University is a stressful time. In many ways, its essence is transitory. Yes, you’re here for a couple of years at least, but its main purpose is to propel you towards a new career, a better job, a change of pace. Whatever you want to get out of your time at GGU, it’s probably going to mean some major shift in lifestyle, finances, even country of residence while you complete your studies. Incumbent with that is the possibility of moving home, stricter budgeting, moving away from friends and family and strict time-management organization. All of these things are stressful. I know because I have been through all of them over the past couple of years and I’m sure many of you have been through some, if not all, too. We know why we’re doing it – these issues are temporary and are worth the sacrifice for the longer-term benefits.
But while we’re in this situation, it’s not always easy to remind ourselves of this. Combined with the pressures of school work, it’s a lot. We have to move out of our current place by next week, we have two papers and a presentation due at the weekend, our loan’s nearly gone for this term and we’re trying to juggle money around. We can get lost in the pressures of the moment and that’s when we may need to take some time to think about how to best look after ourselves.
There is plenty of advice out there about how to do this. We all have out own methodology and know what works best for us. For me, exercise is key. If it’s all starting to feel a little overwhelming, I jump on my bike or hop in my kayak and immediately, the world’s a better place. I also hugely value my network of friends. For those of us whose families are thousands of miles away, it’s essential we have a new family here. By this, I mean, a network of people who care about us, who have our best interests at heart, and are ready with good advice when we need it. And finding this family is easy in a city as sociable and interactive as San Francisco. I’m lucky in that my community on the Sausalito houseboats is close-knit, hugely supportive and right on my doorstep whenever I need them. But I also belong to InterNations, the organization for expats and a British/Irish Meet Up group. I sail with new people regularly and, of course, my friends and colleagues at GGU are like a family. So, you just need to find your family. Your fellow students are a first point of call as they understand and share your struggles and successes. But whether it’s museum groups, your local gym, the regulars at your closest Starbucks, I promise you that your family is out there somewhere.
So talk to people, exercise, read, write, draw pictures, meditate, whatever gives you joy and gets you out of your head for as long as you need. But if all that fails, then contact the university. They absolutely want to hear from you if you’re finding things are getting too much and they are set up to help. Your academic advisor can get involved if your concerns are school work-related and might have some suggestions on how to lighten the load, reorganize classes or something else that may make life a little easier for you. If you need additional support, or if your concerns don’t fall within their remit, them do contact Wellness Resources. They exist to help you through when times get tough and to provide you with the tools to help yourselves in the future. Meditation, mindfulness and counselling are just some of the services they offer, so if you’re in need, please do get in touch with them. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 415-442-6578. Their on-campus hours are Mon – Wed: 9 am – 4:30 pm and Thu: 9 am – noon