Ask Natalie: group work and language requirement woes

“Dear Natalie,

I'm taking summer courses and I'm having a problem with group work. I'm finding that no one else really wants to meet up to just do our work. Everyone's late and no one wants to put in the work. I know group work has a bad reputation, but this is like a whole new level. Help?”

Oh man, nope. Sorry, but no. This isn't something I can help with. Group work sucks during the regular term, but it should be downright outlawed for the summer term.

If you're only taking summer courses and you're not working a good number of hours, you don't really understand how stressful summer courses can be. I've only taken one summer course before and it was while I was working over 50 hours a week. Yeah, that decision was on me, but group work was the last thing on my mind. I sure wasn't going to book time off work so I could sit in a cafe for two hours deciding who writes what.

Sure, everyone “should” put in more time, but a lot of people have to work during the summer and internships happen a lot during the summer term.

Even if they aren't working full time — a lot of the time during the summer term — everyone has something better to do than group work.

I know it's shitty and it seems like you got the short end of the stick, but if you've talked to them and tried your best, just move it to a Google Doc and move on.

Group work sucks in the best of circumstances and the summer term is far from the best.

“Dear Natalie,

Is there any way to get out of the language requirements. I'm really bad at languages.”

Short answer: no. Long answer: not that I'm aware. I'm not your academic advisor so nothing I say can be taken point blank so talk to your advisor to see what you can do.

There have been rumours that if you fail three intro level language classes, they'll waive the requirement for you, but then you'll have three failing marks on your transcript. I've heard of people learning just what they need to pass a proficiency test. I've heard of a number of other ways that people have gotten out of it, but never from someone I know directly. I know of people working through that last French class in huge groups. I know of people taking the “easy” languages for two years or even in one if they stayed on for the summer term.

I know it sucks and I think anyone who knows me knows how much I hate that particular requirement, but for now at least we're stuck with it.

“Dear Natalie,

Is it cool to quit work and go to Europe for the summer?”

I'm neither your mom nor your bank account so yeah, totally.

“My boyfriend works a lot during the summer, enough that he doesn't work during the school year, but during these four months I feel completely abandoned. I understand being busy with work — I work too! But what I don't understand is how someone can be happy with not seeing their girlfriend in two weeks even though they live in the same city because of work.”

That's rough. I understand needing to work as much as possible during the summer term and working enough to not have to work during the school year would be stressful. I know it sucks, but try to understand.

Talk to him and see if you could join him for some of the things he does normally to de-stress. Can you help him cook dinner once a week? Can you join him for his workouts or sport games? Can you plan a movie night or watch a show together once or twice a week?

Working is stressful but you can make time to see your partner. Communicate with him. Explain that you miss him and you don't want him to stop working, but try to work with you to make sure you see each other.

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