Forever an overachiever

The addiction of success.

In the midst of finals season, I always tend to be burnt out. But even though I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted, I find myself with an asinine zeal to overachieve. Among all of the hours spent in sweatpants and oversized t-shirts with my hair coconut-oiled and tossed into a ratty looking bun, I also have that self-inflicted need to produce award-winning essays, over-study for my exams, channel my inner Rory Gilmore and declare, “Who cares if I’m pretty if I fail my finals?” 

The pressure to excel is absolutely insane. 

This is a deep-rooted issue and I’m more than aware of that. Since grade school, I got report card comments like, “Saskia is such a pleasure to have in class!” and the aftermath of parent-teacher conferences were along the lines of “Saskia is very bright and mature for her age!” Because of this, I’ve naturally wanted to maintain that standard. 

Being an overachiever means being someone who performs beyond what is expected or to a really high level, and it often goes hand in hand with academic success. Overachievers are typically perfectionists, and tend to do impressive things at a high level. They typically engage in excessive self-criticism, and sometimes even berate themselves when they don’t live up to their own high expectations. 

University students are continuously under the pressure to push themselves beyond their limits, to aim for the best—in the midst of that, it is easy to begin measuring self-worth by academic success. Especially since so much depends on post-secondary education, anything deviating from getting nothing less than a degree with flying colours can be seen as failure. 

The pursuit of success along with the sheer volume of work leaves students feeling drained, and from this emerges the lovely cycle of self-sabotage. Even though you know that you’ve got three essays due in one week, with a final around the corner, you’ll put off your work because you’ll just “get it done later.” Not only is this self-sabotage (let’s face it, will you actually get it done later?) but also procrastination, which is a pretty big evil during finals season. 

As a self-proclaimed overachiever, I focus on the future and am motivated by fear: the fear of failure, regret, embarrassment and ultimately, disappointing others and not living up to potential. While I’m obviously happy about the accomplishments I achieve in school, such as a good mark on an exam or an essay, they aren’t things I dwell for too long on. In fact, even if the grade is good I still find a way to nitpick and think that if only I’d done this better or that better, I could have gotten a higher grade.   

While the overachiever in you might just feel inescapable, let this be a reminder to take breaks and give yourself time to remember that not everything you submit and not every test you take will be the best one you do! At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it is okay to cut yourself some slack—it’s been a hectic semester.

Hockey News Sports

The three-peat is complete: Stingers women’s hockey wins RSEQ championship

Stingers beat Université de Montréal Carabins in winner-take-all game three.

Following a series win against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team shifted their focus to their next and final opponent in the RSEQ final— the Université de Montréal Carabins.

Though both Montréal and Concordia had clinched their tickets to the U SPORTS National Championship tournament by becoming provincial finalists, there was plenty at stake coming into this series. For the Stingers, a series win would make it their third straight RSEQ championship, a feat that has not been accomplished by Concordia since 2002. On the Montréal side, a first RSEQ title since 2019 was up for grabs, as well as revenge from last year’s heartbreaking final that saw them lose to the Stingers in three games.

The first game of the 2024 RSEQ final took place at the Ed Meagher Arena on Thursday, Feb. 29. Defense on both sides was the story of the first period. Concordia was held to 10 shots while Montréal only managed to total five, meaning quality scoring opportunities were minimal. The first period would come to a close as a scoreless draw.

Thirteen minutes into the second frame, Stingers forward and assistant captain Rosalie Bégin-Cyr broke the deadlock. Forward Jessymaude Drapeau patiently held onto the puck before finding her linemate who buried a shot past Carabins goaltender Aube Racine.

It did not take long before the Carabins evened up the game. A deflected shot from the point found its way past Stingers goaltender Jordyn Verbeek, tying the game 1-1 late in the second period.

As the third period got underway, Montréal took its first lead of the series, scoring one minute into the frame. The Stingers began to show desperation as they fired everything they had at Racine. With five minutes remaining in regulation, a golden opportunity emerged as the Stingers earned a late power play.

On the ensuing advantage, the Stingers tied it. Forward Émilie Lavoie scored on a seeing-eye wrister from the blue line, tying the game 2-2. Unfortunately, the momentum of the Stingers was short-lived.

With less than one minute on the clock, a deflected shot from the Carabins found its way into the Stingers’ cage, sealing game one for the Carabins. Stingers head coach Julie Chu offered some insight on what the message would be going into game two.

“I said to the team [today] the same as I did against Ottawa— ‘we have to reset, we have to get going and make sure that this loss is just a loss for today. So process it as you need to and don’t let it hit your heart,’” Chu shared after the loss. The message sent was received for the Stingers in game two.

As the first period got underway at CEPSUM Arena at the Université de Montréal on Saturday, March 2, the pace of play was the epitome of playoff hockey—fast-paced, physical and scoring opportunities at both ends. The Carabins came out of the gate firing, knowing the RSEQ title was in their hands with a win; but the Stingers knew if they lacked effort, their RSEQ season would end. Despite the quality chances, the first period ended 0-0.

Five minutes into the second period, the Stingers broke the tie. Forward Megan Bureau-Gagnon parked in front of the Montréal net and capitalized on a perfect deflection off a shot from forward Émilie Lussier. Bureau-Gagnon spoke on what it meant to score the opening goal.

“It felt good. The couple of shifts before the goal, we were buzzing around them so it was just a question of timing—and to put that [goal] in, it gave us a little room and we started to play freely which was great.” Once going up 1-0, the Stingers did not look back.

A goal by Drapeau in the second period and a goal by Lavoie in the third gave the Stingers the insurance they needed to close out game two. The Carabins got a goal of their own to narrow the deficit to two, but the Stingers would add an empty netter and win the game by a score of 4-1. Coach Chu spoke about returning home for the winner-take-all game three.

“We love playing at home. For us, we’re going to enjoy [the win] today but we’re going to turn the page really quick because [game three] tomorrow is going to come fast.”

The Ed Meagher Arena saw a packed crowd for the rubber match of the provincial final on Sunday, March 3. As fans supporting both sides piled in, the puck dropped to begin action. In what became a theme in the series, the first period resulted in both goalies making key saves to keep the game scoreless. This would change drastically in period two.

Three minutes into the middle frame, Montréal opened the scoring on a rebound that was put home by forward Marie Terriault. The lead for the Carabins, however, would not last long.

For a second game in a row, Bureau-Gagnon netted a huge goal for the Stingers, this time tying the game 1-1. This ignited the Stingers to take over the play overwhelmingly, resulting in an onslaught of goals.

Four goals by the Stingers over the next 12 minutes put them in command up 5-2, heading into the final period with the championship in their sight. For the players, the three goal lead, although nice, was not satisfying enough.

Following two goals by Drapeau and one from Lussier, defender Camille Richard and forward Emmy Fecteau, Concordia put the game to rest. The Stingers defeated the Carabins soundly by a score of 10-4, clinching their third straight RSEQ title. Coach Chu closed out the RSEQ season by sharing what this win means to the team heading into the National Championship.

“Anytime you win, it builds momentum. If anything, it helps us feel confident that we can go through a game where we are down a goal, where we are going through ups and downs of emotions, where the fans are incredible and the energy is great.”

The U SPORTS National Championship will be the next stop for the Stingers women’s hockey team. The team will head out to the University of Saskatchewan for March 14 where they will face the best university hockey teams from around Canada. The matchups and game times are still to be determined.

Soccer Sports

Following the Africa Cup of Nations from across the Atlantic Ocean

Eight thousand kilometres away from Concordia University, 24 African countries have battled it out at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

After a month of competition, hosts Côte d’Ivoire defeated Nigeria in the 2023 AFCON final on Sunday, the tournament’s most exciting edition in recent memory. For example, none of the eight quarter-finalists in 2022 have made the same stage this year.

A tournament that brings people together

Soccer distinguishes itself from many other popular sports by how easy it is to play. The fact that you only need a ball to play has catapulted the sport into worldwide popularity. This is no different in Africa, where it’s bringing people together through AFCON.

Malik Lee, a Nigerian Concordia student, says his country unites behind the Nigerian national team during AFCON tournaments. “There’s a lot of diversity, like 300 languages, multiple tribes. So it’s one thing that really puts everybody together,” he said. 

National teams can also turn enemies into friends. Mohamed Hazem Bonna, President of the university’s Egyptian Association, says games between Al Ahly and Zamalek, the country’s two biggest clubs, often get heated. “When they play against each other, in Egypt after the match, there will be a lot of fights, a lot of insults and whatever because the passion is crazy there in Egypt,” he said. 

However, when the Egyptian national team plays, these rivalries disappear momentarily. “We all play with each other, as Zamalek players play with Al Ahly players. So we’re all one hand. We’re all supporting the national team,” Bonna said.

Such an important tournament inevitably sees cultural and political rivalries play out on the pitch. However, Lee believes these rivalries create a sense of unity within Africa during the competition. “And it’s so funny because it brings us together through us fighting,” he said.

Côte d’Ivoire rising like a phoenix from the ashes

Before the start of the tournament, Côte d’Ivoire would have been among almost everybody’s group of favourites to lift the AFCON trophy. Not only did they have one of the best squads on paper in the tournament, but they were also hosting the competition. 

After a 2-0 win against Guinea-Bissau to open the tournament, they lost 1-0 to Nigeria and 4-0 to Equatorial Guinea to finish the group stage. Things looked so bad for Côte d’Ivoire that head coach Jean-Louis Gasset even resigned after the group stage. However, due to multiple favourable results in other groups, they finished as the fourth-best third-place team, the last qualifying spot for the round of 16.

The round of 16 marked the beginning of a dramatic redemption story. It saw Côte d’Ivoire eliminate reigning champion Senegal on penalties. In the quarter-finals, they scored in the 90th minute to force extra time, scoring yet again in the last minutes of extra time to beat Mali. A 1-0 win in the semifinal over the Democratic Republic of the Congo set up a rematch with Nigeria in the final. To the delight of the home crowd, they would win it by the score of 2-1, after two second-half goals by Franck Kessié and Sébastien Haller.

Nearly a first title in 11 years for Nigeria

Before the knockout round, The Concordian spoke with many Nigerian students during an inter-university soccer tournament organized by Concordia’s Nigerian Students Association. These students shared what they believe it would have meant for them to see their country win the AFCON for the first time since 2013.

Faisal Audu was pessimistic about Nigeria’s winning chances. “I really hope we can win because I’m not really positive about them. But it’s gonna be a good thing if we can win. Because I’m gonna brag a lot,” he said while smiling. “I have friends from countries that are better than us, like Senegal.”

Josh Njoku is a big supporter of the Nigerian national soccer team. “I support the Nigerian national team a lot, more than the usual Nigerian, you know? Despite all the mess-ups and all the bad times, I continue to support the players,” he said. A win after 11 years would indeed have meant a lot for supporters like Njoku.


Montreal freezes to a stop

Many students had to find new ways to study, as households lost power and internet

As finals approach, students are mustering up the strength to open up their textbooks one last time. However, nature decided to create some bumps in the road.

The city of Montreal ground to a halt two weeks ago due to freezing rain, forcing students to find creative new ways to study. The freezing rain started on Wednesday, April 5, and it soon created a spectacular landscape of ice. On Thursday morning, 1,114,750 households throughout Quebec did not have power. 

That night, Concordia alumni Danny Gold was walking home from his French class. As he walked down the street towards his home, he noticed that fallen branches were blocking the way. 

He hesitated, wondering if he should climb over them or find another way home. He eventually decided to go over the branches. 

“About two seconds after I step over these branches,” he recalled, “I take three steps, I hear ‘snap snap snap’ and then ‘boom!’ five feet behind me, a whole tree branch just came off the top of a tree and slammed on top of a car.”

The branch was around six inches thick, Gold estimated. It was thick enough to crack the windshield of the car behind him. 

The timing of the outages also coincided with Passover. Gold explained that offering help is an important part of the holiday, and of Judaism.

“If somebody knocks on your door, randomly, or messages you, someone you know, someone you don’t know, and they’re asking for shelter, for some food, any sort of help that you can provide from your home, it’s the biggest thing in Judaism to invite that person in your home, for nothing.”

Gold lives on the Plateau Mont-Royal, and his apartment was spared by the outages. So when a friend texted him asking for a place to warm up and charge their electronics, Gold was happy to help. He extended the invitation to coworkers, friends, and family. At some point, six people were crowding Gold’s Plateau apartment. 

For many Concordia students, losing power and heat was only part of their worries, as the threat of finals loomed on the horizon. 

Abilash Gunaratnam, a first-year Concordia science foundations student, lives in the West Island. He lost power from Thursday afternoon to Sunday morning. He also lost cell reception at the beginning of the outage. 

“The first two days, I was waiting for the power to come back on,” he said. “I had to get back to my school work, exams were coming, and I was stressed out. Exams weren’t too far away, and I needed to study.”

Gunaratnam initially thought the power would be back by early Friday morning. When that did not happen, he and his family decided to go stay with family members in Laval. 

“I was already behind, and then I got even more behind,” he said. “Since I had no power, I couldn’t study, so on Saturday I had to cover eight chapters [twice as much as planned.] And I had work on that day too.”

Matthew Erskine is a first-year computer science student. He lives in Pierrefonds and lost power from Wednesday night to Saturday morning.

Erskine was not overly worried about losing study time over the weekend, since most of his final assignments and exams were at the very end of the semester. He decided to go into school on Thursday morning to study and charge his electronics. 

“After the power came back on, I was just focused on not stressing too much,” he said. 

“In the grand scheme of things, it was just an inconvenience,” he added. “But needing food, that was the number one thing. Everything in our fridge was basically gone.”

Concordia itself was spared from the worst of the storm. According to the university’s spokesperson, Vannina Maestracci, neither campus lost power, and the facilities were open to students in need of power or internet.

Further accommodations like extensions were left in the hands of professors, said Maestracci, as the effects of the outages were very different throughout the island. 


Concordia 3, Carleton 1: The Stingers have caught fire and are a breath away from a championship

The underdog upset has actually been completed.

The Concordia Stingers, who had just 31 points and 13 wins in the regular season, have swept the OUA’s top team, the Carleton Ravens.

These are the Ravens that shutout the Stingers in the first game of the year, finished the season with 49 points and just four losses, and were ranked as the third best team in Canada.

Not one word of that mattered when the Stingers took the ice Saturday night.

“The good guys came out on top,” said Stingers defenceman Carl Neill.

In an arena with a crowd that spent the night cheering and chanting (a few creative ones got thrown Carleton’s way, particularly by the Stingers football players in attendance), the Stingers’ play was as electric as the atmosphere that threatened to blow the roof off the Ed Meagher Arena.

Like last week against McGill, the Stingers were a model of efficiency.

They generated chances from different areas to keep the Ravens defense guessing, the controlled play with simple, smartly executed rushes, and they shut down almost every chance that came their way.

It wasn’t always pretty. It was always smothering, fast, and effective.

The team was roaring at every level of play. Their forwards were pushing the Ravens into their own end and forcing them to scramble. The D broke up play after play while joining the rush and goalie Kyle Jessiman showed up big (more on him later).

The second period against the Ravens may have been their best of the season. Three goals, over 20 shots, few chances against, and a sense of dominance.

“It looked like the ice was tilted in their end. The puck wasn’t getting out and we had a bunch of  chances. When they did get a few chances, [Jessiman] stood on his head,” said Neill.

While the game was a good example of every player rolling, Jessiman and a few others shined. The rookie goalie shut down everything, earning chants of “MVP” from the crowd, particularly after two late saves in the second that both looked like sure goals.

The team’s second line was also unstoppable. Jean-Philippe Beaulieu played the game of his life, scoring two goals and stymieing Carleton chances all night. He, along with Chase Harwell and Felix Lauzon shut down Carleton while creating chance after chance offensively.

“I wouldn’t even say it’s the second line. I’d say it’s a 1a/1b situation. That’s huge for us. That depth is what you need in the playoffs,” said rookie Tyler Hylland.

Now the Stingers find themselves in the OUA East finals. Two wins from a spot at nationals. It’s been a bumpy road, but one that they feel has made them stronger.

They battled for their position in the standings all season, finishing fifth in the division.

The Stingers were plagued with injuries, losing both starting goaltenders, their top veteran forward for half the year, one of their top rookie recruits, and up to eight players on a given night.

They also dealt with several suspensions, including one to one of their top players in Neill. Adversity has been a frequently used word around the team.

We were frustrated by bad luck. Injuries, suspensions. It felt like we could never get our full team out there,” said Hylland.

The team believed in itself though. One thing kept being repeated: “when we’re at our best we can compete with anyone in the country.”

It may have sounded off early in the year, but when they caught fire after Christmas, when the team was finally healthy and added Jessiman in net and Lauzon on the wing, it began to look more and more true.

They were competing with, and beating, top teams. All of a sudden the offense was potent and they were allowing fewer and fewer goals.

[We’re] starting to play like the team that we are,” said Neill.

Now, they’ve solidified themselves as true contenders. They’ve beaten rival McGill in a close series and swept one of the best teams in the country. They’re riding the high of underdog wins against teams that they certainly don’t like.

The mood is great for the Stingers.

“This is one of the best years in my entire career,” said Sanche. “The guys are having fun and it shows on the ice. We’ve been having fun since after Christmas. Even when we lost four in a row. Then we just started rolling. The boys got onto the bus and they’re playing simple, great hockey.”

The Stingers will take on the Ottawa Gee Gees in the OUA East Final, a team they had a 2-1-0 record against in the regular season.

While they may not have entered the playoffs at the top of the standings, they came into the postseason winning four games in a row and six of their last seven. Back then, Hylland said that regardless of their position in the standings, teams knew they didn’t want to play Concordia.

Two playoff series and another four game win streak later, and the Stingers have certainly proven that they’re not a team anyone should look forward to facing.


Photos by Alex Hutchins

Student Life

The art of being single: Finals season and procrastination

Ah finals season: the final grind to the end of the semester, the last stretch until freedom from schoolwork and classes for just a couple of weeks.

This time is marked by the multiple 10-page or more term papers done the day before, professors cramming the last few topics from the syllabus into the last lecture, and then the beginning of studying for final exams in a few weeks.

If you’re anything like me, it’s also a time that is marked by the most procrastination of the semester.

I find anything to do other than my assignments: tweet way too much about how I hate my life, end up on random Russian chef pages after spiraling through Instagram’s explore page, purge my closet/makeup/Facebook friends, stare at a wall while having an existential crisis (that happens a lot).

If I weren’t on a dating app hiatus, I would also be using my procrastination time to swipe right and match with fellow Concordians also using dating apps as a way to procrastinate. One guy a few years ago gave me an idea for a column, and another one at the end of last semester offered me their charger as my laptop was going to die less than an hour before I had to submit a paper (guess who procrastinated and waited until the last minute).

Safe to say, everyone was just using dating apps as a way to procrastinate until the hallowing anxiety and overwhelming stress of a looming deadline shift your butt into drive to get your assignments done.

At the start of last week, I was severely contemplating redownloading Tinder or Bumble just to pass the time – I was bored and really didn’t want to write my paper that was due the next day.

I tweeted that I was thinking about it and my friends came to the rescue, reminding me why I wasn’t using them in the first place. They made good points: I had come so far, it’s not worth my time, and a stranger/now mutual also slid into my DMs to remind me why I deleted these apps in the first place. I was quickly brought back to reality and I realized that, while I wanted to procrastinate until the stress kicked my butt into gear, I didn’t want to spend my time aimlessly swiping and landing on matches that I wouldn’t talk to after finals season came to an end.

Find a better way to procrastinate – maybe take a nap instead. Or, you know, just do your work, kids.


The harsh realities of burnout culture

As I open the 47th window on my computer and prepare myself to fill this blank document with thoughts, opinions and rhetoric I hope you’ll find interesting, to my surprise, my computer shuts down.

A black screen is a daunting thing to see when you have so much to do — 12 articles, 11 soulful yet professional cover letters, 10 tests, nine unread emails and a partridge in a pear tree.

As I trudged through the snow to use a library computer to finish my work, I couldn’t help but think that sometimes I feel like my laptop.

Yes boomers — I just said I feel like my laptop, okay?

I’m the kind of person that doesn’t do well without structure, so when my system feels like it’s about to shut down, I often excuse the emerging breakdown with phrases like, “I thrive when I’m busy,” “The more time I have, the more I waste,” “I’d be bored if I did less” or the classic, “I don’t burnout.”

Listen, no one is above burnout culture. Not Oprah, Elon Musk or even that friend that seems like they are constantly balancing a million internships and projects at once. As a research professor at the University of Houston and a recent public figure, Brené Brown says, “your body keeps score, and always wins.” Brown is alluding to the fact that we need to engage with self-reflection and self-awareness in order to live our best lives, pardon the cliche.

At this point, you might think that this is just another article telling you to slow down, smell the flowers, kiss your dog, go for a run and call your mother — in which case you are absolutely right. Telling people to slow down, live mindfully and engage with their life meaningfully is not new, but at the same time should constantly be part of the conversation.

We are trained as students, as workers and as humans in general, that the only way we have a purpose in this confusing world is through being productive. This philosophy is ingrained in us to function in the cold, fast, capitalistic world we live in. If we are not moving forward, we are moving backwards. If our economies are not getting bigger, faster, stronger, then what’s the point? It’s important that we understand this system, to combat it.

Some public figures are restructuring their philosophy to promote a healthier lifestyle.

Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, has been advocating for the prioritization of sleep for a few years now. In an interview with National Geographic, she explained that we are currently in “a moment of transformation.”

“What stops people from prioritizing sleep is the fear that somehow they’re going to miss out, said Huffington. We have so many phrases that confirm that – “You snooze, you lose,” “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

It’s important to remember we are doing our best. If you need to ask for an extension, miss a class, postpone an interview or what have you, don’t beat yourself up. We are all struggling to grapple with showing up for ourselves, listening to our instincts while also trying to succeed. The reality is, if you are constantly pushing yourself and spreading yourself too thin, then you won’t be able to show up the way you want to in every part of your life. You’ll be tired, you won’t be present, and even if you don’t burnout right away, it will happen.

So in the name of showing up for myself and listening to my body, I’ll end this article here. Quite like my computer, I’m shutting down — or at least on sleep mode. Goodnight. 


Photo by Britanny Clarke / Graphic @sundaeghost


How to prepare yourself for the apocalypse

The birds are chirping, the snow is melting, and the sun is shining. But most of us are probably too preoccupied to be admiring these beautiful changes. Instead, we’re preparing for the apocalypse: finals are coming. It’s not unusual for students to be panicked, anxiety-ridden and stressed out at this time of year. This is why we at The Concordian thought this editorial could be useful for students facing these obstacles.

According to the 2013 National College Health Assessment, 33 per cent of Canadian post-secondary students are stressed. Among those people, 27.4 per cent have anxiety issues and 21.3 per cent have sleep problems. We all know how the accumulation of stress from homework and finals preparation can affect our sleeping schedule. Most of us stay up much later than we should to catch up on readings and assignments we left until the last minute. Our go-to substance is coffee, and although it might help us feel more productive, coffee actually increases anxiety, according to a 2010 study conducted by the experimental psychology department at the University of Bristol.

We might also find ourselves relying on comfort food to feel better, like ice cream or macaroni and cheese. But according to Harvard Health Publishing, while these foods release brain chemicals that help us feel good in the moment, processed foods are higher in sugar and caffeine which can cause our body more distress in the long run. So, in the fight against stress, start by picking up a couple of blueberries which contain antioxidants that improve our reaction to stress. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are also known to alleviate depression and fatigue, according to the same source. Zinc in cashews can help reduce anxiety; spinach can produce dopamine in the brain and calm you down; milk’s Vitamin D can boost happiness; and carbohydrates in oatmeal help the brain produce serotonin and essentially battle stress.

Students can also look to Concordia for help. The Stress Management page on Concordia’s website in the Healthy Living section includes a stress management worksheet that can help students identify their stressor and offers possible stress management strategies. A list of ways to combat stress includes deep breathing, massages, exercise, meditation, working on hobbies or developing new ones, as well as spending time with loved ones.

Campus services also include the Zen Den, a place where students can find peace and serenity when they feel overwhelmed or stressed out. It’s open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Zen Den is located in GM 300 on the downtown campus and includes comfortable seating, warm lighting and soothing images. It also has resources to practice stress reduction and workshops that can help with your wellbeing. Staff members are present to provide techniques for self-care, and upcoming workshops will be based on mindfulness, anxiety and panic attacks, as well as positive psychology.

Concordia also offers counselling and psychological services to help students maintain their mental health, as well as gymnasiums and fitness centres for students looking to relieve tension and boost their physical health.

It’s easy to feel alone and helpless when our stress is a huge, seemingly all-too powerful monster. But it’s important to remember that help is available, through Concordia and through easy at-home remedies. Take the time to eat healthy foods to boost your mood and reduce your stress. Take a nap, avoid the coffee and go outside for a walk. If you feel severely overwhelmed or panicked, reach out to Concordia’s counselling and psychological services to book an appointment with a professional.

On a more positive note, at least we’re all on this stress-filled boat together.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth


Staff picks for the best study albums

A bit of easy listening for your end-of-semester woes

At its most effective, music is an artform that evokes a physical response. Whether you’re dancing, moshing or grooving along, the medium creates a sense of euphoria that can’t be replicated. But sometimes you just need a good album to put you in the zone. Here are our staff picks for the best albums to study to.

Alt J – An Awesome Wave

Katya Teague, editor-in-chief

Alt J’s sleeper-hit debut, An Awesome Wave, is mired in Radiohead-style electronica and indie-rock quirks. Twisting and turning from art rock tendencies to a cappella vocal interludes and jangly guitar rock, Alt J channels immediate pop accessibility without compromising their more experimental leanings. The record is rich with a variety of sounds but maintains a palette of glitch-heavy electronica beats at the album’s forefront.

Homeshake – Midnight Snack

Maggie Hope, arts editor

Homeshake’s Midnight Snack is a comforting indie LP laden with spacey R&B textures and an overall laid-back ambience. Known for his stint as Mac DeMarco’s back up guitarist, leading man Peter Sagar composes songs with a kind of easy-breezy infectiousness that actually comes off as more earnest than its slacker demeanor suggests. Locking into moods that soundtrack rainy days, Sagar adopts a delicate falsetto and pairs it with bubbling synths and bass to compose an album that’s utterly relaxing in its lethargic moments.

Luciano Pavarotti – Nessun Dorma

Kenneth Gibson, video editor

Nessun Dorma is an expressive aria melody from the final act of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot. The song achieved mainstream success after Luciano Pavarotti’s recording was used as the main theme for the BBC’s coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. The song has long been established as a seminal piece of opera. That reputation is undoubtedly felt, as the album of the concert went triple platinum in the United States and went on to be the most sold classical recording in the world.

Antonio Vivaldi – The Four Seasons

Candice Pye, news editor

The Four Seasons is a series of four violin concerti by famed Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi. Each piece is an expression of the four seasons in a year. Vivaldi published the concerti with a set of sonnets that eluded to each season the music was meant to represent. This is one of the very first instances of music structured with a narrative component.

Beach House – Depression Cherry

Alex Hutchins, photo editor

Beach House fluctuates between a dynamic dichotomy of beauty and melancholy. The duo’s 2015 effort, Depression Cherry, dials back on the muddy lo-fi production of their early work in exchange for a lushly orchestrated experience filled with dazzling instrumentation and vocal performances that are the stuff of dreams. The album spins in a web of its own ethereality, unperturbed by outside forces, and instead focused on progressing with sounds of grace and beauty.

Nosaj Thing – Parallels

Kirubel Mehari, assistant photo editor

This project from L.A. producer Jason Chung is a dissonant collection of meditative soul grooves. Chung mixes various genres into a synthesis of unique musical flavours, dipping his toes in everything from neo-soul to trap. The melodies are rich with layers, but the approach is minimalistic, revealing subtle embellishments in the mix.

24/7 Live Youtube Lo-fi Mixes

Matthew Coyte, assistant sports editor

These mixes on Youtube interweave hip-hop instrumentation with a lo-fi aesthetic, culminating in a millennial interpretation of ambient music. The beats are basically wallpaper music, creating an effective mood for zoning out, chilling out or simply getting lost in your mind. The artists and song names are usually never mentioned, creating a sense of ambiguity while maintaining a linear listening experience.

Hans Zimmer – Inception: Music from the Motion Picture

Mia Anhoury, assistant life editor

The soundtrack to Christopher Nolan’s accomplished film Inception is towering in breadth and absolutely halting in its approach. The sounds aren’t exactly the most complex in the world, but composer Hans Zimmer uses this minimalism to create an emotionally harrowing atmosphere out of a mere three or four droning tones.

Andrea Bocelli – Romanza

Nicholas Di Giovanni, sports editor

Despite it being a compilation album, Andrea Bocelli’s Romanza was the singer’s first release in the United States and Canada. It is widely considered Bocelli’s most accomplished work, selling over 20 million units worldwide and garnering the Italian singer an international following in the process. On top of that, the album topped charts all around the world, further cementing Bocelli’s status as an operatic pop icon.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

Student Life

A cup of coffee and a spoonful of psychological effects

The impact caffeine has on Canadians and how it became a cultural dependence

It’s 8 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, and the first thing you do after getting out of bed is probably make coffee. Whether you are having a shot of espresso, an Americano or a latte, there is nothing like that coffee aroma filling up your kitchen. As you pour it into your mug, add a splash of milk or teaspoon of sugar, you can already feel the warmth rising from the cup. Finals are right around the corner and, for many students, coffee is the go-to beverage for all-nighters and staying alert.

This is no surprise given that caffeine, the stimulant in the coffee, is a psychoactive substance that has physiological and psychological effects. Coffee is also ingrained in our society. According to the Coffee Association of Canada, Canadians drink an average of 3.2 cups of coffee per day. Here is a deeper look at how caffeine actually affects your body and how it has become a vital part of our daily lives.

What does coffee do to your brain and body?

According to Uri Shalev, a Concordia psychology professor whose research focuses on drug abuse and behavioural neurobiology, caffeine typically doesn’t have many negative effects when consumed in reasonable quantities. However, when a person drinks coffee, Shalev explained, the caffeine interferes with signals in the brain being sent from neurotransmitters to their receptors. Caffeine acts as an antagonist, essentially blocking the adenosine receptors, which are inhibitory sensors in the brain that calm the body and mind.

Since caffeine interferes with this calming effect, the body becomes more alert and awake, Shalev explained. That is why drinking coffee increases heart rate and blood pressure, and keeps you awake longer. The physiological effects caused by this over-stimulation can negatively affect a person’s mental state. Sylvia Kairouz, a Concordia sociology professor and the chair of research on gambling addiction, emphasized the risks of sleep deprivation caused by excessive coffee consumption. Since coffee keeps you alert, it also risks disrupting your sleep cycle, which isn’t something you want to happen during a stressful period like finals, Kairouz said.

According to Shalev, the physical reaction coffee causes can result in increased anxiety among people who are already prone to anxiety. This happens when the body interprets a faster heart rate and increased alertness as a sign of danger and raises stress levels. “I become stressed when I have more coffee than I’m used to,” said Sara Betinjaneh, a second-year political science student at Concordia.

Yet many students, including first-year sociology major Yasmin Mehri, rely on coffee to stay awake to study or finish assignments. Drinking coffee to stay up late can work to a certain extent, but too much can cause an imbalance in sleeping patterns, Kairouz explained. “It’s a loss more than a gain when you are not adopting a healthy lifestyle during finals,” she said. “Students should focus on an equilibrium.” Shalev reiterated that, as long as coffee consumption is moderate, it is not considered an addiction—not until it negatively affects the functioning of your daily life.

Why is coffee part of your day?

“My day is organized around my coffee,” said student Betinjaneh. “That’s when I take breaks.” According to Kairouz, “the ritual, the habit and the routine of having coffee daily limits the capacity to remove coffee from our daily life.” This dependence on the drink is also sociological because there is a whole experience that comes with drinking coffee, she explained. Drinking coffee has become a very popular social activity—when people meet up, it often happens over a cup of coffee.

“There is a connection that exists in people’s lives between working or studying and drinking coffee,” Kairouz said. The accessibility of coffee also plays a huge role in society’s growing dependence on coffee. Kairouz offered the example of Montreal’s Mackay Street, where there are at least six coffee shops. “I love the idea and the feeling of sitting in a coffee shop and having my coffee,” Betinjaneh said. The stimulation from an environment filled with coffee shops has impacted our caffeine consumption, Kairouz said.

Easy access to caffeine has impacted the amount we consume since a single press of a button can make our coffee right at home. According to the Coffee Association of Canada, coffee makers are increasingly popular in Canadian homes with 47 per cent of households owning a drip coffee makers and 38 per cent using single-cup machines. Kairouz added that the consumerist environment we live in plays a role in people’s coffee dependence as well. Since coffee has become ingrained in our culture, this leaves a looming question: are we having coffee because we need it or because we just walked by a cute coffee shop that serves the best latte art?

Photo by Kirubel Mehari.

Student Life

Some handheld help for school

Three apps to help you through that final end-of-semester push

It’s that time of the semester when you feel like you might be drowning. As university students are forced to juggle adult responsibilities, end-of-semester deadlines and exams, time management becomes more important than ever.

For us students, it sometimes feels like there simply aren’t enough hours in a day to tick off every item on our to-do lists.  Luckily, the app store is never short on useful apps to help guide us through our studies, and help us survive the end of our semester.

Get Revising

Screenshot courtesy of Danielle Gasher

This app and website allow you to quickly create a schedule tailored to your individual study needs. The app lets you fill in information about the classes you’re taking, your target grade and the classes and assignments you deem a ‘priority.’

Get Revising also allows you to block off time slots when you are not available to study. These blocks of time can include hours during which you have class, work or other important commitments, and the app essentially helps you work around those commitments. Deadlines and exam dates can also be added to the schedule.

Students can then choose the time they want to begin their study sesh, and set a target for the number of hours they want to dedicate to that session. The site then combines the student’s priorities, deadlines and available study time to create coherent and realistic weekly study schedule.


It can be difficult to set aside time for breaks during your study sessions without feeling guilty.

Sometimes, a spontaneous, 10-minute break is all you need to power through the rest of an essay that’s due tomorrow.

Here’s where the Headspace app comes in handy.  You can have access to 10 free meditation exercises, and each session is 10 minutes long and guided by the soothing British accent of former Buddhist monk, Andy Puddicombe.

The sessions guide students through the process of deconstructing, decluttering and, eventually, reorganizing their mind in a more orderly manner. This app is perfect for when students need to take a step back from homework.

The sessions are organized by levels, allowing you to work your way up to more independent meditation sessions with less guidance.  It also creates a sense of achievement as users move up through the levels. Headspace allows listeners to reap the benefits of meditating without possessing the intellectual discipline of a Buddhist monk.



Screenshot courtesy of Danielle Gasher

Even when you’re sitting at a desk with every intention of getting work done, it can be difficult to actually focus. Some people study most efficiently in complete silence. Others need a little white noise. The myNoise app and website offer a plethora of realistic soundscapes and noise generators to fill the silence in a way that won’t distract you.

Among countless others, these include natural noises, such as rain on a tent, streams or the sounds of a rainforest.  You can also choose the calming sounds of a winter walk, an exam hall or a coffee shop, or synthetic noises, such as the classic white noise generator.

Additionally, each noise is highly customizable, allowing users to manually adjust which particular sounds they want to enhance.

With a strategic schedule, a clear head and a stimulating environment, the final weeks of the semester are sure to be more bearable thanks to these helpful study apps.

These free apps are available on iTunes for both android and apple phones.  

Student Life

A cup of joe with a side of homework

Studying for finals made easier thanks to these five student-friendly Montreal cafés

Café Oui Mais Non
72 Jarry St. East
Open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Wifi: yes
Outlets: many

Photo by Joyce Salem

A little far from downtown, this student-oriented café near Jarry metro is worth the detour for studying. A cup of coffee is cheaper here than in chains like Starbucks or Second Cup—perfect for a student budget.

Additionally, the café is conveniently divided into three “studying sections.” The first is a quiet section, where people only whisper. This section is perfect for a Concordian who prefers a library-style volume for studying. The next area is the come-and-go section. In this space, customers can grab a coffee, have a quick chat and dash. A third, more animated section is in the café’s small basement, where customers can chat as they please.

Table sizes vary, and the lighting is bright enough to keep you wide awake during a long day of hitting the books. While the lighting is strong, the atmosphere is relaxed, unlike a library, which can feel a little sterile and cold.

294 Ste-Catherine St. West
Open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Wifi: yes
Outlets: few

Photo by Joyce Salem

While supporting local artists by exposing their work, Anticafé presents its own creativity by offering a new student-café concept.

Rather than pay for what they consume, students pay for the hours spent in the café. It costs $3 for the first hour and $2 for each subsequent hour, for a maximum of $9 for a full day.

Not only is the rate ideal, but the studying arrangements are flawless. The owner converted a two-story apartment into a café, with every bedroom offering a space with tables and chairs. The rooms are useful for group projects or practicing for oral presentations.

The second floor of Anticafé is a little quieter, making it a better option if you have a harder time concentrating.

Crew Collective & Café
360 St-Jacques St.
Open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m on weekdays,
and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.
Wifi: yes
Outlets: many

Photo by Joyce Salem

Crew Collective & Café is located in the Old Port, near Square-Victoria-OACI metro, in what used to be a majestic and towering bank. For students who like to feel like royalty when studying, this is the place to go.

The café is so beautiful and spacious—it has even been used to take wedding photos.  Given the spaciousness and high ceilings, this place is ideal for people who like to study in open spaces.

It is also an interesting place to study alone or with a friend, because it feels like you are working in an office. The atmosphere offers the necessary motivation to get things done.

Small cubicle spaces are available for free next to the long main tables. Others cubicles, with access to a computer, cost $25 an hour. This café  also has a sofa lounge, for a more comfortable study experience.

While the food and coffee are exquisite, the prices are a bit higher, which is a bit of a downfall.  Lattés and cappuccinos are in the $5 range, and sandwiches and salads range from $10 to $15.

Café Aunja
1448 Sherbrooke St. West
Open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Wifi: yes
Outlets: many

Photo by Joyce Salem

Among the other options, Café Aunja is one of the closest to Concordia’s Loyola campus. It’s also one of the more charming options.

During the week, this spot can get packed, but on weekends the place slows down and students can have a couch or table to study comfortably at.

The music in the café is calming. The place isn’t dead quiet, chatter is part of the package, but as in many other cafés, chatter can quickly become quiet background noise.

Behind the counter, there’s a little living room-style section, where people usually take a break from studying while waiting for their coffee. The place is cozy and small, a kind of home-away-from-home nook for studying.

Toi, Moi & Café
2695 Notre-Dame St. West
Open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays,
and from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends.
Wifi: yes
Outlets: few

Photo by Joyce Salem

At this little bistro near the Lionel-Groulx metro station, students have the option of starting their day with a latte and ending it with a celebratory glass of wine. The experience includes table service and friendly staff.

Outlets to plug computers are harder to come by here, but there are nevertheless a few spread out around the bistro.

The tables are far apart, making this place ideal for students who prefer to be in their bubble and forget there are other people are around them.

It might seem odd to study in a bistro, but the soft jazz music and relaxed vibe at Toi, Moi & Café make the place just as ideal for an end-of-term study sesh as any other café.

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