‘Student life is so easy’, ‘I miss life at Uni’, two sentences I believe a lot of current students have heard and many students in the past as well. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that whichever moron uttered those words is in their mid-thirties and having forgotten the plethora of different elements that occupies a student’s day-to-day life, wishes they could return to a ‘simpler’ time. Let’s break down this ‘simple’ time, and compare it to a regular nine-to-fiver’s life.
Studying at university level, takes up 35-45 hours of your week, or it should if done, ‘properly’. That is already the same amount as a full time job. Okay, so we are currently even with our comparative nine-to-fiver; life equally ‘simple’, I suppose. Well, how do students make money? Can’t survive without the sweet green. Yes, you can apply for a student loan (lending money, another stress factor, but let’s not digress), but the monthly amount doesn’t go far. What I believe most students acquire is, a part-time job. Personally, I work two to three nights a week, averaging between 15-20 hours; and I know certain people push that number even higher. Okay, so now we are beating (or loosing) to our dear average worker by at least ten hours.
Moving on, what else is important? Oh yes, of course, a social life. I believe this is what dear Mr./Ms. Nine-to-five misses the most about the student life, the parties. Yes, one can argue that the life of a student is a highly social one, but it comes with a price. Having drinks on Wednesday minimises the chance of waking up for that 9 A.M. lecture the next day, or being at the library bright and early; books in hand and a smile on your face. Or maybe I am just getting old, because I sure as hell can’t pull it off anymore.
Is something missing? Of course, how could I forget? Working out. Can’t pick up all those hot chicks/dudes at the parties unless you are rocking an Adonis/Goddess-like body (of course there is the health aspect of working out as well, but that seems trivial). Let’s say we want to hit the gym two times a week plus go jogging one day, I’d say we are looking at around 4-5 hours of time spent. Along the same lines as working out, comes hobbies, a luxury I haven’t indulged in for quite some time. I have a lot of skills I would like to attain, musical and lingual for example, just to name a couple. I live in The Netherlands, yet can’t find a little time to practice Dutch; a skill which would be useful in the present. I used to play guitar for six years, yet in the present can’t find 15 minutes a day to pluck on the strings. It saddens me, and this brings a whole different type of anxiety to the table, the ‘unfinished-project’-anxiety. But that’s a story for another day.
Let’s move further, into a culminating aspect; routine. I believe the biggest stress factor (at least personally) is the absence of a daily or weekly routine. When you are a regular ‘5-day a week, nine-to-fiver’, upon finishing work you have time for yourself. I know, in the previous paragraph I talked about working out and hobbies; and it’s not like nine-to-fivers don’t work out or have hobbies. It is just that their ‘own time’ is clearly outlined. For a student, it all kind of blends together, at least in my experience. Using my roommates as counterparts, both being full-time workers, I can’t help but sometimes feel jealous. Yes, they have to get up at 7:30 every morning and head towards the office an hour later, but when they arrive home at 6 in the evening, work is over. It’s ‘their’ time after that. I arrive home two hours later and (usually) have to continue working on something school or work related at home after that, if I am not physically working; in which case I’ll come home in the middle of the night and probably go straight to bed. Similarities can be found during the weekend, a regular 5-day worker has choices; most likely every weekend. The choice to go out for dinner, drinks or some other non-work related activity. The choice to stay at home in their sweatpants watching Netflix for twelve hours a day. I, on the other hand, usually work either Friday or Saturday; or both. And if I am not working, there is most likely some school project I should be working on or some reading I should be doing. If, and this is highly unusual, I have NO responsibilities on the weekend; I feel almost obliged to go out and party. Don’t want our youth to wither away without an adequate amount of drunken one-night stands on our belt, now do we? Jokes aside, very, very, I can’t stress it enough, rarely do I have a weekend just for myself. There is always something. To amplify my point, I returned to Amsterdam on the 17th of August after my summer break, not once have I had time to properly clean my room.
Let’s contemplate on what can be done. Whenever some dildo of a person tells me ‘if you want to find time you will’ I feel like serving them a nice backhand pimp slap. No, I can’t, because I cannot bend time, you overly-positive turtle shell of a person. ‘You just have to prioritise.’, really, Sherlock? Didn’t know. I do prioritise, but there are certain limitations to prioritising. I need money, so I have to work. Or maybe I should tell the cashier at Albert Heijn that I am prioritising my time, therefore I should receive free produce. I need to study, well at least if I want to continue my study. So no wiggle room there, or maybe my professor will understand that the reason I didn’t hand in my paper is because the smelly hippy at Dam Square taught me the wisdom of prioritising. So, where does this leave me? I cut the things that seem the ‘least important’, A.K.A. the things I do for myself. I cut working out, playing guitar, seeing my friends, trying to learn a language or how to use an editing programme, but mostly (and I know this is unhealthy) I cut sleep. I believe it is a human right, not a luxury, to have some time to yourself. I spoke to my father a while back and told him about how I feel like I never have any time to myself, and he agreed with my notion. So yes, I cut sleep. Because when I get home from work, I want to read something not school assigned, I want to watch a series on Netflix, to feel like I am finally doing something I want to do, not something I feel I ‘have’ to do; knowing fully well that it means I get one hour less of sleep, and subsequently might oversleep for the morning lecture. But I believe it is my right, to at least at some point during the day not feel obliged to do something but do it simply because I want to.