The Undergraduate Journey: Taking Care of Yourself

APRIL 7TH, 2024 AT 7:34 PM

Vedanth Desaigoudar is a MASc Biomedical Engineering candidate at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Vedanth is eager to help students navigate the academic and non-academic areas of their undergraduate journey. Whether you are at the start of your undergraduate studies or towards the end, Vedanth hopes to shine some light on your journey and help you reach your goals!

There’s so much work to do! How do I handle all my courses and still pursue the hobbies I love?” Do these thoughts sound familiar? As you embark through your undergraduate journey (and even after), it can feel intimidating. University is a large environment, a city of its own if you will. However, within this fast-paced city, it is important to prioritize your health and wellbeing.

Whether you are at the beginning or somewhere in the middle of your undergraduate journey, you will always have questions. Through this article, I hope to summarize three tangible tips you can incorporate during your time in undergrad to really optimize your wellbeing and cultivate experiences that you will cherish lifelong. This article is mainly my opinion on this matter. Therefore, I encourage you to learn different perspectives from a wide range of people you meet in university. Everyone has a wonderful story to share and there is always at least one lesson/strategy you can learn from their experiences.

Tangible Tips

  • Make Time for Your Hobbies. Just because university coursework can get busy, this does not mean you should stop doing what you love. It is important to keep a priority list and reflect on it as you go. However, you should do your best to make time for things you love. One of the ways (and remember this is not the only way) is to combine things you need to complete with things you want to complete. This may sound a bit confusing so let’s break it down with an example. At some point or the other during your undergraduate studies, you will probably have to cook a meal. In this case, cooking is a need—to stay well-nourished. However, cooking can also be something you love to complete—a hobby to explore. This was the case for me. Learning to cook different recipes was a way to explore a creative interest of mine. Another reason I loved cooking during university was because I got instant feedback from my friends on whether my food was good. It was also a great way for me to try new recipes, experiment with flavours, and see what worked and what did not. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn from some of your hobbies (and sometimes you may even see subtle overlaps with your coursework!). When you genuinely pursue your hobbies, you’ll also prevent yourself from burning out.

  • Introspect, Introspect, Introspect! Without sounding too much like a motivational speech, as much as getting advice from others is great, at the end of the day you must make decisions for yourself. The best way to refine this process is to continuously reflect on yourself, the decisions you have taken, their outcomes, and where you feel you want to see change. This is an active process. For example, if you had a busy week with multiple midterms and assignments, take some time after that week to really think about how you were doing. “Were you eating well? Was your energy level consistently strong throughout the day—if not, was there a pattern in when your energy levels dropped. Where did most of your time go? Is there a way to optimize how you work going forward?” Introspect with a fine-tooth comb. Going through this process, you learn a lot about yourself and when you make tangible changes to your work-life, you can see improvements. Sometimes writing these down in a diary can be helpful!

  • Prioritize your Mental Health. You’ve probably heard this a lot and that’s because it is super important to take care of yourself. Burnout is very common during university, and it can be harder when things happen unexpectedly in your life. You need to prepare yourself with the necessary support systems and strategies to effectively navigate this. Speaking with a friend, watching your favourite TV show, going for a jog, whatever you find to be relaxing, you can do. Another key pillar is to avoid comparing yourself to others. While it may be tempting to do this, it can be damaging to your self-esteem and confidence. Everyone is leading different lives, and everyone is experiencing different challenges. It is important to stay focused on your goals and create tangible ways to achieve your goal. Your timeline is not someone else’s timeline. Define your goals (write them on a paper if it helps) and consistently work towards them. Having a routine keeps a strong momentum going and during the times where you feel low or stressed, this momentum motivates you to keep going.


Useful Resources


a.   This article speaks about ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance; while the advice is general, it is important to think about how it can be applied to your daily lives. (10-15 mins read)




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