Midterm stress, wearing sweats, wanting to take naps… How do you remember your transition from high school to university? First-year students Anxhela Adhamidis, Karissa Singh and Parnika Celly are sharing their own experiences in weekly blogs for the utmONE program, which seeks to ease first-years’ transition to university.

“[It’s a] platform that allows students to realize that their experiences are valid and to normalize some of that anxiety of the struggle to come to university. It helps students see they are not alone in those struggles,” says Jackie Goodman, first-year transition and academic support coordinator.

Over the summer, utmONE sent out emails to all first-year students enrolled in the programs looking for bloggers.

“I was going to Mexico, and the deadline was when I was in Mexico, and I was like, ‘I’m not going to do it.’ Then, when I came back, I saw that the deadline was extended. I thought, ‘This is probably a sign I should apply for it,’ ” says Singh.

Celly says she didn’t expect to be chosen because she didn’t have blogging experience. “The great thing about blogging is I never would have thought to put so much of my writing out there for the public,” she says. “It’s a way to document my transition for myself, getting over that fear of putting yourself out there.”

Singh said writing the blog helped her transition to university. “During midterms, it was a lot to handle—the stress was a lot different. Writing about ways to de-stress actually helped me de-stress,” she says.

For Celly, the quest for something to write about led her to try new things she wouldn’t have considered otherwise.

Adhamidis says writing the blog makes her more aware of things. “Constantly trying to find something to write about, I’m thinking about things more often,” she says. “Trying to figure out what to do, how to try new things out. New things other people can also try. Also thinking about how other people feel makes me feel more connected to them.”

Adhamidis says her favourite place on campus is IB. “All my classes are there, the view’s beautiful, and Starbucks is nearby. Love coffee,” she says. Singh prefers Deerfield because it’s quiet enough to study in, and Celly is happy just to watch the deer outside.

What do the bloggers like to do when they’re not studying or blogging? “Skyping with friends who are at other universities,” says Singh.

“I like art of all forms, so drawing and singing to myself,” adds Celly.

“Sleep,” Adhamidis says. “Kidding. I’m a huge soccer fan, so I watch that. Also, Sons of Anarchy has completely dominated my life right now.”

All three bloggers said they hoped to connect with their audience and get more followers. “It’s not just for first-year students,” says Goodman.

Students can sign up to receive the posts every week by writing to utmone@utoronto.ca, or visit the blogs themselves at parnikac.wordpress.com, anxhelaa.wordpress.com, and karissas2014.wordpress.com.

The blog feature was added to the utmONE program in the 2013/14 academic year.

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