Wellness Wednesday: Stepping into a new year

GrĂ¡inne Hand Assistant Director


September 2, 2020

This week marks the start of the school year. Pre-schools, primary schools, secondary or high schools and third level colleges will begin the 2020 2021 academic year in very strange times. I feel that September is drummed into our brains from a young age as being the month that marks the return of structure, routine and rules within a system. As humans we thrive on that. We need structure, we need the rules that go along with being part of a system.  

On a bright and sunny Monday morning this week I waved goodbye to my 3 year old son as he continued on his journey of learning at his Montessori school.  The first day he ran inside to his new classroom and barely said goodbye to his slightly anxious mother standing at the door.  The second day, well, that looked quite different. School, his teacher and his new surroundings had very quickly become something that he, in his own words "would go to tomorrow or the next day". I had to be strong and walk away from the chaos and let his teacher be the expert on this. Day 3 was today and things looked up a little. We chatted about the fact that we don't always want to do things in life but that we still need to do them and do our best at them. Seems obvious to most of us I think but 3 year olds need to learn such things.

Change is difficult for all of us.  I've been working at Arcadia University the last 18 years and every single August and September I've travelled on the journey of the new school year with so many American students. My colleagues and I have watched students go from excited and literally hopping through the door on day 1 to feeling that study abroad was the worst mistake of their lives the next. We have watched on and have had the joy of seeing hundreds of students stick with their journey through thick and thin and fulfill their dream of study abroad.  

This year, so many students have to face both change and uncertainty in the system of learning. We don't know how long this entire situation will last. We are perhaps wondering about this will impact on our future grades and next steps after graduation. The joy of meeting up with friends in person isn't there for so many of us. The physical separation and distance is bound to be a challenge. Our friends and peers motivate us and help us to create new beginnings, especially in the new school year. 

Today why don't we step into the now and think about the things that we can control. We can create new structures and new ways of being in this new school year. I feel that there has never been a better time to try, even if difficult, to keep those connections online. It is not a time to retreat into your own space and give all your emotional and mental energy to your school work.  That is very important of course and crucial to getting through this phase in your life but other things are needed to create and maintain balance. The social component still needs to be there, even if it is virtual.  A virtual meet up, a virtual exchange of ideas on a subject. If you can still meet some friends at a distance, do it!

Be kind to yourself this year. We have been exposed to so much the last while.

Good luck and good learning! 


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