Off to University: A Sparkler's New College Series!

Off to University: A Sparkler's New College Series!

By Contributor

LadyM is back with a brand-new series about her college adventures! GET EXCITED.—Sparkitors

Hello Sparklers, and welcome to Megann: The Sequel. You might remember me from the spring, as the SparkLife authority on all things study abroad-related, or as that farm kid who loves horses but hates chickens. Now I'm heading off to university, and planning on documenting the entire thing for your voyeuristic pleasure.

I'm moving 1,200 miles across the country to beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia on Canada's Atlantic coast. And I couldn't be more excited—on the surface, this program is exactly what I'm looking for, and more. I turned down a gorgeous scholarship (at, believe it or not, the urging of my parents to follow my dream school and not the money) and a campus in a castle in England for this school (Hogwarts!). So, what is more special than my childhood dream of going to school with Harry Potter?

I'll tell you—it's the University of King's Halifax's Foundation Year Program. It's an interdisciplinary program that covers everything I'm passionate about—epistemology, English, history, philosophy, and sociology. Basically, we read some of the most texts written since the start of recorded history. 44 of them.  It's a small school (populaion: 1,200)with a tight knit community and loads of tradition, but because of a strong affiliation with the bigger school Dalhousie (population: 16,000) students get everything that large schools can offer. To quote a second year, "Nothing really can prepare you for the way FYP is going to stretch your brain and transform the way you approach school for the rest of your life."

The brain stretching process begins in September, but until then, there is a lot to do. I keep meaning to get a head start on the reading list. But, I keep getting distracted by my television. First it was Six Feet Under—you can't call yourself a fan of television if you haven't seen this masterpiece. Then it was Battlestar Galactica, a holy grail of space operas. Then it was Mad Men, which, although the writing is top notch, ieft me feeling pretty depressed about the human condition. Now my sister has bought the True Blood box sets... and although I struggle to find good things to say about, I can't stop watching. It's embarrassing. But I'm going to start reading as soon as that's finished. Really. If I can fit it in between episodes of Veronica Mars. I'm planning to minor in Film Studies...does this count as studying?

There is a definite skill to deftly navigating the famjam. Things are weird... all of a sudden, the people who I've lived with for the better part of 18 years have become superawk. Our time as a family under one roof has become very finite, so we're tiptoeing around trying to figure out where that leaves us. The parental units a little nostalgic, and are starting to reflect on their "failures" as parents. For me, this means extra chores. For them, it's saying goodbye to the firstborn. Like I said, it's WEIRD.

Of course, I am working in as much quality family time as possible, as long as family time involves shopping. We have a tentative financial system worked out. All tuition and living fees will be put into a bank account for me each year, along with a little something extra because my parents love me. I will be responsible for making sure things get paid for. This is an attempt to help me develop "real world skills," and beyond this account, I will no longer be receiving money whenever I want it. Don't get me wrong—I am not complaining. They're being so generous, and I'm lucky they can do that for me. But, before it happens, I plan to capitalize on the contents of my parents' bank account and help preserve the contents of my own. This means lots of new clothes, and is very exciting. Especially the blue sailor dress I got for my new Maritime home. I kid you not, and I promise, it's cuter than it sounds.

Remember that bank account I mentioned in the last paragraph? As it stands right now, my parents aren't going to deduct scholarship money from the total. This is a whole new incentive for me to rake in major scholarship money. Unfortunately, this is an awkward time for scholarships. Apparently August is between deadlines. That combined with a lack of real financial need and the fact that I do not belong to any visible (or invisible) minorities meant that hours of aggressively pursuing scholarship opportunities got me a lot of "check back in the fall"s. If any of you know about great scholarships for boring people, do tell.

So far, my roommate remains largely a mystery. We've chatted a little and she seems lovely... but I still don't know her name. The school told me it was Georgina, but when I talked to her on the phone, I thought she said she was "Susan." BUT her Facebook name is Chizz... so now I'm thinking she's actually Chisom, but can't be 100% sure that's her real name. Never fear, I have a plan. When I meet her, I'm going to have my dad cut in and say, "Hi, I'm Megann's dad, Chris." And then she will say, "Hi, I'm Megann's roommate, _______." Failproof, right?

And, most excitingly, I just made my travel plans! At first I thought we would drive, but then I realized that 20+ hours is a lot of hours to be in a car. So, despite a slight phobia of making phone calls, I put on my snobbish phone voice and booked a plane, a hotel, and a car rental for my dad and me. We're going to spend a little bit of time touring the city—has anybody ever been to Halifax? Any must-sees?

Which, Sparklers, leaves me here, desperate for your advice on economical packing. I overpack chronically. I'm going to buy most things when I get there due to my father's inexplicable aversion to paying $500 for overweight baggage. But I still need to transport 44 books and all of that clothing that I've been buying with the parents' money.

So. Advice? What should I leave behind?

Take it away, college-packing experts! We know you're out there!

Related post: A Word of Advice to the College Bound

Topics: canada, college, family, scholarships, tuition, university, summer reading, new beginnings, leaving for college

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