Issue 45
Feb 2018

CINEC Network

Lily Wang - Luwan Senior High School BC Offshore Program Graduate

Hi friends!! This Lily (Yiwen Wang), a graduate from Luwan High School over two years ago. I’m now in the third year of my Bachelor of Music at Queens University. I am here to talk about my life, mostly academically, here overseas.

I was lucky enough to be accepted by the School of Music, but this is really a challenging new start for me. Language pronunciation might be the biggest challenge for me. So as to sing better in English, I have been trying to put myself into the environment by literally not speaking Chinese any more. My English speaking has in fact improved. That has also been a way for me to build up a “second home” here with people around me. Being the only Chinese student in the entire school, I have so many chances to speak English with my Canadian friends that I don’t even want to go back to speaking Chinese anymore. So don’t feel weird if I you see me next time only speaking English at Luwan. I really want to encourage you to speak as much English as possible at Luwan. It will not only be good for your language exams, but you are also going to become a better English speaker before you know it!

I have really been helped by many of my friends as well as my professors. The first year music theory course, for instance, wasn’t too hard for me as I had some theory background before coming to Queens. But still, the course wasn’t easy at all. Thankfully, my professor ran tutorial sessions and helped us with assignments himself. Other than that, for my other courses, I found that office hours helped as well. It is too bad that I didn't have time to go every time, but I always got concepts clarified whenever I went. I have heard that, in many other departments, it is only teaching assistants (TAs) that run tutorial sessions rather than the professor(s) themselves.

On campus, I have a lot of opportunities to perform and contribute. I love being busy all the time; and I am happy to be busy working on something I like. This past August, I got a chance to go to Herstmonceux Castle, located in England, for a two-week summer drama program. I was interested, but hesitated because it meant I would have to complete all my assignments prior to my trip. Having that in mind, I still chose to do it as this program really attracted me and right now I am pleased that I went because the acting skills that I learned during the rehearsals really applied well to the course Opera Ensemble. I know that most of you likely aren’t going into either the drama or music departments for your post-secondary education, but my point here is really to use your elective credit spaces to try the courses that you are really interested in taking, as chances are you are going to discover a path for your real future.

It is good to be excited about everything at the beginning of the school year, but I always find it hard to persist, especially towards the end of the term. I have been trying to keep myself busy by getting myself involved with many things, and tired myself out as a result. I’m still seeking a good balance of life. The most important reason I chose this major, other than being able to get adequate rest, is that I have passion for it. This kind of positive reminder is definitely the main source of my motivation to keep going. It’s nice to be excited and willing to do everything, but don’t ever stress yourselves out because you have given yourselves too much to do.

Okay, it is probably time to end this now. It would really take a little book for me to talk about everything. Good luck with the final month of your semester!!! Again, it’s probably hard to keep going but, you guys got it!!!!

Lindy Zhu - Luwan Senior High School BC Offshore Program Graduate

Hello, everyone! I am Kexin (Lindy) Zhu. Currently, I study psychology and mental health at the University of Toronto in Scarborough campus (UTSC). I plan to specialize in the mental health coop program next year. I’m very excited to share my university life with you guys. In this article, I will talk about two things, the way to choose courses and some university’s resources which can help you to study better.

Usually, enrolment for the following fall term courses happens during summer time. For example, if you are registered for the fall term in 2018, you need to choose courses in advance in June, July or August. Generally, the calendar on a university’s official website can tell you both required courses and elective courses for your major. Sometimes, it also includes the required GPA for first year students. A lot of you guys may be curious about whether there are some easy courses, also known as “water courses” in mandarin to boost up the GPA. According to my experience, some upper year students are willing to share their experience with you. However, it’s very important to notice that even in the same course, the course materials and the levels of exams will change because of students’ feedback in the previous year. I chose a water course called Introduction to Media Studies. It’s been a famous easy course in my campus for years. Unfortunately, last year, a student wrote to the professor that the course was too easy and he or she learned nothing. After that, the course has become more difficult this year. The next question is whether U of T is as hard as everyone says it is. According to U of T official statistics, despite the fact that approximately 30% of U of T students had an average of 95% or higher out of their top four grade 12 courses, the average grade for first-year courses at U of T is 68%. Obviously, the workload in university is much harder than in high school. Besides, evaluation is also stricter. One of my professors said that doing ok is just a C in university. In order to get an A, your work needs to be really excellent. However, it doesn’t mean that we are going to die at U of T.

The university definitely provides some useful services. The most well-known one is the writing centre. The instructors there can help students to revise their compositions from a variety of perspectives, including citation, grammar and flow, outline and so on. More importantly, the English Language Development Centre (ELDC) offers special programs. For example, in September, I attended a seven-week program called Reading and Writing Excellence (RWE). In the program, I was required to read academic texts for at least 40 minutes a day and then spend 20 minutes writing a journal by using critical thinking. An instructor in the program provided some feedback three times a week. Besides, the instructor and I had a one-on-one meeting every two weeks. The program really helped me to adapt to university writing at the beginning of the term. In addition, the fee for the RWE program is free since it’s included in my expensive tuition. The manager of the program said that students should attend this kind of program, otherwise they are paying for others to have a better grade. I agree with her. She is completely right.

I would like to say that my university life is bittersweet. The above is just my own experience and suggestions. To be honest, the best way to figure out what university life looks like is to experience it by yourself.