Weeks have sped by since your return to life as a UBC student, memories of the holidays getting foggier by the day…Springing back to life for Term 2 can take some getting used to.
No matter if you currently live in residence or at home, returning to the academic and social environment at university can feel like sailing out to sea once more to battle a formidable marlin (à la The Old Man and the Sea).
Maybe you’re feeling anxious and a little lonely, or not really feeling much in particular. Whatever emotions you’re experiencing—conflicting or amorphous as they may be—are perfectly valid.
Why Term 2 may feel different from Term 1
You’ve finished your first term here, and having gone through it once before, you may have pieced together a picture of what to expect for this term. You might have unveiled a clearer idea of how and where you most effectively study, and which communities you most enjoy being a part of.
But in some ways, things may feel different as you continue through this term.
You may already be feeling the “second term blues,” which can include anything from missing home to doubting what you’re capable of: this time around, you may be feeling a little lonely, a little jaded...a little less excited than you were back in September. I get you.
I found the latter half of my first year more challenging than the first.
Upon reflection, I was able to identify a few possible causes of how I was feeling: it was some combination of the more advanced course material, the more often miserable skies, and the increasingly complex web of responsibilities and shifting relationships—with others and myself—that held me bound.
Talking to profs helped me realize that instructors who teach first-year courses in Term 1 often strive to take time with their material to ease students through the transition to university.
Term 2, then, can feel like going through an accelerator. Courses might feel relatively faster-paced than those you had in Term 1, and you have more responsibility to stay caught up. Even now, in Term 2 of my second year, I’m still learning to recognize signs of burnout (like feeling like I’m living a life of drudgery) and to take care of myself every day, the best way I can.
How to brave the blues
You may have times when you feel like you don’t want to do anything or talk to anyone, and you just want to be alone...sometimes for a combination of reasons, or even for no reason at all. That’s normal. I know the feeling of trying to make it seem like everything’s okay and great when it ≥100% doesn’t feel that way.
Do things that bring you joy, whatever that means to you. Set aside time for yourself, take breaks, and prioritize self-care and mental health.
Check in with yourself the way you would with someone you deeply care about. Ask yourself: Why am I feeling this way? What can I do to cheer myself up?
Give talking it out a shot when you feel up for it. Sharing how you’re feeling with somebody you trust can help you handle what you’re going through—whether that’s feeling homesick, overwhelmed, anxious, lost, stuck, or anything at all—and more confidently say “I recognize myself” when you look at your reflection.
If you’re unmotivated because of your Term 1 grades…
You are more than the column of numbers on your Term 1 transcript; they do not define your worth. I know what it’s like to doubt yourself; maybe you feel like you “peaked” in high school and never will again. Know that life seldom has just one peak; another might be just around the corner, and the way to get there is to keep climbing, trusting in your capabilities, and getting academic help when you need it.
You might worry that you’re in the wrong place, or that the program you had in mind to study isn’t actually what you want after all. You might ask why you still feel like you don’t know what you want to study.
It’s okay to have these feelings.
You might be choosing your major soon, and that can feel like a huge decision—but you aren’t ever alone.
Pursuing something different from what you’d previously envisioned for yourself is perfectly valid. In fact, more than 10 of my friends have switched—or plan on switching—their majors, and some are even looking into transferring into other faculties. It’s normal.
Many students may share similar feelings as you. Hitting up friends or chatting with someone you don't know (and actively taking steps to be even more social) can help you—and those around you—feel less lonely, gain resilience, and share a sense of belonging.
So, no matter how you’re feeling around this time—and no matter why you’re feeling that way—know that you’re not alone. What will help you the most may be up to you to find, but support is here for you so you don’t have to weather these emotions on your own.