C/O Julia Ford

Transforming Mac: a week aimed at enabling trans students to network and heal.

To commemorate Trans Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, McMaster Women and Gender Equity Network dedicated itself to organizing Transforming Mac, an annual weeklong series of events dedicated to giving trans Marauders a space just for them. Intended to provide opportunities for trans students to create community and connections on campus, there are a variety of Zoom events and ways to engage. Given that emotionally supporting gender marginalized folks by providing them with closed spaces and further resources is one of WGEN’s primary mandates, WGEN views Transforming Mac to be an event where trans folks feel normal connecting with others who share similar intersections of identity.  

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Running for over five years at McMaster University, Transforming Mac is more pertinent than ever in 2021, a year which proved to be one of the deadliest on record for violence and hate crimes committed against trans individuals across North America prior to December.  

The events for Transforming Mac include a vigil, a community group discussion on Nov. 20 which marks Trans Day of Remembrance in Canada and closed spaces for trans folks to watch movies, make art and engage in self-care together.  

Centering normalcy is greatly emphasized in Transforming Mac’s events, where existence of oneself without constant explanation and advocacy is framed to be an empowering choice in and of itself.  

Julia Ford, the assistant director of WGEN, attests to the importance of WGEN maintaining its tradition of hosting Transforming Mac despite the restrictions placed on gathering capacities. 

“It’s really important to provide spaces where trans people can feel safe because the broader world unfortunately does not offer trans folks that chance to exist normally,” explained Ford.  

Transforming Mac is characterized by its offering of a multitude of safe and closed spaces, referring to events where only individuals of a specific identity can attend. Alongside closed spaces for only trans folks, there are also spaces specifically for racialized trans folks.  

Namely, the purpose of closed spaces is such that individuals who attend these spaces do not feel the need to explain their identities. It is important to note that Transforming Mac is not a week only for education or remembrance, but a week of moving forward and acknowledgement for trans students on campus. Transforming Mac serves to help trans folks feel safer. Trans activism, while certainly crucial in its own right, is allowed to coexist with Transforming Mac’s main priority of providing trans folks with the opportunity to build community without becoming the center focus.  

“We have received really positive feedback from the broader McMaster community about Transforming Mac. [In] our more educational oriented events in the past, many folks were intimidated by the proper terminology to use and our events really helped to break some of this hesitation to learn more about trans issues,” explained Ford.  

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WGEN attempts to ensure it does not speak over trans voices when organizing events or closed functions and welcomes collaboration with trans organizers in an effort to center trans voices with planning respectful and inclusive events.  

Attendees are not required to participate in any specific way and the events are designed to allow folks to engage in such a way that is safe and comfortable for them. Encouraging organic conversations and having an actively monitored chat and texting functions for attendees who may not be able to speak freely are ways the organizers of Transforming Mac ensured comfort and safety.

“We as organizers have no set expectations for an event and it is of [the] utmost importance that attendees are able to come to the event and enjoy it on their own terms [and] not by any requirements we put in place,” explained Ford.  

Transforming Mac did not measure its success by the quantity of attendees, but rather the quality of the conversations fostered over the week. Additionally, the organizers of Transforming Mac wanted to ensure students do not feel pressured to publicly engage with the week and to freely use the resources offered. 

“Being situated online in accordance with COVID restrictions has its advantages and disadvantages. It is good for individuals who wish to remain anonymous and is more accessible for folks who are still not ready to identify themselves. Unfortunately, not everybody may not be able to speak freely online,” explained Ford.  

Rija Khan, the WGEN resources coordinator helped organize Transforming Mac alongside the Queer and Trans Club of Color by overseeing the distribution of resources for each event. As a representative of WGEN, Khan is also trained to provide peer support for individuals who may require it.

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“Alongside support resources, we provide gender affirming resources such as binders, packers and sanitary items at certain events. We also have a library I oversee and catalog,” explained Khan.  

It was significant to have WGEN representatives at Transforming Mac as it encapsulated WGEN’s belief in catering its services to all genders and oppressed individuals and that is not only limited to cisgender women. The involvement of trans individuals of colour at Transforming Mac served to prevent conversations about gender, identity and the trans experience only centering around white trans folks, whose experiences often greatly differ. 

Racialized queer folks must feel safe to speak about their lives without being judged or feeling pressured to revisit and reexplain their life experiences which may often be traumatic. Addressing shared experiences was a way to foster self-healing and increased self-awareness for Transforming Mac attendees.  

“Growing up without queer friends, I find that Transforming Mac is to an extent educational because I was able to learn lots from the anecdotal and lived experiences of others. It allowed me to get to know myself better too,” explained Khan.  

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Transforming Mac has undergone an evolution since its existence. From education to remembrance to a space for community, it will continue to occupy a place at McMaster where it will keep transitioning to accommodate the changing needs for trans McMaster students.  

Travis Nguyen/Photo Editor

With three wins under their belt, the men’s basketball team has set their goals high

While many Canadian University teams have needed time to get back into the swing of things after a year off from playing, the Marauders Men’s basketball team has found themselves in the midst of a four game winning streak, starting the season blazing hot. 

With their most recent win against the Algoma Thunderbirds on Nov. 19, the Marauders have found themselves sitting in second place with a four and one record, with their lone loss finishing with a one point spread.

Sefa Otchere, a third-year guard for the team, spoke about the team’s recent performance and the success they’ve had over the last stretch of game. In an interview Otchere discussed an event relating to an injury affecting a member of the team, emphasizing the optimism the team has regarding their future. 

“I feel very good about the team's performance. I still feel like we have a lot more to go because right now we don’t have our full team. Some people are injured, but hopefully by the second half of the season we can get them back,” said Otchere

Discussing his own performance, Otchere felt that he could’ve played better for his team, despite averaging a relatively strong 10.4 points, 5 rebounds and 1.4 steals while shooting to a 41.9% field goal and an 84.6% free throw. 

“Subpar honestly. I feel like I can do better to help the team win more. I feel like I can be better and hopefully I can pick it up a little bit in our last two games in Algoma and pick it up in the second half as well,” explained Otchere. 

As he had hoped, he did pick it up in their first game against Algoma, extending their winning streak to four after an 18-point victory. Otchere scored 15 points, good for third most on the team, while hitting all his free throws, grabbing five boards and raking up three steals. 

With so much time off from their previous season, it’s a challenge for teams to start themselves up again so quickly. Otchere credits the team’s success to their high standards and coach, Patrick Tatham.

“Training-wise, we pushed each other. We worked hard and worked with a common goal of getting to nationals. I think with that goal in mind we came in as a collective unit. Since Sept. 1, since [coach Patrick Tatham] came back from [coaching] team Canada we’ve all had the same goal: one mind, one body [and] one big family just working together,” said Otchere.

With a significant portion of their schedule still ahead of them, the team will look to continue their success down the stretch and into the new year. After completing their final game of 2021 against the Thunderbirds on Nov. 20, the team won’t see the court again until Jan. 12, 2022, when they will return for 10 more games leading up to the playoffs. 

With championship aspirations on their mind, they will have a real opportunity to take the crown if they can keep up their recent performance and continue closing out important games into the new year. 

C/O Cotton Factory

Light the Night market brightening the winter season for artists and community members alike

Artists have been among those particularly hard hit by the pandemic, having limited to no opportunities to exhibit their work as well as significantly reduced income. In recent months, such opportunities are increasing but the uncertainty of the pandemic is still taking a toll. The Cotton Factory’s second annual Light the Night event is brightening the winter season and bringing some joy to the community while also supporting local artists and businesses.

Located in Hamilton’s industrial district and formerly a cotton mill, The Cotton Factory is now home to artist studios, the coworking space, CoWork, and a number of community events and workshop spaces.

Night markets, featuring various local artists, performers and vendors, are a particularly unique staple of the Cotton Factor, though the pandemic has made such events more difficult. Last year at this time, the provincial lockdown didn’t even allow for a traditional market.

In place of a traditional market, the team at the Cotton Factory held Light the Night and transformed the building into an illumination installation piece. They gathered donations from the community and through installation pieces, light exhibitions and projection art, they created a drive through exhibition for the community for three days in early Dec. 2020. 

“It was pretty magical,” said Annette Paiement, curator of the Cotton Factory.

This year the Cotton Factory will host Light the Night, a night market, on Dec. 4, 2021 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Similar to last year, the event will feature illumination and projection art, but there will also be two markets where many local artists and businesses will have booths.

It will take place inside and outside, with the entire first floor of the building being open, and the Cotton Factory will also be following provincial public health guidelines, requiring masking and checking vaccination status at the door. 

At its core, Light the Night is about supporting local, particularly local artists.

“This is really to feature them. It's been a long two years where many artists haven't been able to perform, they haven't been able to sell work, they haven't been able to showcase work because the galleries have also been closed so this provides an opportunity for them,” explained Paiement.

Paiement also noted how excited the artists are for the event. Many also participated in the Cotton Factory’s recent fall market in October and are eager for another opportunity to celebrate and come together as a community. 

Community is a crucial part of the holiday season. Given how difficult these last few years have been for everyone, an opportunity to gather and celebrate safely is a welcome one, not just for artists but also for the entire community.

“I'm hoping that if people get out of the house for the first time in a few years it'll bring a little bit of joy — a little bit more joy — back into their life. I think we need community and we need interaction with people and I think it's been a really tough two years for people, so I'm hoping it brings light into their hearts,” said Paiement.

C/O Heidi Fin, Unsplash

Save a little more and spend a little less, your OSAP savings will thank you

Just hear those sale signs jingling, ring ting tingling too. Come on, it’s lovely weather for a day out shopping with you! The holidays are just around the corner, clearly indicated by the new red and green Starbucks cups, ridiculously gigantic Christmas trees in store-fronts and most important of all, the “door-crashing” sales in shopping malls. 

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day, though surprising how they came to be when you think about it, effectively offer North America with excuses to splurge on clothing, toys and other items that they “might use.” 

It’s interesting because, throughout the year, it is easy to witness many folks treading carefully with regards to their spending habits but the holiday season will have you whole-heartedly believing that emptying out your savings account is the best way to go. 

You can’t really blame the general public though, can you? I mean, corporations do quite a good job of reeling in the customers. How are we expected to walk away from Caramel Brulée lattes, red flannel pyjamas and Winter Candy Apple candles? 

For most of the developed world, these select holiday items are the prime marker for enjoying the holiday season. It’s just not Christmas without going on a shopping spree for yourself and the people that made it onto your gift list. 

Multinational corporations exploit the vulnerability of consumers at this time and have spectacularly transformed the ability to cause confusion between necessity and desire into a fine art. This often causes individuals to get lost in the excitement of it all and forget to pay any mind to the negative effects consumerism can entail. 

Before we get into that though, what exactly is consumerism? 

If you haven’t guessed it already, consumerism is essentially the purchasing of market goods and resources. More importantly, it’s a technique used by capitalist societies where suppliers are ever-producing to meet the demands of the general public, or the consumers. 

It is much more prevalent in Western societies where there is often codependency between our personal identities and the items that we purchase. 

In fact, according to economists, the driving force behind the steady increase of consumerism is the phenomenon of Americanization, otherwise known as the ‘manipulation of preferences’. It is important to note, however, that the market seldom invents new desires — they simply give existing desires a new form to make them more appealing. 

This phenomenon effectively feeds into consumerism and creates an extreme version of itself: hyperconsumerism

A variety of different factors, including the holiday season, can help normalize the dangers of consuming beyond what we need while ignoring the mental, physical and environmental effects. For large corporations, hyperconsumerism comes at the cost of violating workers’ rights since these capitalist markets often treat human rights infractions as collateral damage. 

It also goes without saying that, as the demands for consumer products increase, so does the need to produce more and this inevitably leads to an increase in pollutant emissions, exploitation of natural resources and accelerated climate change. 

Did you know that the wealthiest 10 per cent are responsible for consuming 59 per cent of the world’s resources? Ironically, they are not the ones experiencing the effects of climate change; it’s the bottom half of the population that is affected.

Now, I can’t possibly advise you to ditch the shopping malls and ignore Black Friday Sales altogether. Most individuals will invest time in figuring out a solution that allows them to continue consuming at the same rate while dodging the effects that hyperconsumerism has. 

Ethical consumerism calls upon the consumer to critically analyze their favourite brands and products before making a purchase. However, it’s no secret that purchasing from ethical brands can be expensive and is not a solution that’s accessible to everyone. 

Before making a purchase, consider its versatility, quality and whether it will stick with you in the long run. Limit impulsive SHEIN haul orders to conform with trends and instead look for basic clothing items that offer more flexibility. 

If you want wide-legged jeans, go for it — just make sure they’ll last and you don’t relieve the store of its entire denim section. I want them too. 

Travis Nguyen/Photo Editor

Shorter days and longer nights from daylights savings have mental and physical effects 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the colder seasons. Halloween, Christmas, doing winter festivities, the snow and much more. But I do not like when it’s pitch black outside by 5 p.m. and the day that felt as though it just started is already done.

It confuses me because, although I’ll still have classes, meetings or work after the sun sets, it becomes hard for my brain to wrap around the notion that I’ll be working for hours in complete darkness. 

We may not truly even realize it, but we do rely on the sun for a lot. When it comes to the simplicities of aiding our health, the sun is a great mood booster and important for your physical health as a whole.

Light is the most powerful regulator of our internal clock, known as our circadian rhythm. In fact, some people may not even adjust to the time change after several months. We also rely on the sun everyday without even knowing.

We use it as a way to tell time in our day-to-day lives. It nurtures the food and plants that we need, it keeps our ecosystems growing and it keeps our earth moving. With these shorter and colder days, we see the sun less, which has large effects on us both physically and mentally

The shorter and colder days can also cause depression to increase in prevalence. The darkness and coldness limits how often we go out and we can begin to feel isolated. As university students, it becomes difficult for many to have the motivation to do work when it feels as though it is night-time and one should be unwinding instead. 

This is where seasonal affective disorder comes in, also known as seasonal depression or the winter blues. One way to recognize the symptoms of SAD is if you feel normal during spring and summer, then feel drained with your energy and mood as days get shorter during winter, almost like you want to hibernate

As the semester is either ending or a new one is starting at this time of the year, our stress is at its peak and the effects of daylight savings can have immense effects on us physically as well.

The lack of sunlight can cause cluster headaches that can cause pain for days or weeks on end. If you’re not getting enough sleep during this transition, this can lead to increased levels of a hormone called ghrelin which regulates hunger and may cause an increase in appetite. 

It is important that you keep your mental health in check and professionals recommend taking Vitamin D supplements during this time, seeking help if you need it, eating healthier and maintaining some kind of physical activity during the cold months. 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, focusing on one’s self and still taking it easy will help immensely. It is a difficult shift for many, but attempting to balance everything in a healthy way can improve one’s physical and mental health during these cold months.

Jessica Yang/Production Assistant

Time off work doesn’t always mean a perfect break for professors

For many people, the holidays have always been something to look forward to. For students, this means time away from school and for others, it can mean time away from work. 

This year, at McMaster University, student examinations end officially on Dec. 22, 2021, with winter classes beginning on Jan. 10, 2022. While professors technically have the same time limits when it comes to class dismissals, they spend a large majority of break bringing their courses to fruition. 

Courses often require a lot of planning leading up to the first class, but the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in professors planning for online classes since March of 2020. 

Now, for the upcoming winter semester in 2022, there is going to be a transition to an almost entirely in-person learning format, which can mean a shift in planning for professors yet again. What this planning looks like will differ depending on the course. 

Joe Kim, an associate professor at McMaster under the department of psychology, neuroscience and behaviour, spoke about how the IntroPsych team at McMaster had already had a relatively hybrid learning style prior to the pandemic as they were using virtual modules. Kim explained that planning for the upcoming semester was close to completion. 

Krista Howarth, an assistant professor at McMaster under the department of kinesiology, explained that, although a large majority of her course planning had been completed, there were still things like the Avenue course shell that needed to be activated and then formatted. 

To Howarth, the way her course appears on Avenue is important, as it is an essential means of communication to her students. She talked about how it would have been nicer to have a longer winter break so she can better prepare for the winter semester.

“I do wish there was more time between term one and term two and even last year, there was a survey that went around and [asked], ‘Would you guys mind if we sort of started the term later this year?’ to give everyone more time. Not just the students, but also [so that] the faculty have more time to get ready for term two,” said Howarth.

“I do wish there was more time between term one and term two and even last year, there was a survey that went around and [asked], ‘Would you guys mind if we sort of started the term later this year?’ to give everyone more time. Not just the students, but also [so that] the faculty have more time to get ready for term two,”

Krista Howarth, Assistant Professor

Though professors spend time planning, many also try to balance spending time with family and friends over the holidays. 

For Kim, the holidays are a chance to be closer with his family. He talked about the variety of games they play, whether that be Sorry!, Dominoes, Clues or Jenga. He also talked about the importance of good food, exercising and binge watching television shows to help create a relaxing break.

“The holidays means the end of semester, so it is a chance to rest, regenerate and spend a lot of time with family. For my daughter, I think she just loves the holidays because everyone is together in the same house so we have time for lots of games,” said Kim.

“The holidays means the end of semester, so it is a chance to rest, regenerate and spend a lot of time with family. For my daughter, I think she just loves the holidays because everyone is together in the same house so we have time for lots of games,”

Joe Kim, Assistant Professor

Howarth also spoke about how excited she is for the upcoming holidays. 

It’s a hard earned break that she always looks forward to because she gets time to spend with her family. Her family loves to do puzzles together as she said it was their own form of relaxation. 

Howarth also discussed how few days she actually takes off during the winter, spending the rest of the days working towards the first day of winter semester.

“I don’t often get to spend as much time as I would’ve liked over the holidays with my family, [but] at least I do get to take a little bit of time off to do some things with my kids and my other family members . . . Most years I take off Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing day and I’ll spend that at my parents’ house. I go with my kids and we just hang out there and do our typical Christmas celebrations,” said Howarth.

“I don’t often get to spend as much time as I would’ve liked over the holidays with my family, [but] at least I do get to take a little bit of time off to do some things with my kids and my other family members,"

Krista Howarth, Assistant Professor

Both Kim and Howarth shared advice for students on how to have a balanced winter break. They stressed the importance of how taking a break is essential to wellbeing. 

Kim shared how it is good to be productive, but that there are realistic ways to achieve this. He suggested making a list of things one hopes to finish during the break and to ensure that they are realistic goals.

Kim shared how it is good to be productive, but that there are realistic ways to achieve this. He suggested making a list of things one hopes to finish during the break and to ensure that they are realistic goals.

The upcoming break is a much needed holiday for not only students but also professors. Many use this time to spend quality time with their families. Though rest is their main goal, many professors still find themselves spending a large majority of their break planning for the next teaching semester.

C/O Jessica Yang/Production Assistant

During a sporting season athletes are always in action, but what do they do during holidays?

As the winter break slowly approaches, there is more anticipation for the holidays than before. Not only do students get a good three week break from their studies, but student athletes also get a chance to resort to activities other than their actual varsity duties. 

One may wonder, what do student athletes do once their season finishes and the holidays approach? Do they work on recovery, do they try out new activities or do they simply sit back and enjoy their time off?

Focusing specifically on the men's varsity baseball team, they have had a successful season within the Ontario University Athletics competition, finishing in second place at the final OUA championships in Ajax. 

Magnus Hanson, a first-year baseball team member, expressed dissatisfaction at not winning the final tournament.

“This season had ups and downs. We had a very tough incident at one of our games that our players are still recovering from, but we did make it to the OUA finals which is a good achievement. The team and I are still not satisfied. We wanted to win the whole thing and show the baseball community that we mean business,” said Hanson. 

On the subject of holiday season and the team’s direction after the season, Hanson described what he is up to and how the team spends their time during the winter break. 

“For this Christmas break, we will all have to undergo a workout program. It is actually run by one of our senior players who is a trainer at the pulse and is obviously good at what he is doing. The work out program consists of a couple hours of a training program on a daily basis and lasts up until [New Year’s Day]. [After Jan. 1], the rest of the holiday is a recovery period,” said Hanson. 

"The work out program consists of a couple hours of a training program on a daily basis and lasts up until [New Year’s Day]. [After Jan. 1], the rest of the holiday is a recovery period."

Magnus Hanson, Baseball Team Outfielder

Hanson also mentioned that his time will be spent in his home province of British Columbia, where he will return for the winter break. 

“For the holidays, I'll be back in British Columbia with my family. However, I will still need to undergo the workout program that the baseball team requires. After the workout program ends, I will practice with my baseball team to keep in shape. As an athlete, it is vital for me to do my best to keep my form up even during the off season,” explained Hanson. 

Finally, Hanson added what the team is expecting for the rest of the off season, even beyond the holiday break.

“The rest of the season will consist of us playing in a soccer pitch bubble. Although it is not a baseball field, we will still get the opportunity to practice on turf during the winter, which is vital,” said Hanson. 

Although many sports seasons have ended leading into the time off over the winter, it is evident that athletes haven’t finished their business of keeping in shape. Far from it, they consistently practice during the off season to keep their form up.

C/O Starlight Canada

Starlight Canada’s new initiative to cheer up hospitalized children over the holidays

Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada is a nonprofit organization that helps hospitalized children and their families. The organization has been running for more than thirty years, with the ultimate goal of bringing joy to sick children. 

Brian Bringolf, CEO of Starlight Canada, explained that hospitalized children can receive support from Starlight Canada from the time they are admitted into the hospital to after they have been discharged. 

When children are first admitted, they are given Admit Kits from Starlight Canada, which contain age-appropriate toys, writing materials and toiletries. Throughout their hospitalization, Starlight Canada continues to provide toys and activities. Once children are discharged from the hospital, Starlight Canada also holds exciting monthly activities through their Great Escapes program.

“We're dedicated to brightening the lives of seriously ill children and their families,” said Bringolf. 

“We're dedicated to brightening the lives of seriously ill children and their families.”

Brian Bringolf, CEO of Starlight Canada

This year, for the holiday season, Starlight Canada is delivering 48 Fun Centers to hospitals across Canada. Fun Centers, according to Bringolf, are brightly-coloured mobile entertainment units, each one featuring a flatscreen television and a Nintendo Switch preloaded with games. 

The McMaster Children’s Hospital is one of the hospitals receiving a donation from Starlight Canada. According to Bringolf, the Fun Center at McMaster Children’s Hospital is sponsored by Air Canada.

C/O Starlight Canada

“They can go on. They can play games. They can be distracted. They have these little headphones that they put on and they can play with their friends that are at home. They can visit mom and dad with these games,” said Bringolf. 

“They can go on. They can play games. They can be distracted. They have these little headphones that they put on and they can play with their friends that are at home. They can visit mom and dad with these games.”

Brian Bringolf, CEO of Starlight Canada

Bringolf explained that when children use the Fun Centers to distract themselves from their illness, this helps them cope with pain. Bringolf cited well-known filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s involvement with Starlight Canada as being crucial to their use of distraction therapy. 

“The premise [of distraction therapy is] that when you're distracted from pain, when you get distracted from your illness, there's less pain medication required. And there's a whole science behind this,” said Bringolf.

Bringolf explained that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitalized children have not been able to receive the same level of support or distraction. Although restrictions are now loosening, children were isolated in their rooms for much of the pandemic, with family members unable to visit. Even some of the supports offered by Starlight Canada, such as entertainment rooms known as Starlight Fun Rooms, were shut down for the pandemic. 

In response to this, Starlight Canada launched numerous virtual programs, such as crafts and bingo games. 

“We did still try to be there for them,” said Bringolf. 

“We did still try to be there for them.”

Brian Bringolf, CEO of Starlight Canada

Bringolf explained that Starlight Canada is constantly growing and changing, based on what kind of support is needed by hospitalized children. 

“I always say that Starlight Canada is not what we were five years ago and we're not today what we will be in five years. We continue to evolve with the needs of the kids,” said Bringolf.

This holiday season is Starlight Canada’s first time bringing Fun Centers to hospitals. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the past year especially challenging for hospitalized children, but Starlight Canada looks forward to brightening up their holiday season.

C/O Travis Nguyen

While the holiday season may be welcomed, the extreme shift to total relaxation can cause us to “crash”

By: Ardena Bašić, Contributor

The holiday season is often a welcomed time off for many, especially students who face their exams period immediately prior to the break. However, given that we are exceptionally busy beforehand, the decrease or change in responsibilities can be a shock to our system. 

Although we certainly deserve the rest after busy and stressful times, we must balance that with different endeavours and activities to ensure that we are not putting ourselves in significantly contrasting environments. Such an approach will allow us to get the most out of the holiday break and return to school and work with a renewed sense of motivation. 

Many individuals become acclimated to such high levels of productivity, particularly students who must balance their school work, extracurriculars and other endeavours on top of maintaining their health and social lives. In the moment, we often fail to realize how much of our energy is coming from the sheer adrenaline of all our obligations, likely alongside copious amounts of caffeine. 

Thus, when we take a break from such a hectic lifestyle, the drastic drop in our stressors often leave us feeling drained and lethargic, a phenomenon often called ‘adrenal fatigue.’ In fact, going from one extreme to another — overworking to completely resting — could leave us feeling worse off. 

Thus, when we take a break from such a hectic lifestyle, the drastic drop in our stressors often leave us feeling drained and lethargic, a phenomenon often called ‘adrenal fatigue.’ In fact, going from one extreme to another — overworking to completely resting — could leave us feeling worse off. 

Ardena Bašić, Contributor

We need to find a place in the middle of this continuum that will allow us to recharge without radically lowering our adrenaline levels.

There are a variety of activities and methods that can allow individuals, no matter their specific interests, to find this balance. For example, some hobbies can be both restful and stimulating to the brain and body at the same time.

Reading, exercising and listening to or playing music all have beneficial effects on the body and mind, but are not as taxing as arduous readings or complex essay prompts. Moreover, social interactions can be highly energizing for some individuals, especially after being deprived of them during the pandemic. It not only has physiological benefits since humans are naturally social creatures, but it also helps abate feelings of loneliness and isolation that can be extremely draining on a person. Finding solidarity in finally getting a break after a long semester can also be a great bonding tool among students!

Of course, such approaches will vary for everyone. Some people who are more introverted may find that individual activities are a better way to stay occupied without creating overbearing stressors during the holidays. 

Furthermore, one cannot expect every day of the break to be the same. Our energy levels fluctuate constantly and we need to respond as needed. This may mean being outside and active with friends for one day and then deciding to stay in for a movie marathon by yourself on another. 

So long as we are not keeping ourselves on one end of the spectrum for a prolonged period of time, we can find a healthy equilibrium between complete rest and the hustle of our daily life. 

So long as we are not keeping ourselves on one end of the spectrum for a prolonged period of time, we can find a healthy equilibrium between complete rest and the hustle of our daily life. 

Ardena Bašić, Contributor

In sum, although the holidays may seem like the perfect time to fully recharge, we have to balance such rest with engaging activities to ensure that we do not completely crash. Given the spirit of the season, reaching out to loved ones and peers, finding new or old forgotten hobbies or simply taking what comes with the day can allow one to reach this balance. 

Take care of yourself and those around you and you will come back with a new vigour for a successful next term!

C/O Yoohyun Park

How are international students staying connected with loved ones this winter break?

During August of 2021, Hamilton saw a massive influx of students returning to McMaster University, including a large number of international students who were finally able to return to Canada. Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on previous years, this is the first semester many international students are able to attend university in person and live away from home for the first time.

Dipto Prasun Nath, a fourth-year business student, spoke about his experiences during the holidays as an international student and his plans for the upcoming winter break. 

Over his winter breaks before the COVID-19 pandemic, Nath met up with his international friends from Bangladesh, whom he has been friends with for eighteen years. Although they’re all in Canada, they are separated by university so they have often picked a starting point to meet before travelling as a group.

“It’s nice to have your school friends around. When we move to Canada, it’s a new place where we don’t have any family. So whenever we get together with school friends we always have like, nostalgic feelings,” said Nath.

This year, Nath said he and his friends may be connecting through Whatsapp calls to keep in touch. Nath also commented on how each winter break has been a different experience for him. In his first year, Nath was invited by his roommate's family to stay over during the break.

“Every time it’s a new experience, right? I made really good friends at McMaster, I have to say that. One of my roommates, they were really nice to me. I had [the] experience of spending the winter break at a friend’s place,” said Nath.

“Every time it’s a new experience, right? I made really good friends at McMaster, I have to say that. One of my roommates, they were really nice to me. I had [the] experience of spending the winter break at a friend’s place.”

Dipto Prasun Nath, fourth-year business student

Last year, Nath stayed in Bangladesh and continued classes online, keeping the apartment he had rented during the first half of his second year. This year, he will be in Canada once again for the winter break and for the first time, his family will be visiting him for the winter break in Canada. He says he is looking forward to the visit as he misses his parents.

“In Bangladesh the coldest we get is like 10 or 15 degrees . . . so we never got to experience snow,” said Nath.

Nath said he and his family are looking forward to visiting Vancouver and Montreal during the break.

Another international student, Cleon D’Souza, plans to return to Dubai this winter break to visit his family for the first time since 2018. He looks forward to being in Dubai to celebrate Christmas, his parents' anniversary and his father’s birthday.

“The thing I miss the most is my mom’s cooking because I have not had my mom’s cooking in so, so long. I can’t wait to spend time with my dad,” said D’Souza.

“The thing I miss the most is my mom’s cooking because I have not had my mom’s cooking in so, so long. I can’t wait to spend time with my dad.”

Cleon D’Souza, Fourth-year mathematics and statistics student

D’Souza also talked about meeting his friends during the holidays in person, instead of over the internet like he had during previous winter breaks. 

“100 per cent I’m so excited . . . Usually every winter it’s [my friends] meeting and me just being virtually available in Canada. This time I can actually physically meet them, see them [and] spend lots of time with them,” said D’Souza. 

“100 per cent I’m so excited . . . Usually every winter it’s [my friends] meeting and me just being virtually available in Canada. This time I can actually physically meet them, see them [and] spend lots of time with them.”

Cleon D’Souza, Fourth-year mathematics and statistics student

Not only will D’Souza meet up with old friends, but he will also have the chance to reconnect with high school teachers and volunteers from his church that he hasn’t seen since he left to study in Canada. 

“There’s also other events, like meeting my highschool teachers . . . a lot of them played a really important role in my life. I can’t wait to meet with them and discuss things that they’ve taught me that I use in my real life,” said D’Souza. 

After so many lockdowns due to the pandemic, there is more catching up this winter break to be done than usual. Whether it’s through Whatsapp calls, flights home or visits with friends, international students are finding ways to stay connected to their friends and family this winter break.

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