The Peak’s tips to survive the semester

Take a Peak into how our staff prepare for the new school year

PHOTO: Deleece Cook / Unsplash

By: C Icart, Humour Editor; Hailey Miller, Staff Writer; Izzy Cheung, Staff Writer 

Whether you’re entering your last semester at SFU or starting your first-ever year of university, the beginning of the school year is always a daunting time. Making friends, securing the best study spots, or starting courses off properly are some of the big issues that all students face at some point in their academic careers. Never fear — The Peak staff are here to offer some advice! Follow along as editors and writers share their tips to surviving the start of the semester. 

C Icart, Humour Editor — Communication, PhD student

Planning out time to do readings and work on assignments is probably a fairly intuitive practice. However, I’ve found that blocking out time for hobbies, rest, and fun, and committing to not working during those times has been so valuable. You can always do a closer reading or make more edits to that essay, but working on schoolwork 24/7 is a sure way to burn out. Being as serious about your free time as you are about coursework will help you pace yourself and maintain a good school/work/life balance. 

SFU Transit Exchange for the win. If you use transit to commute back home from Lhuḵw’lhuḵw’áyten — that’s the Squamish place name for Burnaby Mountain — you might want to catch the bus from the Transit Exchange close to Blusson Hall instead of the Transportation Centre by West Mall Centre. This is the first stop and you have a much higher chance of getting a seat.  

Exchange contact information with at least one person from each course. Some of the people I’ve met in university over the years are my closest friends. It is also great to have people you can work through course material with or vent to about a difficult course. You can keep each other in the loop if one of you has to miss class, and you never know when these connections can come in handy from a networking perspective! 

Use all the facilities and resources at your disposal. None of this is free. You already paid for it through your tuition fees. Attend presentations that interest you! Access the Student Learning Commons! Borrow video games from the library! If you’re studying at the Vancouver or Surrey campuses, there’s a chance you’re eligible for a Parks & Recreation membership in those cities and you wouldn’t have to come to the mountain to get your gym on.

Izzy Cheung, Staff Writer — Communication and English, Year 4 

Baking or preparing food always seems to help me de-stress, so oftentimes I’ll do some de-stressing food prep as a way of making snacks for class. If you have the time to do so, make some trail mix, granola, or oat bars. Keep them in the fridge and bring them to class for a mid-lecture energizer. 

Everyone needs a warm drink during these rainy fall days. I like to save a buck or two by making brown sugar americanos at home and carrying them up to campus in a high-quality insulated mug. A lot of café drinks that typically cost a small fortune can be made at home with the right ingredients (syrup, plus your choice of milk) and I find that even brewed coffee does the trick! 

I know tote bags are cute (and they give off the best fall vibes) but, I find that carrying my stuff in a backpack is a lot better for my wrists and shoulders. Our limbs suffer enough from the not-quite-comfortable lecture seating, so minimize the damage by having the weight of your laptop, water bottles, and supplies supported by both shoulders. 

When dressing for class, be sure to bring layers! Rain, cold, and especially snow can be unpredictable up on Lhuḵw’lhuḵw’áyten — particularly closer to winter — so, if you’re tempted to ditch the raincoat in favour of a cute outfit, don’t do it. 

To me, the best thing to do after a long day of studying sessions is to get some fresh air or get moving. If it’s dry out, go for a short walk — if it’s not, even just some quick stretching or yoga does wonders for the body and mind. One of the highlights of stressful work days for me is plugging into one of my favourite podcasts and de-stressing with some light pilates. 

Hailey Miller, Staff Writer — Music & Sound Major, Kinesiology and Creative Writing minor, seasoned university student (too many years to count)

Try to formulate a schedule and stick to it. Outside of class, chalk out specific times to study, socialize with friends and family, be active, and work (if applicable). Whether you’re a full-time or part-time student, being in university is stressful enough, so setting time aside for each activity makes your schedule less daunting and lightens the load. Factoring in social activities around your scholarly commitments allows for variation in your schedule, and gives you time to look forward to upcoming events and plans while still focusing on your school workload. Brain breaks are just as important as hitting the books, and self-care is a must. These practices will help you succeed in aspects outside of school, too — trust me.

Get involved in the university community outside of your studies. SFU offers many clubs to join that can help you socialize, meet new people, and de-stress from everyday demands. It might seem a little intimidating at first to join a club and try something new, but it’ll be worth engaging with people who are in the same boat as you. Plus, SFU’s clubs hold a variety of events each semester, so that gives you something to look forward to and break up all those study sessions. If clubs aren’t your thing, try swinging by one of the many coffee shops or places to eat around campus. Opt for more nutritious options to stay energized and fuel those long study hours.

Take advantage of student discounts! From streaming and social platforms such as Amazon Prime, YouTube Premium, and Spotify Premium, to coffee shops such as Bean Around the World’s Cambie and Hastings location by SFU’s Vancouver campus, you’ll be set to save in no time. Partaking in student draws and surveys on campus also allows you the chance of winning prizes and gift cards, like for SFU’s bookstore/spirit shop