By Krishna Shetye, September 20 2021—
As the University of Calgary begins its fall transition into in-person learning, students may find it difficult to cope with the apparent normalcy of a face-to-face environment. There is a massive incoming wave of students who are unacquainted with the campus atmosphere. Most third-year students have only had one full semester in person, while second-year students have never experienced in-person university at all.
In times like these, it’s important for students to take care of themselves and their mental health. To prepare for this tough transition and avoid burnout, the Gauntlet has compiled some tips to assist all students.
- It’s ok to not be ok.
No matter how severe the experience, all students have lived through a global pandemic. Any feelings you have are valid and it’s important to respect your own healing process. Whether you feel exhausted or elated, just know that you are not alone.
- Everyone handles stress differently.
As important as it is to respect yourself during this time, it’s just as important to allow people around you to process their emotions. There is no need for you to compare your unique feelings to your peers. You owe nothing and there is no step-by-step guide that you need to follow to come out successful during the transition.
- No need to overcompensate.
Isolation from university was difficult for many students in many different ways. Students who never experienced the university atmosphere were unable to take part in incredible clubs and organizational activities that shape the character of UCalgary. It may be tempting to jump into every in-person activity you see. However, it’s important to pace yourself, and choose your commitments carefully. School will get much more stressful as the months progress and it’s important to not burn yourself out at the expense of your academic standings.
- Enjoy a social buffer period.
Cut yourself some social slack. Many students have not interacted with different people in over a year. It is completely normal to have less social endurance post-isolation. Again, comparing yourself to others will only damage your self perception and it’s important to respect your respective transition into university social life.
- Empathize with your fellow students.
The best way to realize you’re not alone is by discussing your difficulties with your peers. No matter how alone you feel in university, you can find your people just by discussing and relating your struggles. UCalgary has an incredible student body with so many varied interests and stories. Being open-minded will do wonders for those who are struggling because the chances are, the person next to them feels the same way.
- Trust yourself.
You know yourself best. During this transition, it’s important to trust your instincts and maintain your own personal boundaries. While open-mindedness will help you make meaningful connections with fellow students, you should never compromise your own boundaries, like touching and hugging, just to feel a part of the group. This goes both ways — if your peer is visibly uncomfortable with the breach of physical boundaries, respect their preferences.
- Lean in to the fresh start.
In a way, we are all first-years again. Although some have more experience than others with in-person university, returning is a fresh experience for us all and it can be a great opportunity to gain some fantastic perspective.
- Self-care is critical.
Self-care was and continues to be vital as a university student. To ensure you are holding yourself accountable, try to plan your week to include a few activities that will improve your mental and physical health. Never compromise on these standards and continue to support yourself.