Fighting Back-to-School Blues Season

New and current students are once again faced with warding off anxiety over returning to classes.

With the semester in full swing, a palpable sense of anxiety pervades the minds of many students across campus—it’s back-to-school blues season. 

This switch to a heavier workload and adjusting to a new schedule might put some students in an uncomfortable position, one they might not be able to deal with alone.

Hera Baboudjian, a registered social worker in Quebec, said that anxiety over returning to the academic grind is common well into a person’s adulthood.

“It’s managing the workload while dealing with relationships—family or otherwise—and coming back to that can be hard,” Baboudjian said. “In a way, it’s like entering a mini-society and everyone has their role to deal with.”

Baboudjian explained academic stress manifests differently from one person to another. Different students come from situations independent from their academic lives. As such, dealing with these same issues is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Griffin Reed, a first-year music student, said he wasn’t looking forward to his first day on campus. “I was completely nervous. It’s a new campus, new faces, new everything,” Reed said. “I did not know there were like five buildings I had to find.” 

He was filled with dread over navigating his long commute from the Laurentides. He turned to one of his only comforts, listening to music during his ride.

Reed expressed an interest in Concordia’s Zen Dens, which offer mental health services and peer support. However, Reed said his classes were ultimately not as stressful as he thought. “I think it’ll just take time,” added Reed. “I can still see the Zen Dens usefulness.” 

Alternatively, Concordia’s health and wellness page offers tools and guides a student can refer to during times of stress, a resource Baboudjian recommended as well. 

She believes the first steps a person should take to fight their anxiety is to get organized, set realistic goals for themselves and find resources to help them.

More experienced students such as Yasmine Bakeeso, a second-year student in marketing, have acclimated to the stress that comes from returning to classes.

“You can’t be too hard on yourself. Even if you’re not at the place you want to be right now, you won’t regret giving it your best,” Bakesso explained. 

Despite having a full year of university under her belt, Bakesso anticipates the coming semester might take a toll on her mental health. As such, she considered reaching out to available specialists on campus, should the need for counseling arise.

Alessio Cipriano-Kardous, a third-year computer science student, said that he sympathizes with students who get nervous over a new semester. Working part-time as an IT technician, he’s no stranger to dealing with a lot on his plate. 

“It gets exhausting. I’ve learned to cope by giving myself the time to organize myself every week,” he explained. “The people who get used to it seem like the exception, but they don’t have to be.”

This back to normal is… weird, right?

Going back to normal isn’t going to go as we expected

Is it just me, or does being back on campus feel weird to anyone else? Eighteen months of online school came to an end in the span of a week with little more than a new access card to mark the occasion. I don’t know what I was expecting; certainly not a marching band to parade down Sherbrooke St. to raise the Concordia flag over the Loyola campus, but a bit more than my professors saying “wow, Zoom sucked… anyway here’s the syllabus.”

It was the perpetual promise of this “back to normal” that helped me through some of the toughest moments of the pandemic. Now that I am living the life that was interrupted, it feels like at any moment I could look down and find the pen that I lost on the last day of in-person classes before Montreal entered its first lockdown — slightly dusty but otherwise in the same place I left it.

The influenza pandemic of 1918 was dubbed the “forgotten plague” because of how quickly it disappeared from public discourse afterwards. Historians aren’t certain as to the reason why people stopped talking about it. Possibly, pandemics were more common back then or news coverage focused more on the war than the flu. Maybe after living through four years of chaos caused by a world at war, they too were desperate for a return to normalcy.

100 years later, as the COVID-19 outbreak surpasses the 1918 influenza epidemic as North America’s deadliest pandemic, I catch myself slipping into this new collective form of self-induced amnesia. On a video call with my family, my mother asked me how many Concordians died from COVID-19 and I had to say that I didn’t know if any Concordians died. I doubted that Concordia would have the authority to disclose that information, but I checked their website regardless and couldn’t find anything.

It’s only with those closest to me in our most private and intimate conversations that keeps the pandemic from fading into memory. While on a walk, a friend grieved for her “lost year” and the experiences she missed out on and could never get back. Another, who had lost multiple family members in the second wave, cried over feeling guilty that he wanted the lockdown to end. After returning to the last place I saw the girl I was dating before the lockdown, I realized how angry and jaded this pandemic had left me.

I have heard this pandemic be compared to war, natural disaster, even religious reckoning. In my opinion, the best comparison is to the fable of the frog and the pot of boiling water. The fable states that if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it will immediately jump out; but if you put it in cool water and then bring the pot to a boil, the frog doesn’t feel the changing temperature and boils alive.

Inversely, this pandemic threw us into a pot of boiling water and made us wait until it cooled. A lot of people died very quickly, and then gradually slightly fewer people died as time went on. Life moved forward with online classes and remote summer jobs. The curfew got pushed back and was eventually lifted. Social bubbles got bigger without us noticing. And along the way we forgot what it was like not to be boiling alive.


Photograph by Christine Beaudoin

Easy student-friendly recipes for when life is just too much

Budget and time-friendly meal ideas to get you through student life

As students, it’s easy to get swept up in studying, socializing, or lying around on your laptop for so long that you forget to feed yourself. Now, despite how common this practice is, we all know it isn’t all that healthy. One of the best ways to prepare yourself for success this semester is to make a balanced diet a priority. Now, that in no way means sad diet foods and avoiding Tim’s on the way to class. Instead, making sure your arsenal is stocked with nutritious and budget-friendly recipes is a great way to make sure you aren’t surviving on instant ramen alone. Here are some fast and easy recipes to help you nail this school year.

Summer Rolls

Vietnamese summer rolls sustained my withered body during this summer’s heat wave, but this cool, refreshing dish is also a fast and simple lunch or dinner all year round. All you need are: rice paper sheets, vermicelli noodles, a protein of your choice (I use baked tofu, but shrimp is most authentic), and any veggies you have lying around your fridge chopped into thin sticks (I like a bed of lettuce with carrots, cucumbers and peppers). Wet your rice paper sheets in warm water until they reach a pliable and gummy texture, fill with whatever your heart desires, and then roll into a burrito-like shape. A few shakes of fish sauce inside the roll really makes it, if you have a bottle lying around (which you definitely should). This is the perfect dish for cleaning out your fridge, so don’t be too precious with it. Make sure to dip your rolls in a peanut sauce for a well-rounded but light meal.

Oven Fajitas

One great way to save time cooking as a student is a “set it and forget it” meal, where you throw everything in the oven in one swoop and just wait. My go-to is Budget Bytes’ chicken fajitas. Throw some oiled and seasoned sliced chicken breast, peppers, onions (and whatever else you’d like) into an oven at 400 F for 35-40 minutes and then boom — dinner. You can eat it over rice on the go, or my preference, in a tortilla with some salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. These one pan recipes are perfect for students living in packed apartments, where too many dishes clogging up the sink can lead to some unsavoury altercations. I’d also recommend Budget Bytes in general as a great resource for other simple, cash-saving recipes — I know I’ve relied on them for the past four years.

Veggie-Packed Quiche

Now, I can imagine many reading this are perplexed at the concept of making a quiche as being an easy, student-friendly recipe, but I promise it’s simpler than you think. Quiche is truly the perfect meal-prepping food, as it works for lunch or dinner with just the accompaniment of maybe a side salad or soup. One recipe I love to batch-prep on weekends is a veggie quiche, packed full of whatever produce is in season. The mix of fibre from the veggies, protein from the eggs, and carbs from the cheese and crust (premade of course, we’re not Nigella Lawson here) makes quiche a super nutritious quick meal idea that will last in the fridge and keep you energized throughout the school day.

Big Boy Salad

I am of the firm belief that salad can be fun if you’re willing to put in a little bit of effort. And the salads I make are not diet-y, basically-just-eating-water bowls of sadness. The key to a salad (or “bowl” as bougie establishments have begun to dub them) is balancing the ratio of grains to vegetables to fun add-ons. So, as the weather turns, I like to make a fall salad with kale as the base, adding in farro, and topping with roasted sweet potato, thinly sliced apples, a bit of goat cheese, and some nuts like walnuts or pecans. Now, while I think that sounds delish, this formula can be adapted to any taste. Just keep in mind: base (kale, spinach, lettuce, arugula…), grain (rice, farro, quinoa, couscous…), and protein-filled add ons (meat/tofu, nuts, seeds, cheeses, hemp/flax/chia seeds…).

Sweep the Fridge Shakshuka

Shakshuka is another recipe that can be simple or made fancier depending on your time and the ingredients you have on hand. In its most basic form, Shakshuka is a stewy tomato dish with eggs poached inside. Start by frying up some onions and garlic. Once fragrant, dump in a can of diced tomatoes (obviously fresh chopped tomatoes are ideal, but we live in Quebec so we make do). Season with salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne, and other spices to your liking. Once the sauce is reduced and the flavours have melded nicely, create divots in the sauce with a spoon and crack in a few eggs and cover until cooked through, but with a nice, jammy yolk. Top with herbs and/or feta to your liking. This dish can be made entirely out of inexpensive pantry staples, and is a warm, comforting and filling dish easily paired with some nice crusty bread for dipping.


Graphic by James Fay

What Should I Read Next?

 Five book suggestions to help you with your daily commute

If there is one thing I love to do, it’s read books, and if there is a second thing I love, it’s to recommend my favourite ones to other people. Getting to share my love of reading with other people is fantastic. I like to think I am a well-read person because I read a variety of genres. With the school year starting up, and with more classes in person, students will be commuting more — so, I figured that I would choose a variety of books to recommend to help make the commute better.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz 

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom is a book that discusses four rules we should follow in order to help better ourselves and our lives. Each rule is followed by a chapter that covers why that agreement is important, and provides information on how the rule can work in our lives, and how we can incorporate them all. The four agreements are: 1) Be impeccable with your word, 2) Don’t take anything personally, 3) Don’t make assumptions, and 4) Do your best.

With the start of back to school season, all the changes happening and the pandemic still going on, this book is amazing because it helps us to be less hard on ourselves. This is a book that focuses on making agreements with yourself. Sure, the self-help genre might be a little overrated sometimes, but Ruiz’s book is different. The Four Agreements allows you to be less hard on yourself and doesn’t sell you some fantasy about how to get rich quickly, or preach platitudes like everything happens for a reason. It is really about looking deeply into yourself and realizing that we aren’t perfect, and shouldn’t need to be perfect.

Home Body by Rupi Kaur 

Home Body is Rupi Kaur’s third poetry book, and like the other two, she captures many events and traumas that have occurred throughout her life. She writes her poems with no capital letters, and there are also her own drawings that accompany her poems.

When travelling, sometimes poetry books make the best companions. Poems get you to think, and with all the movement, sometimes reading something shorter is a little better. Rupi Kaur is an amazing poet with such interesting material; she talks a lot about her experience as a woman of colour and various traumas, and getting to step into her world even for just a short while is so moving. Even her shortest of poems will leave a lasting impact on the reader. I love this poetry collection more than words can express.

The Roommate by Rosie Danan 

The Roommate by Rosie Danan follows Josh and Clara who end up being roommates. Clara comes from a pretty high profile family, and Josh is a pretty well known porn star. At first, they seem like polar opposites, but with time, they realize they might actually be able to get along.

The experience of living with roommates is not all that new to many students, so I thought it would be fun to include a book that explores that as the main premise. This book is fun and presents sex in an interesting way, as the two main characters try to make porn more accessible to women, by making it for women. In my reading, I felt that the way the relationships between characters were described were much more realistic than most of those romance novels with the muscle man on the cover. If you are expecting more than a lighthearted and cute, romantic comedy, then perhaps this is not the book for you. That being said, if you want a cute book to distract you from all the people surrounding you on public transit, then I think this is a great choice!

The Last Time I Lied By Riley Sager 

The Last Time I Lied features Emma, a rising NYC socialite, who goes back to a summer camp fifteen years after an awful event occurred. Back when Emma was at the camp, her roommates left the room one night, and she was the last person who saw them alive. How she remembers things, and what happened are the main questions. Emma uses painting as a means of remembering, and she is asked back to the camp to help with teaching art.

Riley Sager has recently become one of my favourite authors. And of all of his books, this one was the most fitting for going back to school, as it takes place over a summer, and that love of summer goes away once the back to school period starts. This book kept me questioning what was happening the whole time. It’s one of those books that you just cannot seem to put down. The Last Time I Lied is such a good book because it has all the elements of a great suspense novel. It has the thrills, the action, and a lovely little twist that most readers would not expect. What’s better than a book that can captivate you when dealing with a long commute? Just don’t forget to look up once in a while because this is the kind of book that will make you miss your stop.

William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Mean Girls by Ian Doescher

What if Mean Girls took place in Shakespearean times? That is what William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Mean Girls tries to answer. The play takes various elements of Much Ado About Nothing and Mean Girls, and creates a whole new way of appreciating both the movie and Shakespeare’s play because it stays true to the Shakespearen style, and includes how this adaptation uses the variety of techniques that Shakespeare uses. The book focuses on the style and ways in which characters interact with each other in Shakespeare’s play, and applies that to the context of a teen high school flic.

Mean Girls is essentially one of the most quotable movies of my time, and Shakespeare is the most known playwright of all time. So, when Doescher combines them it makes for such an unexpectedly exciting and funny read. Also, with it being back to school season, why not go back and relive such a classic movie in a new way. Furthermore, the way William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Mean Girls is written is so seamless, it feels like the two worlds truly belong together. This play made me laugh so much — it is a fun read and makes for a great commuting companion.


Feature graphic by Madeline Schmidt

How to make friends (because you probably forgot)

No, I don’t mean Twitter mutuals

The pandemic has caused a notable shrinkage in most people’s social circles. And if you’re like me, with honestly not that many friends to start out with, post-lockdown Friday nights often consist of you and your one roommate sitting across from each other playing the “do we make the effort to go out or do we just drink wine and just talk to each other” game. I love my roommate, but something’s gotta give.

In theory, with school back in session, there’s no excuse to stay in this lonesome routine. Throughout the past year and a half, we’ve told ourselves that the reason our friend groups were diminishing was because of social distancing rules, discomfort attending large parties, people graduating and moving on while still online, etc. Surely it’s just COVID. I’m not the problem, right?

Well, that’s a question for your therapist to answer. In the meantime, how do you make up for those friends who have been lost to the sands of time these past COVID years?

To make friends this back-to-school season, you have to really want it. This means not waiting for people to come to you, because you’ll be waiting forever. So, actually go up to the interesting person in your class and strike up conversation. Is there someone with cool laptop stickers? How about the person with Spotify open on their computer, showing pretty good taste? Maybe it’s just the person with the least contrived response to your class’ Foucault reading? Talk to them!

You already have some shared interests with those you’re in class with, whether it’s pondering the intersections of queerness and spirituality in the religious studies department, or the shared interest of getting a job after graduation while in a JMSB lecture. Surely there’s something bringing you together, so go grab a coffee at The Hive and find out.

Thinking outside the classroom, you can try joining activities that can help you to foster friendships. I made the mistake of not joining any collaborative clubs until January of 2020, so pending another global crisis, don’t be like me. There are plenty of clubs, classes, and activities on campus and off that could help you build that sad little social net you so desperately desire.

Off campus, there are many art classes around town that you can drop in on for fairly cheap, and what’s better than staring at a naked model to really bring you together with your peers? Exercise classes are also great for building relationships through shared trauma.

On campus, there are plenty of clubs for different interests and identities. For example, there are groups for students of different nationalities and ethnicities, such as the Concordia Syrian Students’ Association, Hillel Concordia, Haitian Students at Concordia, and many more. If you’re into art, try Collective 4891 or Concordia’ART. For the adventurers, there’s the Concordia Outdoors Club. If you’re a massive egotist who wants to subject others to your silly little ideas, try student journalism!

Attending these clubs and events is a great start, and you’re sure to find at least a few people you click with. But, the crux of all of this is to make sure you’re fostering these acquaintances into real friendships. There’s nothing worse than a casual friendship that you know could be made into something deeper, but neither of you are willing to put in the time or effort. We all need to collectively swallow our pride and make the first step, because if social isolation taught us anything, it’s that an Instagram mutual does not necessarily a true friend make.


Feature graphic by James Fay


Students express their worries and excitement about the new semester

New and returning students chime in on what they think about online classes

Students from all backgrounds are facing challenges and advantages as the new online semester starts. Some feel isolated, while others enjoy sitting in bed during their lectures.

“A big part of university is the social aspect,” said Leigha Brett, a first-year Human Environment student. Brett is not only a new student, but also new to Montreal. “I’ll miss out on clubs and sports, I was hoping to get involved in that. I don’t know anybody, so it’ll be lonely behind the screen.”

Brett said that Concordia has offered online Zoom orientation for new students, but because of her work hours she was unable to attend.“That’s about it, they haven’t done much else,” said Brett, yet she admits she doesn’t see how the university could have done more for new students.

On Concordia’s website, there are lists of resources and a guide for new students, but Brett said that she finds the Concordia website confusing and difficult to navigate. Brett also feels that tuition remaining the same is ridiculous.“You are missing out on so much, so we should pay less,” she said. Some students are choosing not to return until classes are in-person once again.

“Working from home is really hard for some students,” said William Berger, a Fine Arts student. Berger decided not to take classes this semester as the art studios he relies on are closed. “It’s really hard to work alone at home, and over time it impacted my mood,” said Berger.

While Berger understands that the university had to close, he does hope that the university will figure out a way to have the art studios open in a safe way.

“Arts students need to have proper space and tools to work with,” he said. Other students are anticipating the switch to online courses will be positive.

“I love that I can sleep in and do my lectures at my pace, in my pajamas at home,” said Céleste Desrosiers, a second year student in Kinesiology and Clinical Exercise Physiology (KCEP). “I can rewatch [lectures] to review, or if I didn’t catch something.”

Desrosiers said that last semester her labs were put online, but now they are back in-person with small groups of students.

“The only impact is not having access to the learning lab where we practice with tools outside of lab hours with peers,” she said.

Desrosiers said that part of her feels that it is unfair that Concordia is charging the same tuition, as resources like the library will be closed. Yet she also feels that the university has most likely spent resources moving everything online and ensuring student safety.

Regarding online classes affecting grades, Desrosiers said she is only worried about online monitored exams.

“I am nervous that the system will think I am cheating even though I am not, for example if I look away just to think or if I go to the bathroom,” Desrosiers said. She expressed concern that this worry will make her lose focus during her exams.

Desrosiers said the best thing new students, or students that are feeling isolated, can do is to make a Facebook group with people in their program.“To help answer questions and to fill the social void we are all feeling,” she said.


Photo by Kit Mergaert

Welcome back: Concordia in the age of COVID-19

The strangest semester in the history of our university has officially begun

Along with the rest of the world, Concordia and its students are adjusting to a crushing new reality. To date, over 27 million people have been infected with COVID-19 worldwide. The virus has claimed nearly 6,000 lives in Quebec alone, and while the death rate has slowed, the number of losses continues to climb. Marked by insecurity, inequality, and inexhaustible anxiety, the past months have been a challenge, to say the least.

Despite this, we’ve somehow managed to stumble our way through half a year of this mess. We’re adapting, a little clumsily at times, but enough to continue our studies in the midst of a global meltdown. All things considered, it’s pretty impressive.

For most of us, adaptation will take the form of Zoom classes in our pyjama bottoms and study dates in the park. Some obstacles, however, will be more difficult to tackle: in the wake of such colossal uncertainty, countless students are faced with a lack of funds, a lack of accessibility, and a decline in their mental wellbeing. Demanding support from the institutions that vow to support us is crucial, and this includes our university.

This year at The Concordian, we aim to connect students with the resources they need; to hold our university and other institutions accountable for the promises they make; and to tell the stories of students, faculty, staff, and everyone in between as they navigate these treacherous times. If you’re someone with a tale to tell, or maybe you’re interested in amplifying the voices of others, we strongly encourage you to pitch us your ideas. Our digital door is always open.

As much as we hypothesize about the months to come, it’s hard to say exactly what the fall semester of 2020 is going to be like. One thing is for certain: it won’t be one to forget.



  • Homeroom – A weekly virtual homeroom where students can make friends and learn must-know information about starting university. Registration is required and participants will receive perks based on attendance.
  • Centre for Teaching and Learning – Get help navigating online learning, Moodle, assignment submission, and setting up your phone and laptop.
  • Student Success Centre (SSC) – Get help from a learning specialist and one-on-one tutoring.
  • Support for mental and physical health – Find support for your mental and physical well being, as well as academic and financial support.
  •  Financial Aid and Awards Office – In-depth advice on planning finances and discovering bursaries and loans.
  • Concordia Emergency Student Relief Fund – Concordia has allocated over $1 million to support students’ economic hardships.
  • Student groups – Connect with over 200 student groups and see what they’re up to during the online semester.
  • Library services – While the physical library is closed, the librarians are working hard to support students online. Students can request textbooks to be put online. The Library is hoping to open limited study spaces by Sept. 14.
  • Stay updated – Keep informed about what Concordia is offering and any changing regulations.


A statement from President Graham Carr:

“Being a Concordian means being part of a community. This fall, as we start an academic year unlike any we’ve seen before, we’re looking forward to you joining this great community. Whether you’re a new student or a returning one, we’re here to support you and help you succeed in your studies. Please take advantage of the many services we have in place to assist you. Let’s continue being bold, being innovative and creating the kind of community that makes me proud to be a Concordian.”


Feature photo by Alex Hutchins

Concordia Student Union News

CSU Club Fair Attracts Hundreds

Throughout Welcome Week, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) worked to engage new and returning students. The Union’s Facebook page listed nine events ranging from a sustainability mixer to a student-parent BBQ.

Last Wednesday’s club fair was one of CSU’s more popular events. Hundreds of people marked themselves as “interested” or “going” on the union’s Facebook page. The CSU and four faculty associations work with more than 100 on-campus groups. More than a dozen of them, like the Concordia Game Club to Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, reached out to new and returning students at the fair to make introductions.

Concordia’s CJLO blasted music throughout the Hall Building’s mezzanine as students wandered between displays. First-year student Sienna Thompains said she enjoyed Welcome Week and the club fair.

“I didn’t really know anybody because I’m from the States, but I’m having a great time getting to know people,” said Thompains.

Chris Iannotti, an executive at the Concordia Game Club, said that many first-years and a few graduate students expressed interest in the group. According to Iannotti, finding information about student groups is difficult online but the Club Fair’s physical presence helps overcome technological barriers.

“Right now, the state of Concordia’s website for club finding is a bit messy, but here you’re able to sign up and join all the facebook groups,” said Iannotti.

Iannotti’s Concordia Game Club is not new to Concordia. Founded more than three decades ago, Iannotti said he has no complaints about CSU’s involvement in the on-campus groups.

“We all get a fair budget, and when we need something they [CSU] help us,” said Iannotti.

At another stand, Tess Walker managed the Concordia chapter of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Walker, the co-founder of the Concordia chapter that opened this year, said the goal is to promote harm-reduction on campus, but she was disappointed the group did not have a presence during frosh week.

“It’s the year when people start experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and we are hoping to have more resources to hand out,” said Walker. “CSU has been helpful. Especially last year, people helped set up the club. We’ll see how it goes this year.”

Welcome Week is coming to an end, but Club Fair (part II) is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Hall Building’s mezzanine on Wednesday, September 11.


Photos by Britanny Clarke

Student Life

Spa day before school gets in the way

Summer 2019 has been busy. Between my retail job and my internship, I spent my days off catching up on chores, seeing friends and family, and just trying to be an adult as best as I could. All this running around led me to be more exhausted than I was at the beginning of the summer, which isn’t the best way to start off a new semester.

Last week, I went to the spa to try to take an actual day off before school starts; before I’m thrown into another eight months of stress before I can actually relax again. Since no technology is allowed and I went by myself, I was really all by myself — no one to talk to or to message, no work emails, no social media.

During the first hour there (out of five total), my mind kept thinking about work, about what other people were doing and posting on social media, what I would write for this week’s paper, etc. The time alone made me zero in on the fact that my brain never stops; it’s always thinking about something other than what’s happening in the moment.

What I did notice, though, was this feeling inside of me, what I could only describe as a ball of chaotic energy that made it a little bit difficult to breathe. I realized that it was a feeling of mild anxiety and stress that I hadn’t really noticed before because I was always on the go.

After focusing on my breathing, my mind started slowing down, and I became more present in the moment: I stopped thinking of work, I forgot about social media. I even lost track of time despite there being clocks everywhere. I became so focused on my breathing and on trying to really relax that I fell asleep.

Over the next couple of hours, I really took that time by myself for myself. I tried out all the different options the spa had available: I went from the hot rooms/water to cold baths, then fell asleep. After a few rounds of this little routine, the ball of stress and anxiety that felt like it was consuming my chest and stomach at the beginning of my day had significantly reduced. I felt at peace, less stressed, and more aware of my body. With school having started, it’s inevitable that we’re going to be stressed.

The point of this little story is to remind you to be mindful of the effects stress has on you, both mentally and physically. You don’t have to go to a spa to try to de-stress; simply be mindful of your breathing, remain aware of the effects of stress on you before it feels like it’s too much to handle.

When you feel that ball of chaotic energy beginning to build up, take some time (even a few hours) to be away from technology and other people. Take some time alone to focus on your breathing, treat yourself to some at-home spa-like treatments, take a nap — you’ll wake up feeling refreshed, less stressed, and more at peace.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


The Long Shadow of a small thing

A poem describing the start of a new academic year, and the beauty to be found in it

A new school year often inspires students to be better, do better and become better. But personal growth doesn’t need a calendar event in order to happen, as it can always take place if we let it. Ally Turner’s poem reminds us of the revelations that can be found in even the most mundane of moments. Turner is in her third year of creative writing at Concordia.

The Long Shadow of a Small Thing

Ally Turner

Chewing bubblegum like there is some kind of answer at the core of it. Standing on the side of the big road and feeling the energy of each driver as they go by you. There is no point in asking, we are just suspended in it. The blue, the stretching pink, the colour that comes through you in a way that is non-physical.

You walk into your apartment and say to your roommate that you transcended gravity tonight – that the sky lived inside of you. You go into your room and cry because every time you try to tell what is happening to you it sounds empty.

In September there is a heat wave that lasts two weeks. It is hotter than the dead of August; the pool is busy, the bodies like crystal embroidery. There is only one way to feel safe in this world and it happens when you can forget what you are. At the belly of the pool, you sit for as long as you can until there are fizzy dots behind your eyes. You fall asleep poolside while your friends talk about some drummer.

  You eat the dinner that you made together in the kitchen and don’t look at each other. You eat three noodles with each bite. You pace your fork back and forth over the plate as if action will trigger result. It doesn’t matter what is happening around you because it is all in your head. One minute you are real, the next you are just staring at the wall with shiny eyes. I don’t know why it happens like this but it does and that is the important part.

When will it settle? I search the treetops for an overwhelming sense of beauty. I close my eyes and try to focus on the breeze on my face. Every moment feels like the build up to something terrible. I am awaiting the pinnacle that never arrives. My hair is falling out in chunks.

In my dream I am trapped in a cell that is shaped like my body except the skin is rubbery and pallid. I open my eyes and I am in the park and there is a great emptiness. I swallow nothing into the pit of nothing. I look up at the blue through the leaves and it is brimming.

This creative writing piece was brought to you with the help of Annah-Lauren Bloom. 

Graphic by Florence Yee


Back to school with OUMF

Behind the scenes of OUMF’s music festival with Mikey Rishwain Bernard

One of Montreal’s biggest back-to-school festivals is back for another year. Think old school hip-hop bloc party with DJs, live bands and loud crowds—this is OUMF.

From Wednesday Sept. 7 to 10, OUMF will present free performances from local and international artists outdoors on Saint-Denis Street at Quartier des spectacles. The festival is celebrating its 6th year and the lineup is one to look forward to. Renowned DJs such as DJ Jazzy Jeff and Skratch Bastid will be taking the stage.

This year’s great lineup of artists would not be possible without festival and program director of ‘M pour Montreal’ Mikey Rishwain Bernard. ‘M Pour Montreal’ plans a multitude of music showcases at festivals around the world. They are in charge of the musical program for OUMF. Rishwain has been handling all the music aspects of the festival. “My specific mandate is music programming and I also go on stage to host and say jokes that some people laugh at and some don’t,” said Rishwain.

The festival will be focusing on hip-hop, everything from old school to new school. DJ Jazzy Jeff used to kick it with Will Smith in their duo group “DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.” “He’s considered a catalyst to Will Smith,” said Rishwain. “He is a music pioneer to DJs. It’s good to see a guy still keeping it old school. It’s an honour to have him perform for us this year.” He added that there will also be indie bands and many female acts.

“I’m looking forward to Hein Cooper. He is a beautiful Australian man that looks like Justin Bieber and he has great songs. It’s great to bring that Australian vibe to the show,” Rishwain said. He said he’s also excited for the “Word Up Battles.” It’s a rap battle between two rappers, all in French. The rappers go on stage and compete live.“It could be edgy, but it’s very entertaining,” said Rishwain.

Another major highlight is Canadian DJ Skratch Bastid. He’s the first Canadian DJ to ever be nominated for a Juno Award and he will be performing at OUMF this coming Friday at 9 p.m.

The event is free and geared for all age groups. For Rishwain, OUMF signifies a boost before the school season. “A lot of young students from everywhere that are new to the city, they need their melting pot,” he said. “They seem to communicate through music and partying. This festival kicks off the school year.”

Interview with music programmer Mikey Rishwain Bernard. Photo by Bruno D. Capture.

Rishwain is well-known in the Montreal music scene. He plans a multitude of music festivals throughout North America and has brought many talented local artists closer to stardom. As festival and program director of ‘M pour Montreal’, his goal is to help artists develop outside of Canada.“We are here to put a system in place for artists to play for a lot of influential people in different countries,” he said, adding that he’s always been really big on bringing people together. “We are ‘M’ for middle guy, bringing musicians together to create success and showcase opportunities on an international scale.”

Mac DeMarco and Half Moon Run are great examples of artists that gained success through ‘M Pour Montreal.’ They first played in front of ‘M pour Montreal’ audiences. “We do music industry conferences by showcasing these bands and artists,” said Rishwain, adding that that was how these groups started their careers.  He said he remembers booking Grimes and Half Moon Run in England when no one knew who they were and now they can sell out a whole show by themselves.

Last year, he saw Mac DeMarco and Half Moon Run play all around Europe. Rishwain said their crowds were even bigger in Ireland and Germany than in Montreal. “Knowing that they played together at ‘M pour Montreal’ and seeing them play in Europe gave me goosebumps. It shows how fast things can evolve and it happened in a matter of years for these bands,” he said.

Milk & Bone is another example of local success for Rishwain. “It was an honour to be part of their early success. These girls were always practicing. I heard a song and took a chance before ever hearing them perform live,” he said. “My feeling was booking them right away and it became a dream come true on both ends,” said Rishwain.

“I enjoy putting a breath of my own spirit in what I do,” he said. What he loves most about his job is to represent artists from Montreal. “I help pimp lots of bands and artists.”

Make sure to come and party at the OUMF music festival and laugh at Mikey Rishwain’s jokes. For more information regarding the event, visit their website.

Student Life

The back-to-school grown-up checklist

Some of the adult shit you need to get done before school starts

So the five-month student holiday is coming to a close.  In only a short week, the time you once had for day-long hangovers, paralyzing sunburns and summer barbecue food comas will be over.

School takes up a lot of time.  September always turns way too quickly into midterms, and soon you will be reminded that the adult-life-things you meant to do over the summer never got done.  So now’s the time!

The week before classes start is the perfect time to get appointments out of the way.  Do you have a teeth cleaning that is way overdue?  Or maybe you meant to set up a meeting with your academic advisor this summer?  Book these things now! If you have phone phobia, a lot of appointments can now be made online.  If that’s not an option, then suck it up, real adults speak on the phone.

Once your appointments are cleared, get more paperwork-administration-type-stuff checked off your list.  Bills, address changes, unanswered emails…these things can be huge sources of stress.

Start by paying as much of your credit card as you possibly can.  I know it’s scary, but check your finances online, make sure you are in the clear and find out if you have the best credit card to suit your needs.  In September, school expenses can go through the roof, so it’s best to start the month with the least amount of money stress possible.

Next, clear your inbox.  Answer any emails you missed over the summer, unsubscribe to any newsletter you are really sick of seeing and delete, delete, delete!  Chances are, you will be using your email a lot during the school year, so why not have it nice and neat for the start of classes.

Ah, the joy of paying bills!  If you are still receiving bills, perhaps consider making the switch to online billing.  This eliminates the possibility of losing anything.  For certain bills like Internet, hydro and the many subscriptions you may have, there is often the option to sign up for automatic payments.  This is when the company automatically charges the amount due to your credit card each month.  While this option is extremely practical, make sure you check the amount each month to assure it makes sense.

Did you move this summer? Address changes don’t have to be a pain. Visit Service Canada’s website or La Régie de l’Assurance Maladie’s website to get a full checklist of steps you need to follow to complete your address change.  The checklists come with links that go directly to the page you need to make the switch!  It’s as simple as that.  Another option is to visit Canada Post’s website or brave a trip to your local Post Office.

After getting all or some of this shit done, you should feel one step closer to being a grown-up and perhaps half a step closer to being in the right mindset for lectures and assignments.

Cheers fellow capable adults! I give you all a warm welcome back to school.

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