So it’s reading week right now at my uni, and even though it’s named like it should be taken more seriously it actually looks a lot like the American ‘Spring Break Woo Hoo.’ At least for most people.
Last year, in my first year of my undergrad, I went to Montreal for reading week. Going to Montreal for reading week is the Canadian equivalent of going to Florida or California, except colder and more legal. At the time all of my friends were under aged at 18 and so Quebec was this beautiful place only 4 hours away where they could exchange their disposable income for alcohol without having to worry about losing their fakes.
(Possible economic solution: Lowering the drinking age to stimulate the economy.)
Anways, I was legal to drink everywhere in Canada at the time, being a year older than most of my friends so this trip didn’t have quite the same novelty for me that it did to them. Mostly I just wanted to be with my friends.
And as awesome as that trip was because I got to do a lot of things I had never done before like get a boys number and eat poutine with bacon and push a guy off my friend in the middle of the club, I am very glad that I did not try to recreate that trip this year.
Most of my friends are gone for reading week- my girlfriend flew home, my roommate went to Florida, the Down Undies (my old floor) are skiing and shopping and eating home cooked food and my one unfortunate friend on co-op is working.
That is my very first Roll up the Rim coffee by the way. It is a beautiful beginning of a really unattractive overcaffienated couple weeks.
Back to the post: I had to stay on campus this year because I am a Don (or an R.A. depending on what uni you go to) and being on an empty campus is a singularly meditative experience. Being able to walk across campus without seeing a single person, only geese and squirrels, makes the campus seem like a different place. And when I walk past 5 closed Tim Hortons on campus it almost feels like I am the last person here.
So basically I’ve spent a lot of time reading for school and for pleasure and walking further than I normally do for coffee. But this quiet, this total focus on school, is something that has made me think.
Having to do readings and papers and labs and etc. While your friends are around usually involves a lot of complaining. We complain about course load and due dates and the format of the tests and how long marking is taking and how completely unfair it is to have participation marks.
And in all that complaining you can forget the unique and incredible experience you are having.
One of my required courses is called Social Research and for the last two weeks it has been the bane of my existence. In that time we have had to read 10 journal articles and write a literature review. Then we had to identify an area that was lacking and research it, creating a survey for our class to fill out while we filled out theirs. We just got our surveys back on the last day before reading week and now we need to write a code book and collect all our data.
And I’m staring at this stack of surveys that are bigger than my textbook and it is terrifying. Coding data is not particularly fun to see or have described to you, but it is weirdly fun in a satisfying kind of way. I don’t know if I ever would have had that thought if I didn’t have this week off and away from everyone.
Because when we get caught up in complaining we forget that we are so incredibly lucky. We are lucky to have these exams and readings and assignments that challenge us. We are lucky that we can discuss the metaphor of fat in Fight Club and how group psychology affects us and calculate Pearson’s coefficient.
We are so lucky we can learn how to code data.
We- I- am so incredibly lucky to be at university, and that’s a feeling we should hold onto more often.