In my 9 a.m. lecture on Wednesday, January 2 I surveyed an empty room. Students who had made it seemed unhappy to be there. Even the prof was half an hour late.
This scene points towards something we knew all along: January 2 is just too damn early to start the semester.
If you had your last exam near the end of UBC’s already lengthy exam schedule like me, you only had two weeks to unwind before once again sitting down for your first seminar of the year.
I’m aware that in the workforce, two weeks off is a sizeable and enviable vacation. But for students, the holidays aren’t a luxury — they’re pedagogically beneficial and vital for our collective mental and physical health.
After weeks of preparing for and writing exams, our brains need a break to reflect and process what we’ve learned. Most students are already behind on sleep by the end of November, and that takes time and rest to properly recover from.
That goes for professors, too, many of whom are doubtless balancing countless family commitments on top of preparing coursework for the upcoming semester. And if you’re unfortunate enough to be in your graduating year like me, you probably spent a good chunk of the break job-hunting and preparing for grad school — not exactly a dream vacation.
And consider the dilemma of the international students flying home. Do you shell out hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars to see your family for all of 10 days? Do you skip the holidays and stay in your dorm room because of the prohibitive cost? Do you skip New Year’s festivities with your family and friends to get home early? There’s no winning.
I’m aware that there is probably a very, very good reason for school starting this early. But if we need two more days of school, why not have a shorter exam schedule in the first place? That seems more productive than starting the semester on a Wednesday.
As I sit at my desk, staring out into the frigid abyss, I’m grateful for the education I’m receiving here. But I’m also envious of my friends who had the good sense to take an extra three days to see their loved ones, nurse their New Year’s hangovers and prepare to start the semester on the right foot.