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!

Jews of India

Jews of India

On January 28th, I was proud to host a panel discussion on the history and culture of the Jewish communities of India with 40 guests and about 80 listeners. I was inspired to put the program together by the thoughtful Sephardi, Mizrahi, Ethiopian, Bukhari and yes, Indian Jews on social media who advocate for their community’s representation within large Jewish institutions. 

For most of my life, ‘Jewish cultural programming’ has been synonymous with either Ashkenazi or Israeli culture, to the detriment of my understanding of our people’s beautiful diversity. Working at the University of Toronto Multi-Faith Centre, I realized I could use the platform I was responsible for to uplift these lesser-heard Jewish voices. I settled on Indian Jewry, as opposed to Ethiopian or Bukhari or Kai Feng Jews, out of interest in the origin story of their people: a ship fleeing war in Judea wrecks off the coast of Mumbai, where a dozen survivors reconstitute their culture in a strange land, isolated from world Jewry for hundreds of years.

We had four speakers. Dr Shalva Weil, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Ann Samson, a historian and leader of Toronto’s Indian-Jewish synagogue; Judith Dworkin, an Indian Jewish educator raised in Toronto’s Indian-Jewish community and Director of McMaster Hillel; and Anna Rajagopal, a young Indian Jewish writer and activist from the United States, who is a prominent social media personality for Jews of Colour. 

The program was phenomenal. We had nearly 100 guests, and many questions for our speakers. All of the speakers enjoyed their time and are eager to come back for any future programs. It was equal parts fascinating and touching to hear these four people describe their relationships with ashkenormativity, diaspora, and most importantly, their own culture.

Jacob Kates Rose, Hillel UofT

A Hillel Staff’s Perspective

A Hillel Staff’s Perspective

Students have had a very different academic year. One that they have never experienced before. There has been isolation, lack of extracurricular activities and little to no in-person contact. In a recent McMaster Hillel student executive meeting on zoom, I said “we are in the business of community so we need to think creatively about what it feels like to be part of this community. ” How does one do this in a pandemic, when campus is closed and when we don’t see each other at all? How do we know how each of us are doing? Are we alone? Are we lonely? Are we coping? Do we bring our best selves to a Zoom and then grapple alone with our worries? These are the questions that I struggle with when trying to support a community despite the challenges that exist for us. 

From the beginning, Hillel pulled out all the pandemic stops to connect with students. Shabbat in a box and delivered to you? Yes! Zoom games night? Yes! Mental health and wellness box? Sign up here! We have you covered. These programs and services were created to keep our community together while at our own homes. We are able to connect through a screen and eat dinner, not together, but knowing that there were over 70 students enjoying the same meal in the comfort of their own homes as well. And we connected face to face over Zoom before and after, while enjoying our rugelach, of course!

All of these programs are great, but the individual connections are even more paramount. A text to a student to check in, a happy birthday wish on their special day or an unfortunate condolence call for those who have lost loved ones. For me, it’s putting in the extra effort to make a student feel special and finding ways to do this. Does the student have dietary needs that we can fulfill and can we make this student feel seen in making a special box for them? Did a student forget to sign up for Shabbat but do we have an extra meal for them anyway? Can we put an extra dessert in a bag, just because we know that student had a tough week? Even though we are in Hamilton, can we make an extra effort so our Toronto or out-of-province students also feel a part of our community and send them mailings and deliveries so that they feel part of our programming? Having inclusive programming is a cornerstone of Hillel’s mandate. In a pandemic, even more so. 

I miss seeing the students. I miss hanging out in the Hillel office and chatting over a bagel and cracking jokes over the lineup at the toaster. I miss bumping into students on campus, catching up on their lives, and being part of a place where they come for comfort and support (and food!).    With all the programming and outreach we have done in the past 10 months, I hope that we can continue to maintain our virtual community. That even though we are not in person, our students know we are still here for them. While the medium may have changed, the sentiment certainly has not.

 

 

 

 


Judith Dworkin,
Director, McMaster Hillel

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