Healthy Mind

On Semester one, the Christmas break, and getting ready to do it all again

‘May your days be merry and bright’ as the song goes. More like gloomy and sh*te, say some people this time of year. As a student, perhaps you have your exams done by now, or maybe they’re just around the corner after Christmas. Either way, it’s been a long, hard semester.

You started it all fresh and fluffy, now you’ve lines under your eyes that look like someone sculpted them out of clay. The semester started in pristine jeans and nice ironed shirts and tops; now it’s jumpers and tracksuits.

I’m the Welfare Officer in NUI Galway Students’ Union (NUIGSU); and trust me, I feel the same as you do at this point in the semester. Time is a very funny thing when you’re a student; it’s been a jam packed 12 weeks, and it always manages to go by in the blink of an eye, yet every lecture seems to last half the day.

The assignment that was miles in the future is suddenly banging down your door and it’s 3am in the morning and you’re cursing your extraordinary talents of procrastination (sometimes people ask me with working full time for the union do I miss being a student, and I’m not so sure after writing that).

Christmas holidays for me as a student used to be a time of thinking way too much and doing way too little. I suppose, ultimately, it’s a little breather in amongst the madness, and a chance for reinvigoration. Sometimes this is a hard time to feel reinvigorated, what with the dark and cold having their effect on people, but do try and take some time over Christmas to do absolutely nothing.

Spend some time in nature, away from the endless onslaught of social media. Spend time with people you want to be around, maybe to do some soul searching or pick up a hobby you lost a few years back. In NUI Galway, we have our exams before Christmas, and I always used to feel awful for the students who have them in January (still do!).

Either way, even if you have assignments and exams looming, make sure you take time to enjoy the holidays however you can, and congratulate yourself on making it through the semester.

And if you ever find yourself struggling, please remember there are services available that were set up to help. I tell nearly every student who walks into my office that college isn’t a one size fits all model; even though it’s kind of built that way. I’ve said it so much that it’s become the motto I live by.

We all think everyone is on the same path and that everyone is just tipping away on the journey, but fact of the matter is sometimes we deviate from the way things have been setup for us, or things don’t go as planned, or disaster strikes, or we realise we need to be on a different path.

I think that’s more than okay. I think we should make our own paths. I think we should always challenge the way things are and the way they’ve been set up for us.

Anyway, that’s my little bit of existentialism for the season. May your Christmas be very Merry, and as bright as is possible for Ireland in December, and may you go into next semester feeling somewhat less tired, ready to make all the same mistakes again, even though you swore you wouldn’t (don’t worry, we all do it).