Making the winter term work for you

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A photo of the Academic Greens. The residence towers and the library building are visible in the distance.
It is ironic that a place that is green hardly three months a year is called the Greens. lee lim

Being on top of things can give you an edge

As another winter semester unfolds at the University of Regina, students, no matter their age or familiarity with the University of Regina, find themselves once again working to make time for all their responsibilities.  

New classes and class schedules, meaning navigating changes to routine, and attempting to strike that balance between academics, work, and self-care. Juggling these aspects can be challenging, making this semester’s winter term Reading Week a highly anticipated, and welcomed, break.  

Set to take place in mid-February, it offers students a crucial pause necessary to combat student burnout and stress during their academic journeys. Here are some tips on how to make this term’s Reading Week a productive and fruitful one. 

The first suggestion would be to stay bundled up for the winter. Lately, as the current cold warning persists with temperatures plummeting to -30 C feeling more like -48 C, prioritize staying warm. It would be a good idea to invest in insulated clothing, layer up, and not forget your beanies and gloves whenever you are heading out. The biting cold can be unforgiving, so staying warm is a wise idea. 

Next would be using the winter break week as an opportunity to reflect on your performance in the first half of the semester. It’s the right time to identify areas that need improvement, catch up on readings, and prepare any questions that you may have for your professors. This way you can approach the second half of the semester with a clear plan and purpose.  

It is not uncommon for students to find themselves feeling disconnected from their instructors, whether it be because of differences in teaching style, lack of engagement, or other factors. Take that initiative during the reading week to dive headlong into identifying and addressing any communication gaps. Reach out to your professors, seek clarification on assignments, or simply express your commitment to academic success. 

As you sit in the comfort of your homes or in your dorm during Reading Week, consider delving into a comprehensive review of your classes and coursework. Organize your notes, revisit key concepts, and ensure that you are up to date with the material covered so far. Create a personalized study plan and revisit course material at increasing intervals over time instead of cramming to remember information at the last minute. 

Another tip would be to stay mindful of class registration. The end of the 100 per cent refund and a no-record drop period for the Winter 2024 term is Jan. 19. The end of the 50 per cent tuition fee refund is Feb. 2, while the end of the grade of W drop date is Mar. 15. Staying informed about these dates is crucial to making well-informed decisions regarding one’s academic commitments. 

During Reading Week, you can also try to diversify your study environment. Break the monotony of your usual study spot. Explore different environments such as the library, a cozy café, or even a local park. A change of scenery can stimulate your mind and enhance your focus and vision.  

Excalipurr Cat Café, located in downtown Regina, is my go-to spot. It’s not just a place for the feline companions awaiting adoption to find their forever homes, but it’s also a cozy spot for you to relax, grab a coffee, and hang out with adorable cats. 

Moreover, it is also important to schedule some downtime for yourself. Planning for some self-care during the break is equally crucial to help prevent burnout and exhaustion.  

Plan some time for yourself; whether that’s spending time alone, with your friends, or with your pet. Sometimes this also means having the courage to say no to activities and engagements that do not align with your priorities or that add unnecessary stress to your life.  

Some tried and true methods for many include walking, having a candle-lit bath, listening to music, or creating art of all kinds. Adult colouring books exist for a reason! Or maybe you are someone who likes the outdoors and wants to try going on a walk without their phone.  

Whether it’s through exercise, meditation, or simply taking time off to do things you love, make sure to dedicate time to yourself. The point is to try and focus on the present moment. Focusing on the present increases your mindfulness, uplifts your mood, and reduces anxiety and stress. 

Another important tip that can be overlooked is prioritizing a good quality sleep. Throughout the term, students find themselves caught in a whirlwind of assignments, work commitments, revision, and perhaps even volunteer activities.  

The endless demands of academic and extracurricular responsibilities can lead to sleep deprivation, impacting one’s physical and mental well-being. Reading Week is the perfect time to reinforce healthy sleeping habits if you aren’t already. 

Consider dedicating some time during Reading Week to volunteer or engage in community service. Many non-profit organizations offer virtual and local opportunities for giving back. Contributing to a cause you are passionate about can provide a sense of fulfillment and strengthen your connection to the community. 

Another golden tip would be to take a moment to express gratitude. Reflect on the positive aspects of your academic journey, acknowledge your achievements, and appreciate the support systems around you. Cultivating a mindset of gratitude will leave you better prepared to face challenges that await you personally, academically, and professionally. 

As always, Reading Week offers the perfect opportunity for a student to get their life in order and to rest and recuperate however works best for them. Balancing the demands of coursework, work responsibilities, and personal well-being can be daunting, so be sure to take full advantage of the break in February.  

The Carillon wishes all students a successful semester filled with growth, achievements, and a sense of fulfillment. 

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