Hannah's blog posts are written in collaboration with our partners at Yellow House, which is a space and community for Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Colour at Queen's. Thanks to Yellow House for their partnership. Make sure to check out their Instagram to stay current with their events for Queen's QTBIPOC students!
My name is Hannah. I am a multiracial person who grew up in Guelph, Ontario, and a first year BAH student hoping to major in English. When I’m not studying, I like music for its lyricism and melodic majesty, and whimsical films for their wit and cinematography. In high school I romanticised learning with the help of Gilmore Girls, Muji pens, and movie soundtracks that made me feel like Hermione Granger.
When I was twelve, I decided to start a blog (along with every mommy blogger and wide-eyed writing aficionado on the internet). I slogged the whole nine yards by making a “personal brand” and curating a colour scheme so chaotic only a middle schooler could have come up with it. Then I clicked publish. My grandparents’ and my parents’ friends loved it. Later, I switched the blog’s name to something with “letters.” Off I went proclaiming my eternal love for the craft of the epistolary and for pen-palling with my friends down the street to the void that is the Internet.
My first internet writing was chaotic, but words have always been a safe place for me. As a multiracial person who grew up in a predominately white city, articulating my experience as a woman of colour has often best been expressed through writing. I’m passionate about social justice and mental health. Words have helped formulate and expand how I saw and expressed myself within and to the world.
I’ve been thinking about the transition into my first year at Queen’s. There’s something so strange yet thrilling about listening to angsty teen music, cramming in time with your hometown friends, packing all your belongings into Rubbermaid containers, having existential crises over how many socks to pack, running back and forth to Walmart, then slinging your boxes into the back of your mom’s minivan. It feels like a metamorphosis of growing up, the dawn of becoming something like a butterfly emerging from her chrysalis.
I’ve spent a lot of time this summer in the glow of a Google Doc I elaborately titled “Hannah Banana’s Ultimate Queen’s Packing List.” I reminded myself to not forget those essential things – clothing and bedsheets and toothpaste and all that good hygiene stuff. But my metamorphosis hasn’t just been about packing things. This butterfly-to-be is going to need something extra.
What sort of music would I listen to as I drive down the freeway toward Kingston? Would I blast Billy Joel’s Vienna the entire way or switch to 2006 coming of age Taylor Swift anthems? Would my heart need some country ballads or Lizzie McAlpine to sing me asleep on my first night? Whatever it is, I wanted to have it all planned out. (Oh, and I almost forgot to buy a speaker.)
2. Homesickness Remedies
I know I will get homesick. Whether it’s for my dog or for the smell of homemade family recipes in the oven, I know I’ll hit a point in the semester when I really just wish for even the annoying parts of my hometown to materialise before me. What am I going to do when this happens? Do I need to make a box of homesickness remedies filled with the tea we drink at home, or with drawings my little sister made me? Maybe I should schedule some FaceTime calls in advance? I’ll let you know how I get on!
3. Alarm Clock
In my hometown, I always had the chronic difficulty of waking up without a dog jumping on my face first thing in the morning. I needed my dad to blast Parry Gripp obnoxiously through the door or for every light in the general vicinity to be lit. Maybe I need to invest in an alarm clock that I won’t sleepwalk to turn off for first year? Or maybe what I really need is my family, and my dad, around?
4. My Brain Dump Notebook
Since I was one of those twelve-year-olds with really big dreams and no ways to accomplish them, I started writing random eclectic thoughts in a little. I would fill up my little moleskine with things ranging from the boys I liked, the jobs I could one day pursue, and my favourite songs. Although it was just a tiny notebook with the scribbles of a middle schooler, this notebook became a catalyst to help improve my mental health in high school. I still write in it today. A journal/notebook/diary—whatever you want to call it—is a void to spill everything that spins around in my mind. I can use words, doodles, and scribbles to articulate the things that are hard for me to verbalize. It was important that this is on my packing list when I’m going to experience so much of the new in the next few months. If you’re overwhelmed by thoughts and ideas right now, why not try your own brain dump notebook?
Today, I am at Queen’s. I am coming out of my chrysalis and my little butterfly wings are ready to unfurl. The notes I highlighted on my packing list and shared with you here have helped support my mental health. It’s not like I have some magical list that even Dumbledore would envy. They’re just the tools that I know will work for me. They feel right.
And suddenly, I feel like I can take flight.
See you soon!