Student Voices: Back and forth, round and round | Work of Arts
Student Voices: Back and forth, round and round | Work of Arts

Student Voices: Back and forth, round and round

Aboriginal student blogger reflects on the pressures of university life

Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and viewpoints of current Arts students. Through their posts, you’ll experience the creativity and passion of our students as they present glimpses into student life. The views and opinions expressed within these posts are solely those of the authors.


Reading week has ended. I’ve barely got any work done. I needed the break. I’m reviewing my experience of this place.

We’re under so much pressure. So pushed, pulled and twisted beyond our limits. If I recall correctly, Reading Week was put in place to give a sort of reprieve from the substantial and overwhelming demands that the university places upon students, and its staff also. Students, particularly, get pommelled with that heavy winter slog — some have seen no way of getting out and who are, consequentially, no lon20160301_161420_LLSger with us. There are too many casualties. These are quiet stories. Campus quiet.

But I dunno. Word is that many staff disagree that the break is productive. I’ve heard that we might “lose momentum to finish out the term” and that “productivity is much lower in March due to the break.”

I think about how the temporality of my student experience is one of the most messed up things I’ve had to endure. I understand this may be emphasized seeing as I am both a creative writer and an English major. My days, and sometimes my nights, are filled with a jumbled-up mass of words and ideas that I fear won’t be easily separated nor articulated when I need those to be.

Fear bubbles up, travels through, over. I can’t sleep. I can’t concentrate. I can’t expel it fast enough. I clench my jaw. I stop breathing. My stomach floats. I’m stuck in a series of stop-starts.

We must always be planning ahead; we must be planning for the next project, the next assignment and the next reading or exam.

We are instructed to be active listeners and learners considering the materials provided —oftentimes there are far too many to sift through — and we are asked to move constantly from present to future to present to future, occasionally drawing on the past but mostly drawing upon the now. In the meantime, we must always be planning ahead; we must be planning for the next project, the next assignment and the next reading or exam.

The administrative portion of being both a student and part-time Instructional Assistant has no end. My inbox is always full. I’m a hamster on a wheel that turns and turns and turns. And if the only way to truly understand the material, the concepts, is to remain in the present, then should we not be more set up that way? For success? It blows my mind that some students manage to take five or more classes.

And where does the idea that an overview is the best approach to a course and to learning? I’d rather hone in on things and expand. It’s much more valuable to do close reading, close studying and close workshopping. I think this is what some profs want to do. Some do it well. Others fail epically or have no inkling. But perhaps this isn’t good enough for some students. Some thrive on the quantity. I wonder why.


If you, or someone you know, is struggling or would like to know more about campus support systems, please see:

Community Social Work Team

Counselling & Clinical Services

Peer Support (Students’ Union)

And if you are worried about a friend, a colleague or a student, please see: Helping Individuals at Risk (HIAR)

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About Corinne Riedel

Corinne Riedel

Corinne Riedel (Métis) is in the third year of her Bachelor of Arts. She is working towards a certificate in Community Service-Learning while majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing, as well as co-instructing a junior English course in Aboriginal literature and writing. Forever reading and writing poetry, tea and fruit in hand, she enjoys being outdoors. Whether on or slightly off campus, she cannot get enough sunshine and conversation with campus cousins. She is interested in knowledge-keeping for the purpose of sharing as much as she is interested in truth, humanization and activism through the arts.