3A: 4 Months of Overcoming Challenges (pt. 1)

April 5, 2019

“Dear Jinjin,

We regret to inform you that due to unanticipated changes in our fulltime operations team, we are forced to rescind our offer.

Wishing you the very best and we are sorry for this last minute change !!

Best,

Employer”

You can’t be serious. This can’t be happening, I thought. I had already had a difficult 3A term that I was still struggling to complete, and just a few weeks after I got matched with this company, when I thought I could finally take a break from co-op searching and focus my energy on maintaining decent grades until the end of the term, I get notified that my co-op offer has now been rescinded…

The full effect of the email didn’t hit me hard at first, I would feel it more in May, when I began my 3B term without the rest of my cohort friends, but needless to say, I felt so shocked and hopeless. Where was I when I received the email? Here’s a snapshot of my situation: it was the evening of April 5, 2019, I was working on completing my analysis part of an information design group project. In the following week, I had another 13pg single-spaced information design journal for seven artefacts due and an 8pg contemporary Canadian literature essay due. All three assignments were due in the span of four days. Additionally, I needed to start studying for my linguistics and Canadian business history exams, two courses that I disliked and was not doing well in. To be honest, I was coming close to failing linguistics, but I put enough effort into studying for the final to more than just pass the course. For those of you wondering, linguistics is “the scientific study of language and its structure,” which had coursework like tree diagrams, data tests, and syntax structure tests, all that had to do more with science, and things that an English major like myself am usually not good at. I can write essays but conducting scientific tests on sentence and word structures takes a ton of brain power to do. As for Canadian business history, although I do have some interest in a country’s political history, this course was the most boring topic in history that I could think of. Unfortunately, when I combined the concepts from the PowerPoints together into a document, there was a total of 22pgs that I needed to study for, to prepare for an exam that demanded 3/6 short (one page) answers and two essays. I really wanted to ask the professor, that considering a short answer is a page, what a long answer is, and couldn’t really get my mind off how a first-year history course demanded two essays on a final when I’ve never had an English course with anything of the sort. Or it could be that I’m just a salty person at times.

As I was saying, I had what felt like a mountain of schoolwork to deal with, and now my co-op offer got rescinded, which meant that I needed to plan my spring 2019 term again depending on whether I could still find a decent co-op so late into the term, or possibly switch sequences (which I was very much reluctant to do). After cramming another job application session a few days before my group project was due, for which I sent out 40ish applications, I waited a week to see if I could get any responses to see if companies were still hiring. Unfortunately, the response rate was not good, I think I only received 3-4 responses, which probably would not lead to enough potential interviews to secure a summer job. This outcome forced me to consider doing a sequence switch, because that was the only other option, I had asides from taking a term off – which I couldn’t do since my goal was to graduate on time. After one week of waiting for responses, I reluctantly decided to proceed forth with requesting my career advisors for a sequence switch, another important action that needed to be done amidst everything else.

Why didn’t I want to switch sequences? For those of you who are unfamiliar with Waterloo’s study/work sequences, each student enrolled into Waterloo’s co-op program is in an alternating study/work sequence. Each group of students in the same program/year/sequence is a cohort. Basically, I was in the 3A Arts & Business cohort at that time going into my third co-op. The cohorts include other students who are on the same sequence plan as you. Having to switch sequences meant that I would be off-sequence with the rest of my friends in my cohort and wouldn’t be able to see them again until my final 4B study term. Although it’s not that I literally would never be able to see them again, but since I’m on alternating sequences with the rest of them, it becomes really hard to make time to see them again. That was my biggest frustration.

So, what’s the full picture of why 3A was such a bad term for me, you ask? I don’t mind my boyfriend leaving, because he’s going to another school to advance his career and I was prepared to accept the fact that since he’s two years older than me, he would always be ahead of me in life. I also don’t mind dealing with the mountain of schoolwork that I still had left to do, because I had to get it done anyways. The co-op offer rescind was something of a major inconvenience, but I told myself I would get over it. But having to switch sequences and be on an alternate sequence from most of my other friends was the most frustrating part.

You see, each category of problems was something I could manage to deal with and tolerate, individually. However, problems in the three areas of my student life – academics, career, and social life – were combined into a gigantic snowball that was rolling at increasing speed towards me, and I already felt so drained of both time and energy to deal with them. Looking back, I think April 2019 has to be the toughest month of my whole undergrad, unless I face more difficult situations in the future. It was a time in which I felt like a phone on 20% battery that had to keep all my apps running on full function despite the fact that my energy was quickly being drained. The fact that coordinating with my sublet for the next term to move in to my new apartment turned out to be a complete hassle did not make ending the term any easier.

The last thing that made me realize how stressful of a term I’ve had was the one week break I had before my 3B term started. I usually made full use out of my breaks because of course the most Waterloo co-op students get is three weeks, averaging more at one to two weeks. Although I wanted to rejuvenate myself both mentally and physically from the past term, I had trouble even coming up with the energy to make myself a proper lunch at home for most of the week. When my mom asked why I was barely eating anything at home and how I would survive the next term, I simply told her I would find a way. Internally, I was dead tired on the inside and had no idea how to explain to her the extent of my exhaustion.

To conclude today’s blog post, I really hope the end of 3A was the lowest point of my undergrad career because I felt like I reached my breaking point this term. In the first two years of university, I would get upset over minor lost marks on grades here and there and degree-required courses that I had no interest in. Looking back at those times, things that I got upset about earlier on seem really petty compared to the issues I’ve faced this term, and it’s helped me to view academics and my career in a broader perspective. Got a 65 on a quiz worth 10%? Don’t worry about it for more than 5mins because it’s definitely not going to matter in the next 5 years. I would also like to thank my friends for supporting me through all the rough challenges I’ve faced in the past term – your words of encouragement mean a lot to me and sometimes all it takes is a brief check-in from my friends to make my day a whole lot brighter – so thank you.

If you’ve read up to here, thank you for taking the time to read my entire blog post. As all my close friends know, I’ve developed habits as a third-year English major to write a minimum of three pages on my thoughts/feelings and other issues I have in mind, so don’t expect any less 😛 This is all I have to say for now, but be prepared for a part 2 coming soon…on lessons learned in third year!

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