Tips for Surviving Second Semester

by | Feb 29, 2020 | Hillel Ontario | 0 comments

Are you swamped with readings that you feel you will never catch up on? Are midterm exams piling up? Do you have five papers due in March? Second semester is upon us and so is the stress of surviving the rest of the school year. With just a few more months of school to go, and so many essays and exams, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose focus and motivation. With the help of students across Hillel Ontario’s campuses, here are tips to help you conquer the final few months.

Don’t Procrastinate. Start Now!

Remember last semester when you had 3 months to write a 15-page essay, but you still waited until the night before to start? You may not have a ton of work in the first couple of weeks, but before you know it, work will quickly start to pile up. The best thing to do is to start early and try to work ahead before school gets crazy busy. Going ahead in your readings, doing practice questions, and getting your notes in order are all things you can do to work ahead before you’re actually assigned anything big. Sarah, Queens Hillel

To help you stay on track, Noam from Guelph Hillel, suggest you get a planner! “Writing it all down helps you manage your time and stay organized!”

Give Yourself a Break

Reading Week is the perfect time to catch up on your school work while also taking well-deserved time for yourself. “Rather than scrolling through social media mindlessly for an hour, schedule a more substantial study break. For example, go on a walk, hit the gym, blast your favourite music and have a dance party, get creative in the kitchen, or do some art. This way you’ll feel refreshed, happier, calmer, and you’ll be much more productive and efficient once you start working again.” Rebecca, McMaster Hillel

Make Healthy Meals

When we are stressed, we are more susceptible to getting sick. Avoid colds and flu by taking care of yourself and by eating healthy meals. “ I always find I thrive when I take 30min to make a healthy balanced meal rather than buying food on campus. It helps me focus on my work and keeps me energized for the rest of the day.” – Nicole, Hillel Waterloo/Laurier.

Ask For Help

If you are struggling to keep up with your coursework and are feeling overwhelmed, seek help. Don’t let the situation escalate and go through it alone.. If you don’t know where to go for help, start with Hillel staff. They are always eager to listen and to provide students with guidance and support. Hillel is also a great place to find a community of students who support each other during stressful times at university.

Countdown to the end of the Semester

You’re almost done! Think about how good you’ll feel when you hand in your last assignment and take your final exam. Summer will arrive before you know it, so start planning now.If you haven’t registered for Birthright yet, what are you waiting for? The trip will be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life.“Second semester can seem super long, dragging on as if summer will never come. Having something exciting planned for summer can help give you something to look forward to. Get planning on that trip, or apply for your dream internship, it will make time pass so much quicker!”- Leah, Western Hillel

We hope these tips will help you tackle the rest of the semester. What works for you? Let us know your tips; we would love to hear them. Good luck!

A Note from Marc Newburgh

This moment is anything but normal.

After approximately six weeks of working from home, in what we now know is one of the most unprecedented global challenges in our collective history, Hillel Ontario has done what, only two months ago, would have been unthinkable – physically distanced ourselves from our students, one another and our surrounding communities. We have replaced in-person interactions with virtual ones, and have been considering, each and every day, how we protect the health and well-being of all those whom we care deeply about.

Hillel Ontario, alongside all of the vital organizations that sustain our strong and resilient Jewish community, is struggling. In the face of this global crisis, we know we are being confronted with a multitude of challenges, including substantial questions regarding how the pandemic and its aftermath will impact the lives of people around the world, the global economy, and philanthropy, including our own short- and long-term financial sustainability.

Given the current pandemic and economic crisis, Hillel Ontario’s funding is expected to decrease significantly over the next 6-12 months, like so many other organizations. While the financial and operating challenges resulting from the impact of COVID-19 are still unfolding, Hillel Ontario’s ability to fulfill its mission to the greatest extent possible has, and will continue to be, dramatically impacted. 

That said, we have “pivoted” quickly during a time of great uncertainty.  With the guidance of Hillel Ontario’s Board of Directors, we have taken immediate steps to mitigate the current financial risks. These included scrubbing all expenses, the closure of all physical Hillel spaces on every campus, and moving all programming online to keep our students connected, and to support their needs.

“Talent” is the heart and soul of this organization. Hillel Ontario is strong because of the investment it has made in the Jewish professionals who work each and every day to guide, mentor and support approximately 14,000 Jewish students at nine universities across the province. We have become a strong, impactful organization because of the talented professionals we employ, and the deep commitment they have to building community that inspires Jewish students to make an enduring commitment, to Jewish life, learning and Israel.

“Talent”, though, is also our largest expense, and so it is with a great deal of sadness that to date we have had to say goodbye to 21 of our colleagues. We hope a good many of these goodbyes will only be temporary, however, the reality of our current situation makes the date when we are able to welcome back our colleagues unknown.

Decisions affecting our upcoming fiscal year are also being considered. Various budget scenarios are being analyzed, corresponding with anticipated reductions in income of between 10% to 30%. These anticipated decreases in our funding may require us to serve some campuses only virtually. Further, programmatic spending will need to be scaled back, as we stretch our internal human resources thinner to serve multiple campuses.

Moving forward, there is no doubt that Hillel Ontario will look different. We will need to be creative in how we deploy our resources and continue to innovate to achieve our mission. However, it is my deepest hope, that as the weeks and months go on, we will work together to build Hillel Ontario back up into the robust organization we know we can be, and expand, once again, our ability to serve our Jewish campus communities.

Above all, Hillel Ontario remains steadfastly committed to supporting Jewish students across the province. Like the rest of us, our students are confronting a significant crisis that is not only a health threat, both physically and mentally, but one that has upended almost any sense of normalcy, and become, at least for the near term, their new reality. In this time of crisis, both students and staff have emerged with positive and innovative ways to support one another and maintain momentum from the semester on campus.

In many ways, Hillel has become a beacon of hope in this dark time for both our staff and all Jewish students in Ontario. Hillel has provided continuity and a sense of community through its virtual gatherings and online programming. Relationships created on campus have continued, and even been strengthened, as we ensure that no one feels isolated or alone. And, for the first time, the borders of each campus, both real and perceived, have come down to create a sense of unity across Jewish students in Ontario, and globally, that has never felt so strong.

Right now, the health and well-being of the Jewish communities throughout Ontario, and across Canada, remain our primary concern. The need to ensure that UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, the Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA, and the social service agencies that they support, have the resources necessary to function during this crisis, is our most important priority. Be assured that Hillel Ontario will be working with our partners to ensure that we are doing all we can to support our community’s needs. 

In this moment of uncertainty and challenge, each and every one of us is in need of extra strength. We, Hillel Ontario, are stronger because of each of you and at moments like this, we need each other more than ever. 

Stay safe and healthy!

Marc
CEO, Hillel Ontario

A Time for Mourning, Consolation and Community

A Time for Mourning, Consolation and Community

Building on the rabbinic directive “Do not separate yourself from the community,” one medieval commentator asserts that each of us should join in carrying the community’s burdens “because anyone who separates from the congregation will not live to see the consolation of the congregation.” 

Ordinarily, this makes sense for the post-Passover period: we mourn as a community on Yom HaShoah and Yom Ha’Zikaron, and then celebrate as a community on Yom HaAtzmaut. But this year, this type of convening isn’t possible, at least not physically. And while we may all be in this together, we’re having very different experiences based on how we’re situated, and this shutdown’s disparate impacts amplify pre-existing distinctions, like our age, health status, financial independence, and professional obligations.

Without papering these over, we come together over the next nine days as a community and as best as we are able, acknowledging all of the social, technological, and other barriers that make this difficult. To mourn and to celebrate, Hillel Ontario encouraged students to participate in the following:

  • UJA Shinshinim-led Yom HaShoah Zikaron Basalon, featuring live testimony from Holocaust survivor Roma Buchman and breakout discussions facilitated by Hillel Ontario’s Shinshinim.Hillel Ontario was incredibly proud of its Shinshinim Ben Daniel and Shalev Dahan for their involvement in yesterday’s UJA-sponsored Yom HaShoah Zikaron BaSalon program. After hearing from Holocaust survivor Roma Buchman, Shalev and Ben facilitated a discussion among undergraduate students about Ms. Buchman’s personal story and the Shoah’s relevance for us today. Student attendees were engaged in the program, as it provided moments of reflection, insight, and clarity for them as they considered their own Jewish identities and their families’ experiences with the Shoah.
  • Hillel Ontario’s Yom Ha’Atzmaut Reflecting on 72 Years: A night of music, reflection, celebration and Israel, transitioning from Yom HaZikaron to Yom HaAtzmaut and presenting Israel- and independence-themed music and other entertainment.
  • UJA and the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre sponsored Cross-Canada Holocaust Remembrance Commemoration.
  • The Jewish Agency and Masa Israel are hosting a live screening of the Yom HaZikaron Memorial Service.
  • UJA’s Yom HaAtzmaut Event.

We hope you see you online and look forward both to reaching the end of our community’s mourning and separation from each other and to joining in our collective consolation and healing.

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