Written by Katie Wuotila, Happy Human Rep. Post pandemic, in university and potentially nearing your graduation date, it is almost impossible to feel like you have everything under control in your life. Comparing yourself to others, diving into the deep hole known as social media and constantly being questioned on what you want to do after graduation all can make it feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.
I felt like this after covid restrictions phased out of our university life and things started to go back to normal. The pandemic allowed me to hide from questions posed by the future and once it faded away, the amount of control I had over my daily life went with it. Once I settled into the regular chaos that is known as university, I quickly realized that I needed to understand that I was not supposed to have it figured out and life was supposed to be messy. Additionally, reading about other people’s experiences made mine feel much less chaotic. These books educated me on some important life topics I had not lived yet and comforted me that others had much crazier introductions to adolescent life than I. Here are 5 books you should read if you have no idea what you’re doing (which is ok).
Hello! My name is Agatha Rose Joseph, and this is my second year being a part of Happy Human Project! I am a Happy Human Rep and am in my third year of Computer Science at Dal.
I landed in Halifax last fall, excited to be in a new city and atmosphere. Although the first few weeks were busy and exhilarating, I soon started to miss home and my family and all the fun I used to have with my friends back home. Over time, I've made new memories here, and Halifax feels like my second home.
I'd love to share a few of my favorite places and things to do in Halifax if you're looking to study, stroll or eat.
I was always hesitant to try new cuisines, but when my friend convinced me to try sushi, I fell in love with it and Japanese cuisine. Sushi Jet down on South Park Street has my heart with its ambiance, food presentation, and kind staff, and to top it all off, they have an all-you-can-eat option with delicious sushi and more for an affordable price!
If you're looking for a place to run outside or even take a stroll, I highly recommend Point Pleasant Park, which is perfect for listening to music with a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean. Another place about 12km away from Halifax is Herring Cove, which I finally visited during the reading week right before sunset. The short walk from the bus stop to the cove was so serene, and I was in awe watching the waves roll in, sitting by the rocks.
I'm always looking for cafes with decadent pastries that I can also study in, and one of my favorites is Creamy Rainbow, close to Park Lane, which has the cutest and most flavorful macarons and pastries. They have a calm ambiance making it a perfect spot to get some work done.
If you're in the mood to go biking, rollerblading, or roller-skating outdoors during the summer or ice skating in the winter, do check out the Emera Oval, which is the largest outdoor, artificially refrigerated ice surface East of Quebec City. They offer free equipment rentals and offer skate and speed skate programs.
Hello everyone! My name is Cameron Perfitt, and I am a happy human representative this year. I am halfway through my third year at Dalhousie, pursuing a double major in Sustainability and International Development Studies. While this degree has taught me so many applicable aspects of how to be more sustainable in various interconnected ways, this knowledge has also come with an unfortunate side effect of being constantly surrounded by the need for more sustainable practices; eco-anxiety.
Eco-anxiety is generally a form of anxiety surrounding the health of our environment and the adverse consequences of climate change, which have the power to alter our way of life drastically. While very nice, this specific form of anxiety in which has been given a lot more research in research years and is becoming an ever-important topic, especially for young people being exposed to the climate crisis and its real-world effect on our lives, whether that be through entering into the environmental sector for the first time, or even just scrolling through Instagram and news articles and seeing the worsening natural disasters around the world, including Hurricane Fiona in which happened last month.
While I was fascinated and excited to learn about climate change and sustainability in a holistic way that I had not been taught in high school, I felt a lingering message: "It's up to me to fix climate change, and time is running out." With this renewed and heightened sense of climate anxiety, I changed every aspect of my life drastically. I became involved in activist groups, changed everything I purchased to zero waste, and ate only local, sustainable, and plant-based foods. However, mid-way through the second semester, I began to feel intensely burned out, like I was sacrificing my mental health and energy for the climate crisis, which only seemed to be worsening with our politicians continuing their business as usual. There must be a way to feel that I am making a tangible difference without completely exhausting my mental resources and seeking to do just that. I realized that something had to change.
I started talking to various friends within my sustainability and international development studies classes. As a result, I found comfort in knowing I wasn't alone in feeling this way, using these conversations to release the feelings I had bottled up, and finding common ground with my friends. These conversations made me realize that having a sense of community and support was the best remedy to combat these intense feelings of eco-anxiety while also making me feel, for once, it was not just an uphill battle that I had to face alone. In the second semester of the first year, I began regaining my desire for organizing and activism.
I eventually joined the local campus group, Dives Dal group, joining their weekly meetings, and gaining a new perspective on effective activism. This time, I was able to, but this time with a more cognisant view which showed me that it is essential to balance caring for a climate change action and letting it consume you. I began finding a passion for climate action and making a difference in a cause I care about deeply with a team that is equally as passionate and, most importantly, equally understands the importance of stepping back and taking time for yourself when needed.
Another meaningful way I could reignite my passion for climate justice in a healthy and balanced way was through my reconnection to nature. As a kid, my family was very outdoorsy, often going on weekend camping trips and making time every day to spend some time walking around the nearby trails around my home. As I grew older and sports and school began to take precedence, I started spending more time outside and inside gyms, cars and libraries. While I was able to get by this way in high school, University I realized the importance of getting out. Following my burnout in my first year, I was determined to point to a pleasant park and appreciated the smell of the trees and the ocean air and how that was able to add a sense of renewal, focus and gratitude for everything in my life. While temporarily relieving my stress from study and paper writing, it also reminded me of what is at stake if we fail to protect and preserve our environment and how those impacts would affect us.
Hello, my name is Allie Morrison and I am going into my second year of Kinesiology at Dalhousie . I have recently joined the Happy Human Project in the spring as a Happy Human Rep.
As we know, the past couple of years have been a very stressful and challenging time due to Covid lockdowns and the inability to see your friends, family, etc.
I was greatly affected by this and noticed I was not enjoying my time in lockdown and was very unhappy. However, little did I know, this was an eye opening experience. I realized although we can’t see each other, we always have the outdoors. My family and I would make an effort to go for local hikes. We enjoyed this free time together that we may not have had otherwise. After restrictions were loosened we went on hikes around the province. There are many beautiful places in Nova Scotia and it really gave me the chance to realize how amazing this province is.
This really helped me get through the stress of Covid lockdowns. It also made me realize that this is a great way to cope with all of life’s circumstances. Being outdoors is a great way to reset your mind. I carried this on throughout university, however, it is much more challenging to go on hikes while busy at school. I decided to try and be active and get outside or go to the gym when I could because this was a great way to take a break from school and relieve the stress and pressures of studying.
Although lockdowns were awful it gave me time to reflect and realize what things I took for granted. Now I’d love to share these trails and adventures with my friends so they can have the same experience as well.
My name is Lexie Gallant and I’m a happy human rep going into my fourth year at Dalhousie. I’m taking psych, French, and law/justice/society. My journey with schooling has always been slightly interesting. Elementary school was not great for me in terms of actual content that I managed to absorb. I vividly remember being put in groups that needed extra help with subjects like math and science. By the time I reached middle school, things were looking better. I started to blend in a bit, and by high school I was close to the top of my class in everything but math. I thought that the explanation for this shift was an increased interest in school, however, in eleventh grade chemistry, my teacher asked me a question that genuinely changed my entire worldview.
The first unit we had done in chem was theory based, I remember studying and doing well on the test. The next unit, on the other hand, was math based. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t wrap my head around the content. I studied for hours and performed poorly on the test. I stayed late after class that day to try and explain myself. I didn’t want him to think that I just stopped putting in effort halfway through the semester. Before I could even say anything to him, he asked me if I had ever heard of a condition called dyscalculia. I looked at him blankly, so he began to explain. He said that it’s like dyslexia, but math based. This was a very basic and slightly inaccurate definition of the term, but it was also my first time hearing that word spoken.
I got home that night and began frantically googling everything about this term. I was shocked; everything described me perfectly. Though it was scary to see something that could be different about me, it was also relieving, I finally had what I thought was an explanation for why I tried so hard, but sometimes just couldn’t succeed. I mentioned it to my parents, and they thought it would be worthwhile to get me tested. Finally, I had a diagnosis, and broke down crying when I was told. Everyone thought I was sad, but I didn’t know how to explain that I was just so relieved to understand what was different about me.
Since then, not much has changed. I still struggle with anything math-based along with other tasks related to this disability, such as judging speed or time. However, knowing that there is something different about me allows me to be more patient with myself. It has also helped me develop strategies for everyday life. For example, I work as a server and sometimes I must handle a lot of cash. Even though it is possible for me to make change at the table, I always let myself step away to a server station. That way I don’t have the anxiety of trying to do math in my head in front of other people. I know now that rushing to figure it out is more likely to lead to a mistake than taking the time to walk away is.
Though this learning disability affects me every day, it is so much easier to live life being patient with myself instead of just frustrated. University poses a lot of challenges for people with learning disabilities, including the lack of accountability and structure. Compared to high school, University gives you full freedom and when you struggle to learn and engage already, it can be hard to keep motivated. I’ve found that dedicating time to a planner and dedicating time to doing things other than school is what helps me. Yet, I’ve nowhere near figured it out completely. The only piece of advice I would give, is to continue trying to find something that motivates you as an individual. And remember, you can’t always see what someone is struggling with, so just be kind!
Hello there! My name is Sare Yorukoglu, and I am a part of the Happy Human Project team this year as a representative. I will be completing my fourth year in BSc Psychology with a certificate program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This past year, I got diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder. As clueless as I was, COVID-19 has given me the chance to learn more about myself. Therefore, for those who might feel a little lost, I would like to share a story of how anxiety has impacted my life as an international student.
I come from a coastal city in Turkey called Antalya. It is a lovely place to go for vacation during summer as the weather is always warm here! When I was 15, my high school introduced me to Nova Scotia International Student Program. I was super invested in the idea of going abroad and learning about Canadian culture. After writing exams and taking part in interviews, I got selected for the program. In a chaotic process, I packed all my stuff (especially winter clothes) to travel to
Windsor, Nova Scotia. I was assigned to stay with a lovely host family for a year and attend grade 10 in a local high school.
During the experience I had in a year, I got the chance to meet a lot of Canadian and international students and familiarize myself with its culture. I loved it so much that I decided to complete my high school in Windsor while staying with my Canadian family. Since then, I get to visit my family back in Turkey once a year for two months. Even though I miss them
and back home, I felt like I found where I was meant to be in Canada.
After I completed high school, I got accepted into Dalhousie and moved into the Risley hall during my first year. Living in residence and meeting my friends was amazing. Although during my years of studies, I have faced some issues that were personal to me. For instance, as an international student, I was feeling lost. At some point, I felt like I didn't have a certain identity where I wasn't enough Canadian to live in Canada while not feeling enough Turkish to live in Turkey. This feeling
especially took place during the challenging times of COVID-19. Because of the pandemic, I felt like simple interactions with people were the end of the world, and I didn't know what to do. There was also this constant fear of not ever being able to go back home, or if I would, I would never be able to come back to my home in Halifax.
Of course, these thoughts were not colorful, but I'm glad that I lived through them. Even though the isolation of covid was quite scary, it also allowed me to look into my life and decide on what is the best for me. Accepting my situation was the biggest first step for me. When I decided to reach for help and diagnosis, my friend group and people in the community were all so supportive. Now that I am aware of the presence of my anxiety, I feel more comfortable talking about it to others and it has become easier to live with.
Life is not all rainbows and sunshine, and that is okay! It's okay to feel down and exhausted sometimes. What's important is to know that these feelings are normal to have, and there might be a lot of people who might feel the same way as you. We all come from unique backgrounds, and I believe that's what makes this community great. Always keep in mind that you are not in this alone, and we are here for each other! Happy Human Project :)
My name is William Flood. I am a second-year representative and part of the outreach team here at Happy Human Project. I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 12 years old. ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which means studying and paying attention in class etc., is extremely difficult specifically for me. ADHD shows itself differently for different people, and this bulletin only covers my experiences with ADHD. For as long as I can remember, I have always told myself that I only had issues with school and focusing in class, and I never learned that I was officially diagnosed with ADHD until my senior year of high school. My mom, in my opinion, didn’t want me to think that I was at a disadvantage compared to others at my school by telling me I had ADHD when I was too young to understand what it meant, so she told me I had issues focusing.
Some of my friends describe my kind of ADHD as "not too bad"; however, it still comes with challenges that I am honestly still working on overcoming. These challenges include becoming highly distracted by the slightest distraction; for example, if I wanted to focus on any academic task, I would require to be in a space where I had no distractions, which extend to any outdoor noises, even the sound of anything action could distract me to the points where I had been off the task for over an hour. I found that the easiest way for me not to be distracted by these elements is to listen to music extremely loud to the point where I cannot hear any distractions. Unfortunately, this trick tends to blur my memory, making it increasingly challenging to retain and recall information learned while listening to music.
Therefore I also struggle with verbal learning; the famous “in one ear and out the other” line is very serious in my scenario. The best way for me to retain information, thankfully, is by writing notes in class. I was not the student who would take in-class notes throughout high school. Fortunately, I still performed very well in all my types. This ability to not take notes did not transfer to University as I had hoped because the amount of information was significantly more. For the first term of University, I seriously struggled to find what worked for me to study, and it took me serval months to truly see the most efficient ways to research and get my assignments done.
The benefit of ADHD is that it's straightforward to move on from a bad grade or missed assignment and focus on the next task because it's a healthy distraction to move on to the next project. Overall having ADHD is challenging in the education industry and trying to learn; however, there is always a way to find ways or tricks to help yourself succeed. Most importantly, no matter who you are and if you have any disabilities that make life more challenging, remember always to stay positive and be happy!
Hi! My name is Meg Maxner, and this is my first year being a part of Happy Human Project! I am a Happy Human Rep and am going into my second year of Commerce at Dal.
The summer of 2020 I joined my hometown’s CrossFit gym, Northern Grit Fitness, in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Over the years of being a member at this gym I have developed new relationships with different people across my community that I would not have had the opportunity to meet if I had not joined this gym family.
I joined the local CrossFit gym, North Endurance, in Halifax last fall during my first semester of university. Coming from such an amazing CrossFit community at home, I thought my experience was unique to Northern Grit Fitness, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my new gym had the same environment as my one at home. Welcoming people and faces make CrossFit one of my favourite things.
Everyone goes to the gym to get better, and at CrossFit everyone wants everyone to get better. Whether that’s getting a new personal best on a lift, finally getting your first pull up, or running faster than you did the week before, every member at my gym is proud to see everyone succeed. The environment of a CrossFit gym is what keeps me coming back every week.
I have learned that CrossFit brings a range of people of all different ages and abilities, but with one common goal: to better themselves. Bettering their lifestyles, or their fitness, or to create new relationships throughout their community. CrossFit is a building block to community.
University can be tough for many individuals, living alone and managing school can easily cause burnout in many individuals. As my nursing program requires school in the summers, I first found it overwhelming and quickly began getting burnt out due to the heavy load of schoolwork and the consistency of my classes. Trying to get through feeling burnout without changing your routine is impossible and eventually I learned that I thought for my first article I would help some of you!
Firstly, recognizing burnout and monitoring your stress levels according to different tasks. More stressful tasks may require being broken up and completed in sections to reduce stress on the mind.
Support networks are essential when dealing with stress and burnout. Having a family member, roommate, friend, etc. To help work through your feelings and destress after a long day is very helpful.
Setting up a proper ratio of studying and rest is essential, I most commonly use the Pomodoro technique which entails 25 minutes of studying followed with a 5-minute break. Ensuring at-least 8 hours of sleep to rest the brain.
Most of all knowing when you need guidance and rest and acting in that urge is so important. We cannot do our best when we are not at our best. The highlight of this post is to make time for yourself and trust your body when it tells you it needs a break!