Ask Pawan: I don’t want to go back to school

Dear Pawan,

I really don’t want to go back to school. The sun is beautiful and the rain never comes and the ocean feels so good. Plus, school means all the bullshit UBC does to the students (i.e reading break, terrible mental health resources, AMS taking so much money but not doing anything). How do I get excited for school again??

When you’re halfway through summer, you’ll find a few types of people. The first type is those who are living their best lives, soaking up the rays and enjoying the crowded beaches; these folk populate Instagram with their tanned skin and glinting sunglasses and are at their most powerful in these few months. Another type is the ones who have a brand based around layered clothing and thrive in the many colour palettes that exist between “onyx black” and “steel grey.” The summer-lovers are enjoying the sun while it’s high, the autumnal spirits are waiting for Abercrombie to put away its board shorts.

If you’re a summer lover, every day that makes you swelter is one to be remembered and enjoyed. But the truth finds its way into your head, reminding you that, at this point, there’s just about a month left until you’re back in those cold, hard lecture seats. What could you possible do to make August good, when it’s essentially just counting down to your next English class. Here’s my advice to make the good times last, for as long as you can.

Paving paradise

Take stock of what makes summer differ from the school year because, as the song goes, “you don’t know what you got til it’s gone.” When classes come, along with them are hours spent in classrooms or study spaces, poring over textbooks and watching the sun dwindle outside. It almost feels worse that the sun is still bright in September because you can see what you’re missing out on, when you’re trying to find out what enzymes to study for Monday’s microbiology test. Along with being cooped up, you’ll quickly realize your friends are just as caged as you. The time you can coordinate and spend together will become a bit more constricted as you settle into the rhythm that takes you from home to class, with only a Starbucks pitstop on the way. One of the last big losses you’ll feel is that unique freedom of having no homework to do. If you had a job, once you’re off the clock, you don’t worry about it anymore. But with readings, practice tests and revisions galore, letting go of that summer liberty is a hard pill to swallow. But let’s also talk about the good things that come along with the beginning of classes!

The familiar fresh start

You walk into the lecture hall and feel a little reminiscent of the other times you looked around at your class for the first time. People are chatting a bit, some of them have obviously pre-existing relationships, but there’s a few polite conversations that only occur when two people meet for the first time. You sit down, looking expectantly at the front of class, waiting to see the prof you’ve read a dozen reviews of. Thinking back on the syllabus and course description, you can’t help but feel excited to see what all those words translate to in lecture. Professor walks in, sets up their laptop and begins to lecture.

That feeling is something really unique and, in my opinion, one of the best parts of being a student. Reading syllabi and seeing online reviews for a class are great, but the best part is when you’re finally being helped along in understanding what it all means. It’s odd to say that students don’t talk about being students enough, but it’s important to take stock of what you’re learning, sometimes. Whether it’s studying Greek epics or understanding how cancer metastasizes, you remember that you’re learning amazing things that make your brain burst with countless questions that the professor is being paid to weather. There are a lot of satellite issues revolving around being a student, whether that’s AMS governance, UBC’s aversion to transparency or any number of campus events and news that detracts from being a student. Ideally, all of that stuff falls away at the door, leaving you to enjoy your lecture.

Learning for life

My ideal advice column consists of two things: avoiding cliches and sounding like your parents. I’m going to violate both of those by giving you the advice my own mother gave to me, when I asked her this similar question after my first year.

“You’ve got an entire life of summers to enjoy, so take these few years you’re in school and stretch them long.”

I’d add on more words and scenarios and weird analogies, but I think Ask Mom summed it up better than another paragraph ever could. You’ll be spending only a few years on this beautiful campus and there’s always a perpetual temptation to joyride down Marine and take advantage of your youth. But while youth is fleeting, the really cool feeling of learning from a top expert, someone who has committed their life to their field, is something so rare that billions never get to experience it.

– with files from Ask Mom

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