Reaching out when you’re struggling helps

Happy Reading Week, everyone! How are you all doing?

To be honest, this is my 3rd draft for this week’s blog. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share this on a supposedly relaxing reading week, but well…we’re here.

Aside from the usual life sciences stream, I’m also enrolled in a first-year foundational one program. While I started this program with a lot of anticipation and enthusiasm, I’m honestly feeling quite disconnected and uninterested with the content we’re learning. I managed to push through the program last semester, so I thought that I would push through it this semester too. But honestly, it's not going too great.

This program requires me to take 2.0 FCEs worth of courses, so almost all my courses I have taken are considered core courses. And nope, CR/NCR is not possible :’)

 As of a few weeks ago, the pressure from this program has come to a point where it’s affecting everything else. In these courses, I constantly feel like I’m behind with everything and that I’m confused with what we’re learning. I’m always stressed about the assignments and I procrastinate in doing work because I don’t really enjoy them. It’s quite a complicated relationship, and now the relationship is taking a lot of energy from me.

As soon as I realized that, obviously I wanted to do something to feel better. I started planning to talk to people and here were my steps. YES, in this exact order.

I talked to a peer supporter at Health & Wellness

I didn’t know how much pressure I was feeling from this program until I verbalized my situation to the peer supporter. As I was talking, I realized that I had a lot more to say about my struggles. I was taken aback when my peer supporter identified my actual concern through my ramblings. When she pointed that out, I started crying. (Yea, I didn’t know it was that bad, either). I felt better after that ranting session, and I gained more clarity around what I should do.

I talked to a learning strategist

After understanding more on how I should move forward, I still needed some advice to cope with these courses. I booked an appointment with my college’s learning strategist. Not only did she provide specific strategies to approach my assignments, but she also helped me in coming up with questions to seek support from my professor. I was genuinely surprised with the wide range of support a learning strategist provides. When later I told my friends about my experience, they also spoke highly of the service, so… WOW, I guess I’m the one who’s behind in taking advantage of our resources.

I planned to talk to an academic advisor (college-specific)

I wanted to withdraw from the program completely during my emotional breakdown with the peer supporter. However, I must admit that it’s not easy to drop course(s). Especially as an international student, I feel like it’s such a waste of money. If I could cope with the workload, I would even take 6 courses a semester. Since I was seriously considering dropping out of the program, I was concerned with my graduation timeline, course credits, and a lot of things among others.

I didn’t end up talking to an academic advisor since I decided to complete the program anyways, given that we have only a couple of weeks left.

I talked to a group member

I’m working on a major group project in one of the classes. I was afraid that my performance would affect the group, which was also one of the main reasons I was considering withdrawing. I thought that talking to a group member was necessary to let them know what I was feeling.

I talked to my TA

I also reached out to my TA since I felt more comfortable in doing so than talking to the professor. I told him that I’m really stressed because of the program and that I wanted advice in moving forward. He heard me out and suggested alternatives to improve our group discussions so that class will feel less overwhelming.

Honestly, by this time, I’d already talked about how I felt a few times, so it wasn’t feeling as urgent anymore. I’m glad that I felt heard and that my feelings were validated, though.

I plan to reach out to my professor

I haven’t yet reached out to my professor, but I will soon. The next major assignment is during exam season, and hopefully by then I’ll be less confused. I want to at least get more clarity on our final assignment since assignments are usually my major source of stress in this program.

I'm glad that I've been keeping an eye out for any available resources, because they definitely helped me to act swiftly when I needed support. Regardless of the current challenge, I believe this semester is going to continue peacefully. It's already better than the last one.

Anyways, I hope your rest of the semester goes smoothly and that you reach out to people to seek help (or rant).

Have a great week ahead!!

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