I have questions about...
If you just started (or are about to start) university, it’s easy to feel underprepared or overwhelmed. This is a big change! You might be living away from home for the first time with a lot of newfound independence, as well as cooking and cleaning responsibilities…not to mention going to class, submitting assignments, and taking tests. University can also be an opportunity to “start over”, or figure out who you really are.
If you’re wondering how to best balance your time, or how to adjust and eventually thrive, check out “Transitions: Making the Most of Your Campus Experience.” It covers school, money, mental and sexual health, identity, and relationships. If you’re living very far from home, it even has a section dedicated to homesickness and culture shock.
Whether you’re leaving high school or university, it can be harder to maintain your current friendships when you move away from each other. Here are some tips for keeping them going:
- Keep talking. Though it seems obvious, it can be tougher to keep a friendship going when you don’t speak as often. Group chats can be a great way to stay in touch with lots of people at once – and you can talk about the little things or major life updates there.
- Go somewhere together. Whether it’s a nearby festival or concert, or you plan a trip, new experiences are a great way to keep a friendship going. You’ll be talking throughout the planning stage and you’ll be able to reminisce and share pictures afterwards!
- Visit each other at home. If you and your friend live in different cities, staying over at the other person’s house for a weekend can be a whole new adventure. This option is flexible depending on your budgets – if concert ticket, major attractions, and hotel rooms aren’t within your price range, you can still do things like sightseeing and picnics.
- Do online activities together. Do you play video games? Great! If a few of you have the same console, playing online together can be a lot of fun and a great way to stay in touch. If you and your friends are more into watching Netflix, consider watching a movie or tv show together without having to be in the same room. Mashable discusses some of the available browser extensions to make this possible.
- Establish a fun ritual. Pick a fun tradition that just you and your friend do together at regular intervals. Maybe they come over for dinner and chats every Tuesday, or you make a road trip to see each other every month. Another option is to start writing to one another via snail mail – communicating this way feels a lot more personal!
- Understand that there will be inevitable change. Think about who you were a few years ago. You’ve probably grown a lot since then! It’s important to realize that you and your friend will continue to learn, grow, and change over the coming years, and that this is not a bad thing. Change isn’t always about you and your friend as people – it can be circumstances, too. Maybe one of you ends up with a job that takes you to another country, or financial situations change and someone has to move back in with their parents. Regardless, it’s important to support each other through these changes and realize that though you can’t control these changes, you can control your reaction to them.
- Don’t begrudge them new friends. They’ll make new friends. So will you. You might experience some jealousy when someone else gets to spend more time around someone you care about so deeply. But remember that each friendship is unique, and it is for that reason that it’s impossible for your friend’s relationship with someone else to replace what you two have together.
You’ve likely been in school for your entire life up to this point. If you’re graduating soon, you may have some questions about how to handle what comes next.
How do I know if grad school is right for me? Should I be taking time off?
Some people choose to take a gap year to prevent burnout, since undergrad was tough and to continue on straight through would be too much. Others have found that school is much tougher to go back to once you’ve been out in the “real world” for a bit.
Here are some questions to consider when making your decision:
- What are you looking to gain from experiencing a gap year?
- Is there something you could do during a gap year that would make your grad school application stand out more?
- Are you lacking any skills from your resume that are necessary for the kind of career that you want?
- Do you want the chance to give back to your community or the time to travel?
If you’re concerned about what a future employer might think of you taking a gap year, remember that you just need to be able to show them that you learned something (a new hobby, a skill from a part-time job, or learning something about yourself – they all count!).
(Adapted from HerCampus)
How do I find a job?
The Student Success Centre has some great resources on their website under their Professional Development section, including job search strategies, resume and cover letter help, and interview preparation.
How do I handle moving back in with my parents?
Have a conversation at the beginning – this will go a long way! Discuss things like you would with roommates your age about expectations (division of chores, quiet hours, overnight guests) and boundaries (Is knocking expected of everyone? Are they allowed to open your mail?). You should also discuss conflict resolution methods, expected length of stay, and how you’re pitching in for rent and food. Operating with a framework will help when issues inevitably arise.
Re-decorate your space – you might not be as into your childhood interests anymore, and getting new sheets or changing up your wall hangings might make you feel like more of an adult.
Love life/social life – this doesn’t have to stop just because you’re living with your parents! You’re still allowed to go on dates and hangout with friends. The latter is especially important to prevent feelings of isolation.
How do I pay off student debt?
In Ontario, payments on the provincial portion of your student loan do not start until 6 months after you graduate. However, interest on the federal portion does begin to accumulate during this time. The Government of Canada has more information on how this works, and Workopolis has some tips on how to pay off student loans more quickly.
You may also find it useful to check out The Financial Diet on Youtube. This channel has many useful tips and lessons for anyone who is just beginning to figure out their finances, and even has specific videos aimed at college students.
Grief, or bereavement, is the experience of loss. Though this can typically mean the death of a loved one or pet, people can also experience grief after the loss of a job or relationship, or after a serious health diagnosis.
People experience grief in different ways. This can include shock, anger, sadness, fear, relief, peace, or even a complete lack of feeling (numbness). Often, people find that the intensity of their grief changes with time.
What do I do?
- Stay connected to caring and supportive people (like loved ones, neighbours, coworkers, community groups). Reach out to these people. They may think you want privacy and be afraid of asking how you’re doing. Ask them for support if you need it!
- Give yourself time. Take all the time you need – grief is different for everyone, and there is no one “normal” grieving period.
- Let yourself feel. Grief is a multi-faceted experience. The emotions you feel, whatever they may be, are valid. Letting yourself feel those emotions fully is part of the healing process.
- Holidays and other important days can be very hard. It may be helpful to plan ahead and think about new traditions or celebrations that support healing.
- Take care of your physical health. Be aware of any physical signs of stress or illness, and speak with your doctor if you feel that your grief is affecting your health.
- Consider waiting before making major life decisions. You may feel differently as your feelings of grief lose their intensity, and the changes may add to the stress you’re already experiencing.
(Adapted from the Canadian Mental Health Association)