I have stress. Not an astonishing amount of it, not even a lot. Just a small daily amount I have accepted as ordinary. I always assumed it was normal to have this certain base level of stress and thus I accepted it. It was fairly easy to accept as I heard and still hear my peers talking about it. When you are a university or higher education student stress seems to be a part of how you function. If described objectively it would sound somewhat like this:
Student: curious, critical, forward thinking, stressed.
Confronting, nonetheless accurate, but then again, the truth isn’t there to be pretty. Why have we accepted this and where does this stress come from? In my opinion, student stress can be broken down in three factors, study, money, and social stress.
Study stress seems obvious but actually isn’t. Why is it that we assume studying is stressful? It shouldn’t have to be but the system is designed in a way where stress is woven into every fibre of the bachelor or master.
A bachelor can be accomplished in 3 short years! *Terms and conditions apply
*In order to get a degree in 3 years you have to pass every single course in one try, trying more than once will provide a delay. Resits can only be taken when your end grade is higher than a 4 and lower than a 5.5. Graduation is only possible in one of four study paths; more study paths can provide a delay. Going abroad is a possibility, but must be scheduled a minimum of a year beforehand. Going abroad can provide a delay.
It turns out that this degree you are expected to get in 3 years could become 4 or even 5 years, and that is stressful. Which leads us to my next point: stress about money.
Studying is expensive when you are an international, but also as an ordinary Dutch student. Even though paying rent in Utrecht is a privilege as a student, it doesn’t come cheap. A lot of students work next to their studies which students in the past aren’t used to doing. There is a bright side to money stress though. I personally live with so many unique and loving people and do so much fun stuff, that paying this money is absolutely worth it. A way to decrease my study stress is usually to increase my money stress.
The last one is social stress, the most complex one. It doesn’t always need to be present, but everyone has it every once in a while. How could you not? Studying in Utrecht means a new party every day you can go to. Logically, if you go to all, your study stress will increase (and probably your money stress too). If you go to none, your social stress will increase. Sometimes it feels like a student is a figure in Greek mythology, wanting it all, but every action has the consequence where you have to give up something else. The worst part is, we have accepted that.
I don’t know when exactly, or why, but we did. Stress is a daily, unhealthy, part of our lives and changing it will be hard but not impossible. Already people in higher university organs are trying to make our lives a bit more doable. What we can do is accepting that being ‘busy’ all the time is not a good thing. It shouldn’t be admirable to answer the question: ‘How are you?’ with busy. I would much rather answer: ‘everything under control’.