Hana's Declassified SLU Survival Guide | St. Lawrence University

Hana's Declassified SLU Survival Guide

Hana Bushara

If you are anything like me and love this place (or want to love this place), I have a few things that you might find useful. Here, are some of my insights into how to maximize your time at this "hidden gem.”

1) Recognize your privilege, and make good use of it!

Be proud of yourself for making it into this institution and joining the Laurentian family, but also be aware of what a privilege it is to be here. Last semester, I would often catch myself complaining about what class to choose for next semester, or what to eat in the dining hall. I would tire over the choices I had. I repeat. I complained about the choices I had. The simple fact that I have the option to choose my classes, what clubs to attend, what food to eat, speaks volumes about what privilege it is to be a part of an institution that gives so much to its students. You are enough and that is why you are here… now put those options to good use and make this community stronger than it already is.

2) You don’t have to be “good” all the time.

As a first-year student, acclimating yourself onto campus can be a daunting task. There are so many new names and faces to become familiar with. With this also comes a common expectation of having to be “good” all the time. I remember the first couple months on campus and being asked “How are you?” and responding promptly with “Good, how are you?” before even actually thinking about the answer. Part of acclimating yourself within a new place is also being aware of yourself and your needs. Start asking yourself how you are doing more often; what things are contributing positively to your well being, and what things should you leave behind? Being a first-year, for many, is the first time away from home, a chance to get to know yourself better. You don’t have to be “good” to grow.

3) Lean into discomfort.

If your situation was anything like mine, my parents were constantly encouraging me to try new things. I must say, though it lacked originality, it was very good advice. I come from the tiny island of Bermuda. It is beautiful and wonderful and I am lucky to call it home, but I also get to call this place my home because I’ve learned to love it. I’ve leaned into a bit of discomfort, taken risks and discovered a different kind of beauty. I had never been hiking before, never had a conversation about intersectionality or sang in a choir. But now I have; I have taken risks and as a result I have gained muscle, knowledge, and friends that are slowly becoming family.

4) Stretch, but not too much... you might pull a muscle. 

I'm not flexible, so my trainer told me to stretch more. He also warned me that over-stretching can be dangerous. Though this is a true story, it is also a metaphor. 

As mentioned before, St. Lawrence offers so many things to do. From woodcarving to cheese tasting, yoga on Wednesday evenings to African Student Union meetings on Tuesdays. Whatever your niche is, St. Lawrence most likely has resources that will cater to it. That being said, make sure not to do too much and not to overstretch. I think it is useful to try different things in the beginning of your college experience, but equally important to recognize which of those activities are actually contributing positively to your development and time at SLU. I did a lot in my first semester, and one of the most invaluable things I learned after an extensive period of reflection, is that saying “this is too much” is okay. Letting things go gives you the opportunity to invest more of your time and yourself into things and people that you are really passionate about. You can only spread yourself so far…You can only stretch so much before it becomes another injury.

5) Go to Java!

I'm including this because I am a music enthusiast and still cannot get over the fact that we are able to attend (almost) weekly concerts with incredible musicians for FREE (well, in the tuition costs). Go to Java and listen to good music.

Do the things you love. For me, writing music and singing is my happy place, and at Java I get to see what I want to be.  Surround yourself with people and put yourself in places that make you happy. I feel bliss at Java. Find your bliss and remember it is SLU that made that possible for you.

I have learned to love SLU. With all its beauty and chaos and long winters, there is something special that comes out of a place like this. I am a first-year student making moves, making mistakes, and being the best Laurentian I can be.