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The Stresses of the Wandering Student

Creative Commons Image | Courtesy of fredthechicken

April and May are such awkward months for university students. Everyone has their thing – some are local, some are out-of-province, some are international, some are in summer school, some stay, some leave. But when school is over, for a lot of people that means moving back home for the summer.

Here in Victoria, no one seems to have these location/housing issues because (and I know I’m generalizing here) Victorians are total homebodies. I didn’t even know you could go to elementary school, high school, university or college, graduate school, and even get your PhD, M.D., whathaveyou, in the same city. I thought there was some sort of country-wide, unspoken education law that prevented people from going their entire university/college careers in the same place.

After living in Victoria for almost two years now I finally have control over “surprise face” which is sometimes interpreted as “judgmental face” when people tell me they have never left the island. Back in Ontar-iar-io I was always encouraged to leave and adventure – school is the perfect opportunity to live somewhere new, “you might never have this chance again!” people would tell me. So I left. I moved to Quebec. Then I moved back to Ontario. Then I moved to British Columbia.

And I’m starting to think you Victorians are on to something. You might have the right idea. April and May are usually very stressful months because school is over (horray!), it’s time to find a job (opposite of horray!), and for many  it means moving back home for four months before moving back to school in September. This is a lot of moving. This is a lot of selling stuff, re-buying stuff, storing stuff; worrying about leases, worrying about subletters, and worrying about being homeless next semester; packing and unpacking, packing and unpacking; cardboard box and packing tape hell.

According to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, a list of stressful life events that can contribute to illness, a change in residence and a change in schools are 20 life change units each, a change in living conditions is 25, beginning or end of school is 26 points; not including any additional stressors, after 6 years of post-secondary education I have a total high score of 786 life change units at the tender age of the early-mid twenties. 300+ life change units means you are at high risk of stress-related illness. So it follows that if I am to believe this scale, it is a miracle I am still alive.

My fellow Victoria student peers have a solution to raking up hundreds of stress units. Just don’t move so much! They also have this wonderful website that, if you happen to be moving, makes the whole process of getting and getting rid of stuff a lot easier. You might have heard of it. I only wish I had when I was moving all over the place. I have learned a lesson here in Victoria, and for the next 12 months I’m not moving anywhere.

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