Starting university is, without a doubt, one of the more exciting times in your life. Whether moving away from home and experiencing living with others, or travelling daily to a campus and living at home, either brings about huge changes from the High School student you were just a few months ago.

University is the place for you to explore your interests, discover new likes and dislikes and make a whole new circle of friends! There are so many opportunities for you to take part, and it is up to you to be curious and to seek out those opportunities. As I say this, I also know that there is another element to the university experience and that is anxiety or hesitation around new beginnings. You don’t yet know everyone, the classes are huge and you are afraid of taking on too much and not keeping up. It’s a lot to handle — especially if you are feeling alone.

This is exactly where Hillel and Hillel staff come in. As a Hillel professional, my door is always open to you and my phone number always available to you to talk, help manage your time, or help with other issues that have you worried. At Hillel, we provide you with a community for you to get to know, to feel part of something, and to help you feel a little less alone as you navigate your way through university.

Being involved with community is such an integral part of wellbeing, both as a collective and as an individual. It will enrich your lives and the lives of those around you. There are so many events and opportunities available to you based on your interests and your skills. You just have to seek them out! Is there something you are interested in that you don’t see offered on your campus? Go ahead and make it happen! That’s the beauty of university — everything is an option you just have to imagine. We at Hillel are always here to help create and execute your ideas and vision.

My best advice to you as you embark on this new path called university? Try it all! Experience everything Frosh week has to offer and attend as many events as you can! Frosh week is great because everyone is new and trying to find their way — join them and you’ll quickly feel part of something bigger! Most importantly, if your campus has a welcome back Shabbat dinner, make sure to go! It’s a great place to meet others in your community as well as your Hillel professionals! We truly are your home away from home and are excited to meet you!

I know there is often a feeling of wanting to “break away” from the “Jewish bubble” and be part of the greater campus community. These two are not mutually exclusive and try not to treat them as such! You can totally become part of other clubs and make other friends and still remain anchored in some way in your Jewish community. That well-rounded experience will only enrich your time on campus and make it even more rewarding.

I know that at times university feels stressful and it’s hard to know how to juggle it all in order to succeed. Though with time you will see that balancing your workload with social and community involvement will lead to a more successful time as undergraduate student on campus. As you prepare for next year, take a minute and enjoy this time in your life. Forget the stress, the never- ending race to the finish line and simply enjoy where you are. It’s a great place to be!

Gila Cotler,
Director of Guelph Hillel