Many students who attend the Castle for the first-year program also find it difficult “returning” to their home institution for the start of second-year. We are continuously working on a number of support systems to help you with your transition to second year.
So what do we have set up to help you with your transition? Here are a couple of programs and resources that are here to support YOU:
Queen’s Community Housing (October/November): First year students at the BISC get priority for on campus housing for their second year of undergraduate studies at Queen’s because they are not able to look for a place in Kingston in person. These houses and apartments are owned by Queen’s University and are within a 5-10 minute walk to campus. For more information refer to the Community Housing website: http://community.housing.queensu.ca/university-owned-rentals/bisc-housing-application/
Academic Plan Selection and Course Registration Sessions (March): These sessions will cover how to choose an academic plan and how to select your courses for second year. These sessions will also give you key dates and deadlines, and advice on how to navigate the self-service student registration system, (SOLUS). Information about your transition to the Queen’s University campus and other opportunities you can have within your undergraduate degree program will also be discussed.
One-On-One Academic Advising (March): This session will allow you to meet with an academic advisor to discuss which academic plan and courses you are interested in pursuing in your second year of undergraduate studies.
BISC Buddy Mentorship Program: Over the summer between your first year at the BISC and your second year at Queen’s you will be invited to a “Welcome to your Second Year at Queen’s” Facebook group – this will be a forum in which you can ask questions to BISC Mentors. The BISC Mentors are a select group of student leaders who attended the BISC in their first year of undergraduate studies and have completed their second year of undergraduate studies at Queen’s University’s Kingston campus. Working closely with the BISC Admission Office at Queen’s and with Student Services at the BISC they will help ease your transition from first year at the BISC to second year on the Kingston campus, by providing support and creating safe social environments to help you integrate into the Queen’s community.
“Welcome to Queen’s” Workshop (September): This workshop is held before orientation begins. It will introduce you to the BISC team at Queen’s, the International Programs Office, Queen’s Faculty, the AMS, and ASUS. You will learn about important resources on campus, key dates and deadlines, and ways that you can get involved with the Queen’s community. You will get to meet your BISC Mentors at this workshop too!
“Welcome to Queen’s” Handbook: This handbook provides you with all the resources available on campus and information about Kingston, along with a section on “Queen’s Speak” (all the Queen’s lingo)
NEWTS Week (September): This orientation week is organized through ASUS for students who are starting their first year of studies on the Queen’s Kingston campus, but not their first year in post-secondary education: BISC students, exchange students, and transfer students. This orientation is meant to teach you Queen’s traditions, show you around campus, help you familiarize yourself with campus resources, and have a lot of FUN!
Our BISC Mentors are here to help you with anything you need and can talk to you about their own experiences transitioning to second year. The following are a couple of concerns that students have had when transitioning to the Queen’s Kingston campus and our suggestions:
1) “It is like you are doing your first year all over again”
Although you are in second year you will need to familiarize yourself with your campus, resources, professors, and meet new students in your faculty. This is a chance for you to embrace a new beginning and take advantage of new opportunities! Not to mention our BISC Mentors will be there to show you the way
2) “Students have already made their friends”
This is a common comment, but you should remember – so have you! These friends that Kingston campus students have made are from their first year of university too. They lived in residence together too and had classes together too. So don’t be afraid to branch out by getting involved in your department, in clubs, or through an on-campus job. Just because you didn’t make friends on the Kingston campus in your first year doesn’t mean that you cannot make them in your second, third, or fourth year. Some of the best friends that I made in my undergrad I met at random times throughout my degree.
3) “People assume you should already know how everything works on the Kingston campus”
Yes, this can be frustrating, but don’t let it get to you. Our faculty and staff on campus cannot keep track of what every student does in their first year of university so be patient and take the time to explain why you need help.
4) “The classes are much bigger and it is a bit intimidating”
When you spend your first year of university in classes of 30 students where you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner with some of your professors a class of 60-100 students can be overwhelming and you may not feel as comfortable approaching your professor. My best advice is to go speak to your professor or teaching assistant – they have office hours for a reason and they love to hear from students – to sit at the front of the class (yes I know nerdy, but it helps!), and not be afraid to introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you, having a friend in class can always make the transition easier.
5) “There are so many clubs and opportunities on campus. I don’t know where I fit in or where to start”
This is something that ALL students encounter at Queen’s, whether you have been to the Castle for your first year or not. There are so many clubs, athletic, and volunteer opportunities that it is very common for students to sign up for everything in September and slowly decide what they really want to be involved in as the year progresses and that is ok! Our best advice to help you transition from being a Queen’s BISC student to a Queen’s Kingston student is to get involved. This link:
will take you to all of the co-curricular opportunities on the Kingston campus.
If you would like to hear about the transition for some students, check out BISC Alumni Julie and James talk about their experience and transition on our BISCtv YouTube Channel -
Despite the challenges of adapting to a new culture and any difficulties you may encounter returning to your home campus, your studies abroad will be some of the best experiences and memories of your life.
Here to help!
Chantal Christine Valkenborg