To top it all off, it’s probably the very first time you move out on your own, or are at least much more removed from home than you’re used to.
In the first few weeks, it’s common to just want to retreat into a shell. Although, certainly, it’s a time of excitement, it’s also a pretty stressful time before the big jump up becomes just another routine (and then come finals).
Enter Miryam Bassett, a freshman cross country runner from Nanaimo, who during her high school career, won various cross country and track and field championships. Now, she resides in residence where she is making the tough transition from high schooler to university student.
However, for the most part, she is excited by the experience rather than scared: “First of all, it was really intimidating but it’s also kind of exciting. I’ve only been here for two days but it’s gotten really exciting pretty fast and I’ve already gotten kind of used to it, [for example] living here.”
Discussing her first classes, Bassett explains, “The [class] size is intimidating. The first class was a bit more intimidating than the second one, but I found it interesting. It’s cool in university because you get to choose what you want to do whereas in high school, other than choosing math or sciences, there is a lot more specific things you can choose.
“I got to choose what I was more interested in than in high school, so I feel I’ll like university, academically, a lot more.”
Although the prospect of moving away from home is intimidating to some, Bassett enjoys the freedom. “So far it’s definitely been exciting and it’s cool having your own little space that you can be in charge of. It was a little stressful to begin, but I look at it now and it’s a fun sort of atmosphere. You get used to it quickly.”
Perhaps it helps that her sister, Rebecca, who is a year older and headed into her sophomore year, is also an athlete and around to help her through the trials of university life. “My sister’s on my team, so I’ve been introduced to a lot of her friends [. . . and] I’ve had someone telling me positive things about the university, someone, like a family member I can always go to if I need any help or have any questions who I know will always be there to help me out.
“It’s definitely nice having a sister here,” she added.
She did, however, allude to the stressful application process, pinpointing the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). SFU, as an NCAA school in Canada, has to play by NCAA or American rules, which require the use of an SAT to decide if a student merits admission to university. For Canadian universities, this is usually unnecessary but SFU’s NCAA status adds this challenge.
“It was sort of stressful with the whole NCAA thing, making me do a SAT and stuff like that,” Bassett explained. “The SAT is very different from school in Canada; you can tell it’s very American. The test was very hard, [though] it wasn’t difficult as in hard to write [but] it was hard because it was long. Personally, I didn’t think it was the best.”
Bassett mentioned that she chose SFU over some American schools for a better education: “I had a few other universities come talk to me, the ones that I was considering the most were in the States. I chose SFU because first off, the academics are a lot better — for me, they had what I wanted.
“It wasn’t all academic,” she added, praising SFU’s cross country program. “The athletics were more like what I wanted; they have a really good program, especially on the girls’ side for 850m.”
With the school year starting, Bassett has to focus on her academics in addition to athletics, as she works toward a kinesiology degree in hopes of becoming a physiotherapist. She observed, “They say a lot that you’re student athletes, and student comes first so what I really want to do is keep on top of school while also keeping up my athletics. The thing is if you don’t do well in school, you can’t compete.”
As for the transition from from high school to university athletics, Bassett noted the faster, more intense pace of the NCAA, a feeling most students can relate to when they first come to university, with greater workloads and more trying schedules.
However, just as the athlete adjusts to higher pace, so does the student adapt to their new surroundings.