This past summer I was an Aggie. I am an environmental sciences student from Toronto, so this was an unexpected adventure for me. My co-op placement took me to small town Saskatchewan working for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on a research farm.
The drive from Regina Airport to Indian Head, where I would spend the next 4 months was flat and straight. Fields of wheat and canola lined either side of the highway, anticipating the warmer weather to come (and did it ever). And Christian billboards preached to us as we drove by. The town of Indian Head is approximately 1800 people strong. It’s a place where strangers wave to you, and the mentality of “Why walk when I spent $50,000 on a pickup truck?” prevails. Fancy speed boats and yappy dogs are common. And there is no Tim Hortons.
I lived in the “Sunshine Mobile Home Park” in a trailer with 2 other University of Guelph students, and together we embraced the Saskatchewan life. I learned to drive a tractor, went quadding through mud, put a watermelon on my head for the Roughrider’s game, and got a little wild at the Craven Country Thunder Music Festival. As it turns out, the northern half of the province is Canadian shield, and looks quite like Ontario. We discovered this on the multiple camping trips that we went on. There were also a couple of concerts that we were able to go to, including Regina-natives “The Dead South”, a wonderful bluegrass band. Enough said - we were never bored.
My co-op placement was very interesting, and I had a great, easy-going group to work with. There were a few different studies that we worked on over the summer. One related to increasing biomass production of biofuel crops, and another to insect abundances in canola fields. I learned a lot about breeding trees, plant physiology, and agricultural practices. Agriculture is not something I anticipate pursuing in the future, but I really enjoyed learning about plants, working outside, and having diverse daily schedules.
My favourite aspect of living in Indian Head, was how quiet and simple the lifestyle was. The people were so welcoming and generous. Compared to the GTA where people always seem so busy, and life is complicated. What I missed most about home, was the lack of wilderness. Parks, woods, creeks, and lakes are more abundant and easily accessible even in the densely populated southern Ontario than in southern Saskatchewan. Other than in provincial and national parks, trees existed only in rows or on lawns.
All in all, the Saskatchewan life is pretty swell. There are differences, but it’s not that different.
At night, I would fall asleep to the sound of the same trains that pass by my house in Toronto.
by Serra Henderson
As a university student, finding time to stay organized and feel somewhat normal is never easy. Especially when it comes to trying to balance the entire world on your pinky finger. For me, I usually break down at the midterm mark. I have 5 assignments, 3 midterms, 2 tutorials and 3 quizzes all due within in 2 days (ok maybe not 2 days but it feels that way sometimes), I definitely tend to put my life on hold. Here are some of my tips and tricks to keep you at ease during this midterm season.
Tip #1: Say No
You are a priority. Sometimes you have to pick your battles. If you didn't get everything done you wanted to throughout the week, maybe take one night out of the weekend to focus on studying and the other night can be spent with friends. If you've got 10 billion things on the go - volunteering, student council, bee watching, studying AND trying to plan a date with that really cute person you've been chatting up in class - SAY NO. You come first. Make certain things a priority and get them done; if you feel you don't have time for those, say no to the secondary things. It'll free up your time and allow you to get more than 5 hours of sleep.
Tip #2: Designate Mental Health Days
You may be a student, but don’t forget you're still a person too. Sundays are my mental health days. What does this entail? I do my laundry, clean up my room, get groceries, and organize myself for the week ahead. I'll write out what is due the week coming, and what I plan on having done by certain dates so that way I feel relaxed the next time Sunday rolls around. I refuse to do any work on Sundays; that's what the other 6 days of the week are for. During the week, I can feel lost, exhausted and just plain BLEH. Taking a mental health day makes me take a step back and just feel like myself again.
Tip #3: Call the Fam
Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed, I always find someone to just chat on the phone with. No texting, an actual over the phone conversation. It helps me take my mind off of whatever's making me crazy, or sometimes get an outside opinion on how I should deal with things. Whether this be your mom, dad, sibling, grandparents, or even close friend that you haven't seen in a while - take the time to talk to them and just catch up. It brings you back to reality and back into perspective.
Tip #4: Get a Day-Planner
We are all adults now. Writing an alarm in your phone at 4PM because you have a dentist’s appointment at 4:05 is not acceptable. I use a 4-month calendar so I can plan things in advance. Outlook calendar is also a great way to give you a visual of how your week will look. Pro-tip: if you're meeting with a group, invite your group members via email so your meeting times all sync and you will get a notification for it. Having a physical copy of a day planner allows you to throw in the little things you may forget. Like maybe you should email your prof about the lecture notes before you know you're going to miss their class. I also keep a little sticky note on the inside of my laptop so that way every time I open it I see what I need to do before I look through Pinterest for 2 hours.
Tip #5: Do What Makes You Happy
We’re all just chillin here trying to find our place. There is so much opportunity on campus to do stuff. I joined 3 intramural teams because sometimes I can't find time for the gym (even though I work there lol) so having teammates holds me accountable and gets me out of the house. We have clubs for literally every major on campus that hold meetings that anyone can attend. We've got clubs for all kinds of ethnicities, backgrounds, and religions. If there's something you're passionate about, GO FOR IT. Doing what you love not only makes school more tolerable, but it gives you something to look forward to every day.