Getting Away from the McGill Bubble

As the date of the first final exams approaches, it is likely you will be reminded of the importance of taking good care of yourself, and told ways to alleviate the stress that comes with the end of the semester. It’s stressful for everyone – in your first year, you often don’t know what to expect, it’s the first time you’ll be taking a university-level exam; in upper years, the material is often increasingly demanding, and more is expected of you. For me, this semester has been particularly heavy on course work, and I’ve found that fitting some free time for yourself in between the studying is beneficial regardless how tight your schedule is, because it really helps you refocus and gives you something to look forward to after hours of doing practice problems.

Since the start of the fall term, I’ve prioritized studying and had to say no to a lot of things. I’ve said no to 3-day trips, which is understandable during midterm season, but I’ve also said no to eating a proper meal, going to sleep at a reasonable hour, and leaving the house to just take a break from the paper I was writing. In October however, I left Montreal for the weekend to visit new environments and spend time with family. I had been looking forward to the trip for several weeks, and it gave me the motivation to finish my work earlier so I wouldn’t have to worry about it while I was away. It felt incredible to get away from the hustle of campus and be able to take things slow without having to rush from class to class.

Granted, leaving for a few days isn’t always possible, but getting away for a couple hours is always an option. Being on campus is nice – the library offers a comfortable place to study any day of the week, professors are accessible, and help is always available should you need any. But, like most universities, it can also have an overwhelming atmosphere and when you’re already stressed, it adds to the pressure. In early November, when things were still very busy, I finally said yes to dinner with a friend at the Old Port. No phones, no haste, no discussions on exams and assignments, but instead, just sharing a meal, talking, and stopping by little stores to window shop and people watch. Needless to say, it was a huge stress reliever.

There are lots of fun experiences to have on campus, new things to learn and people to meet. It becomes a familiar second home for some people. But getting away from it can be a good feeling too if you’re feeling overwhelmed – a hike on Mount Royal, a trip to the Botanical Garden, a stroll at Parc La Fontaine. Take a breather from the McGill bubble if needed, say yes to taking a break if the work takes a toll on your health, and stay safe!

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