Ask Natalie: my mom won't stop calling me to check in


I'm in my first year and I'm from another province. My mother calls me every day. She gets upset if I don't answer. She knows my class schedule and she'll call when she knows I'm not busy. I feel bad but I can't take it! Help a girl out?”

Yeah, that's not fun. Tell her you love talking to her but you find you're missing out on some experiences because you talk so much. Talk up how busy you are and how you would rather talk longer once a week — maybe twice a week if something exciting happened — than take shorter calls everyday. Be honest but phrase it more as a rearrangement rather than a discontinuation of your phone calls.

If push comes of shove and the truth isn't getting you anywhere, make up a study group that meets irregularly. Parents love study groups.

“Dear Natalie,

There's a lot of people in my program that consider themselves better than everyone else. I won't say which program we're in, but it's really frustrating. I have friends in other majors and faculties and I don't think I'm better than them because I have something different on the sheet of paper we all get when we graduate. But it feels hard to say that when I'm surrounded by people within the program. What should I do?”

I think it's clear by now I'm in Arts, but know people in all faculties – even Land and Food Systems. It's a difficult thing to feel disconnected from your peers, especially if you're in a smaller program. But I would advise you not to take this too seriously.

Everyone I know at one point or another has said something like “Well at least I'm not in Engineering so I can have a social life” or “Arts degrees get you jobs at Starbucks and a mountain of debt” or the stupid Sauder snake meme that's gained a following this year. Everyone feels a least a little bit of pride when it comes to their program.

Even within faculties, majors often place themselves above other majors and judge each other for what their major says about them. It's stupid. The whole thing is stupid, but people do it away.

People like what they do and they want to feel like the life choices they've made are the best life choices anyone could have made, even if it's far from the truth. When people are overly defensive when it comes to their program or major it just means that they're not 100 per cent sure about those choices and they want other people to tell them how excellent they are.

But the truth of the matter is, no one’s program is better or worse than anyone else’s. Every single program has pros and cons. Every single major has ups and downs. Arts may have a reputation for being unemployable, but it's also hard to put a Science degree to use if you don't have your Master's.

The STEM programs may shit on the literature classes but I'd like to see any of them get above a 70 per cent on some of the essays Arts kids have to do. Arts kids might turn on the Commerce students because of their reputation, but at least there's some practical application to some of the business classes. And Sauder people might piss off the Kinesiology students, but we all know who would win in a fist fight when Kin gets involved.

What I'm saying is it's a circle. As much of your program is making themselves feel higher than the other programs, those same programs are probably doing the exact same thing.

Don't join in. It's an unhealthy competition we've put ourselves in and the deeper you go, the less chance you have of getting out unscathed. Don't engage in the nonsense, but don't worry about defending the other programs – like you said, we all end up with the same piece of paper.

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