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Don’t sweat the small stuff: new semester, old stress

I’ve survived five long years at UFV to date, and there are some things that hold true no matter what path I find myself on.



By Dessa Bayrock (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: September 4, 2013

September is part of a magical season.

The weather finally cools down to a bearable level, and rain falls upon the parched land. The leaves change their hues to fiery colours, and carefree, well-tanned young people transform overnight into stressed and wild-eyed students with too much homework and not enough sleep.

This year (like most years) Labour Day still had a summery feel to it.

“So this is September?” we said to each other, pleasantly surprised at how similar it felt to August.

But after Labour Day, the first day of school arrives – cracking its knuckles and gearing up to kick ass and take names.

As soon as the clock strikes eight, students flood onto campus like a huge synchronized swimming team badly in need of practice. The members of the crowd range from the cluelessly terrified first-year (“Where is G building?” they ask each other, urgently. “What is Books2Go??”) to the veteran fifth-years (“I think I just saw a 12-year-old,” they growl.)

There are some nice things about the start of semester (clean, unfilled notebooks, new pens, classes you aren’t sick of yet) but also the parts that everyone tries to forget about over the summer semester – the price of textbooks, for example, or just how much professors like to rely on group work.

Soon enough this semester starts to look like all other semesters – a mix of good and bad, a shade of gray hovering diplomatically between the two poles. Notebooks fill up, pens are lost, textbooks rapidly degrade in value.

It’s at this point in the semester that each student makes a choice; will this be the semester that splits off in a new direction, to include study habits and vegetables? Or will this semester end like so many others in a downward spiral of fast food, sleep deprivation, and missed reading? Perhaps you will become the envy of all and find a happy medium between the two.

I’ve survived five long years at UFV to date, and there are some things that hold true no matter what path I find myself on:

All-nighters don’t work. Get yourself to bed at some point, even if it’s just for an hour. After a point (be it after 21 hours awake or after a certain number of coffees), brains just shut down. Don’t fight it. You’re not doing yourself any favours by yawning in front of the laptop and trying to remember what word you wanted to put next in the sentence. If you can average six hours of sleep a night, you’ll thank me.

Go for a salad instead of the fries. It might not be as greasily delicious, but your body will thank you later by not feeling nauseated.

D115 sounds like it has snakes in the roof. Don’t let it freak you out. It’s the air conditioning or something.

Finally (to repeat advice I gave first-years in our orientation issue), the most cost-effective meal on campus is a bagel from the Tim Horton’s in the library building. You will probably find yourself eating a lot of bagels. Word to the wise: at the end of the day, the selection dwindles rapidly, but herb and garlic cream cheese on a blueberry bagel is surprisingly good.

Most importantly, don’t sweat the small stuff. A year from now, what are you going to remember? How much you hate group work, or how much you love opening a package of new pens?

In the same way your memory omits the nasty bits of the year as soon as you step into summer sunlight, the stuff that makes you tear your hair out this semester will be forgotten as soon as you finish your last exam and fall into bed for a much-needed nap over Christmas break.

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