While every experience of an incoming, first-time university student is a little different, there are a number of fears, anticipations, and experiences universal to most first years. On Aug. 25, I interviewed first-year VIU student Heather Langlois. I had never met eighteen-year-old Heather prior to our conversation and had no knowledge of her goals and expectations. I was pleased to meet a well-spoken, intelligent graduate of Wellington High School and Nanaimo Learn@Home, who eagerly anticipates the triumphs and challenges of post-secondary education.
Kaitlyn: Why did you choose to attend VIU? Heather: It would be more affordable, for one, without the residence fees, and I can live with my parents which helps a lot. It’s a space and a town that I’m familiar with—Nanaimo is really nice, too. I’ve talked to some of the advisers [at VIU] and I can start my courses there pretty easily, so it’s the best option.
K: Do you know what area of study you would like to focus in?
H: Bachelor’s of science, leading to Veterinary Studies. I’ve always wanted to be a vet and it’s looking like I might be able to because I’ve done pretty well in my science courses always—I’ve always been good at math.
K: Does VIU have a program for Veterinary Studies, or are you going to have to transfer elsewhere?
H: I will be able to do my first two years there, but then transfer to another [university]. I think the UVic has courses for it.
K: Is that the only school around or are you considering a few different ones?
H: I think that’s the closest one and if I finish the complete bachelor’s of science there then [I can] narrow it down to the veterinary. Then I transfer to the University of Saskatchewan, hopefully. Possibly Prince Edward Island.
K: Do you think that Learn@Home and Wellington have prepared you for going to university? Or do you find that you’ve had to do the figuring out yourself?
H: With Learn@Home I think it’s a lot of figuring it out yourself. It’s kind of by the book and just notes, lab, test, each time and sometimes a worksheet or two. Straightforward like that and yet it’s still strict with how you do a lot of things. I think Wellington prepared us really well. The teachers are nice and they know what they need to teach the kids [for going to university] and are usually caring and thoughtful.
K: What did you want to be when you were a kid? Did you want to be a veterinarian?
H: I think so. As far as I can remember I’ve always loved animals and wanted to help them. I hate seeing them in pain and I wanted to do anything I could to make it go away and help them somehow. I remember my mum and I always walking around town and I’d see a dog and I’d always ask what it’s name is and ask to pet it and I used to have this little notebook of all the dogs that I met and saw walking and I’d write their names down. I don’t do that anymore! I did that up until I was nine, maybe.
K: Is there anything in veterinary school that you’re a little concerned about doing?
H: I think the needles and sedation for animals. And especially euthanizing. Very nervous about that, but I’ve heard that you eventually kind of get used to it and desensitize yourself to it and learn that it’s for the better for them. I’ve volunteered for a vet hospital during high school and I talked a lot with them. There’s some of the stuff I’ve been really nervous and felt like oh my god maybe I can’t do that, but I really want to try and at least get my bachelor’s of science. If I can do something else, even just working as a small vet at a zoo or something. I’ve just always wanted to work with animals and be able to help them.
K: Do you picture working mostly with cats and dogs or do you picture working with other exotic animals as well?
H: I kind of want to work with horses too. And cows and kind of the big animal vet too, but that’s mostly in Newfoundland; the eastern provinces I believe. It’s higher demand there and in the west it’s more for small animals. At least in B.C. I’m kind of excited and nervous
K: Are you taking any other electives outside the science program?
H: Once I finish [the science courses], I would like to. Yeah, for the first year I’m just taking the three science courses: biology, chemistry, physics. And math. And then English in the summer and then the next year leave it to a lot of biology and some math and maybe chemistry. Physics is only in the first year. And then once there’s some room for electives then I’d squeeze those in. What ones I’m not sure yet. Possibly some arts.
K: How did visiting the VIU bookstore for the first time feel?
H: Kind of overwhelming. I wasn’t too surprised. I knew there would be a lot of books and they would be expensive. There would be a lot of variations for all the courses. It was still slightly overwhelming. It was nice that it was pretty quiet and not too crowded when I went. It was before Aug. so there weren’t many people there yet. I wrote down all of my information: the courses that I had, prices of the textbooks, titles, editions, and everything. Then I went with my boyfriend—it was really overwhelming for him.
K: Was the [price] damage really bad for three sciences and math?
H: Yeah, but I got two of my science textbooks and one math from a friend, used. Then I might try and get a used biology [textbook] online so at least then I can avoid the bookstore prices.
K: How else are you preparing for starting university?
H: I’ve done the summer warm-up sessions. Those were interesting and I went and got my student card before that and some of my other things.
K: What is the summer warm-up session?
That’s different from student orientation?
H: Yup, I’m signed up for that too. You get your student card and your gym membership if you want it. Dining dollars.They show you around campus and you can sign up for the health and dental plan and get your bus pass.
K: Did you find that everything was explained fairly well—what you had to do for starting courses.
H: I think so, and I’m on the wait-list for one of them, for chemistry and I’m number one.
K: Yeah, you’ll get in.
H: That’s what I’ve heard from everybody.
K: Have you found it easy to navigate the campus?
H: Slightly. I started to get the hang of how it’s like the higher you go the higher the number of the buildings. It’s like stories in a building. I think most of mine are on the top level, or at least the 300s for sciences.
K: Do you find that a lot of your classmates are going to VIU as well?
H: Yeah, especially my main friends and boyfriend. There are a lot of us that are going to VIU, and then some to UBC and UVic.
K: Is there anything that you think you haven’t been prepared for [for going to school]?
H: [At VIU] they don’t have as big of classes as some other universities, but when I get to bigger universities that might be one thing that will be a shock to me, or a big change and I think just how it’s much more strict—disciplinary for all the course requirements and studying practices.
K: So what does a university education mean to you?
H: Kind of moving up and developing my knowledge, experiencing new things. Meeting a lot of new people. Just building confidence, too. And building credentials and prosperity—a better future.