Free time may be a foreign concept for many students, but there are some students who will do whatever they can to find the time
Have you ever had your schedule so full that you feel like there isn’t even time to breathe?
While university experiences vary from student to student, free time can feel unattainable for working students managing jobs while also studying full time.
Zoia Kanovich, a third-year languages and intercultural relations student at Ryerson, has a very busy schedule. It took some finagling to find a moment where she had time to talk about her busy life.
Kanovich spends her days attending virtual classes and working as a piano teacher to 11 students. Before the pandemic, her schedule was similar but she also worked at Bath & Body Works — a job she lost because of COVID-19.
With a current workload of four courses this semester, she said she multitasks to manage her school, work and personal life. After class, she’ll usually focus on teaching piano from home for about an hour or two, before turning her attention towards looming school assignments.
“The workload has been heavy and Ryerson should have, in my opinion, become more lenient,” said Kanovich. “I feel like they’re still marking us as hard as they would if we were going there in person. I feel like everything’s the same, which I don’t think is quite fair.”
With the pressures of online school and living without financial support from her family, she has to make sure her monthly expenses are always covered.
“I pay for my own rent,” she said. To cover her $675 a month rent, she uses the majority of the money she makes to cover the living expenses.
“I rely on my paycheque, you know, month to month to get me by.”
With little time to spare and a no-excuses attitude, she still goes the extra mile to make sure her mental health is taken care of. Earlier this year, she started a yoga challenge and was waking up early every morning to slip in an hour to focus on herself.
No matter how busy Kanovich gets she says she always makes time to sit down and step back from her daily duties.
“You can do those things like setting your alarm for an hour earlier to get that hour and do whatever you want to do, whether it’s a jog, run, or yoga,” she said. However, she acknowledged that for those working four jobs or taking care of their families, this isn’t so easy to do.
When it comes to how Canadian students are coping with the demands of school, 88.2 per cent of students reported feeling overwhelmed, 87.6 per cent felt exhausted, 68.9 per cent felt overwhelming anxiety, and 51.6 per cent felt so depressed it was difficult to function, according to a study done by the American College Health Association.
In 2017, 62 per cent of Ryerson students reported working weekly for money. Among the employed students, 77 per cent said they work off campus, as reported in Ryerson’s National Survey of Student Engagement.
A lot of students have to support themselves by working, so not having a job isn’t always an option. On top of that, their homework needs to get done and the adjustment to university life can take a toll — especially during the pandemic.
“They’re learning how to manage their finances and their relationships. They’re learning a whole new academic system, which is different from high school,” Dr. Su-Ting Teo, director of student health and wellness at Ryerson, told the Toronto Star.
“And they’re just so much less supported,” she said. “In high school you have a schedule. You need to show up. In university or college, if you don’t show up, nobody knows. No one is checking up on you… It’s a huge shift.”
Naushad Majid Sayeed, a third-year computer science student, isn’t working at the moment, but finds his schedule jam-packed with schoolwork. He spends 40 hours a week going to online class, working on assignments and studying. After that, he still allocates his extra time to school.
“I did only take three courses but that’s still a lot for someone like me,” he said. “I get anxiety doing some of those courses at times.”
When it comes to feeling like free time is something attainable for university students, Sayeed said, “free time is definitely a lie.” With tons of homework and midterms fresh in students’ minds, they have a lot on their plate.
When it comes to students who are financially supported by their parents or who live at home, Kanovich doesn’t think they would experience the same levels of stress.
“If there is a big weight off your shoulders – you don’t need to clean, you don’t need to cook, you don’t need to do some of those kinds of things that you do when you live on your own,” she said.
“Yeah, I think they have it way easier.”