am incredibly proud of. I became more confident, a better leader, more passionate about my education, and, most importantly, I was really happy. Moving to a new city made me feel like I was moving away from the person I was in high school: but slowly, as this week has gone on, I’ve felt more and more like the version of myself that I love.

The thing is, though, I’m not in high school anymore—so I’ll never be the exact same person I was there. I saw a quote yesterday that read, “Every next level of your life will demand a different you.” I think those words perfectly sum up my transition to university. Moving to university is the next level in my life, and in order to succeed and be happy I need to learn new things and grow as a person while maintaining my core values.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, when I began attending my new high school I became involved in clubs, councils, and other co-curricular activities. Although I want to focus on my school work in university, I also want to get involved on campus; be it by writing for a student newspaper, or by joining a club or council. Today I attended an involvement fair, and, as I walked around, gathered pamphlets, and talked to upper year students, I felt a wave of familiarity wash over me. This, I thought, is what I love: getting involved, finding out how to make a difference, and how to be a leader.

Aside from the occasional mention in past posts, I don’t think I’ve really talked on this blog about what I’m actually studying in university. I’m in a journalism program, and I’m taking electives in international relations, human rights, politics, and crime. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I love writing. I’m really excited to be studying journalism. This week, as I’ve met other students in my program and heard from professors, my passion for journalism has been reinvigorated. It’s a changing industry, and I’m in a difficult program, but I know I’m ready for it.

In so many ways, university is a new beginning for me. I’m learning to live on my own, I’m living in a new city, and I’m beginning a new area of study. Despite all of these “new” things, there’s something about being here that feels very natural to me. It is, as I’ve alluded to, all of the things I’ve been passionate about in the past, lighting up my eyes all over again. I don’t feel like I’m taking on an entirely new beginning: I feel like I’m beginning again.

In her song “Begin Again”, Taylor Swift sings, “On a Wednesday, in a café, I watched it begin again.” For me, that lyric would go like this: on a Thursday, in my university dorm room, I watched it begin again. And I can’t wait to see what happens next.