Find Time for Extracurricular Activities

University students should attend events and festivals in their field of study

(Nat Mussell)

Since graduating from Kwantlen Polytechnic University last year, I’ve come to realize that there is only one regret I have about my experience as a student: that I didn’t take part in more events and festivals while I could.

Granted, I was spending about 90 per cent of my time in a windowless room creating art while forgetting to eat and sporadically crying because either my pen had run out or I remembered the balance in my bank account. Realistically, between my full-time course load and nearly full-time work, I barely had time for hygiene, let alone attending a potentially day-long event.

Still, I wish I had just pounded back a coffee and made myself go.

Just recently I got the amazing news that I would have my own table at VanCAF, the Vancouver Comic and Arts Festival, which is a big annual event for artists, writers, and creators. While I’m thrilled to be there, if I had had this opportunity when I was back in school it would have given me not only the opportunity to meet others in my field, but also to find inspiration and motivation from their work.

This applies to all fields of study, not just art or anything creativity-based. Generally, it’s beneficial for students to network while in classes instead of just waiting to get your degree and then starting.

Sure, I’m now a part of the festival and get to experience, but knowing that I could have done it earlier annoys me. So do all of the other festivals, gallery openings, and shows I couldn’t get to because I was busy crying and exhausted in the back of the Grassroots staff area.

I know that, as a student, getting the motivation to take part in anything extracurricular, or anything at all outside of your studies, can be extremely difficult, but the doors it can crack open for you are worth it. Even briefly meeting people in your field can give you a bit of insight into what you are doing and which direction you want to go in.

People who have been doing what you want to do for years and are open to sharing their knowledge can give you a good kick in the butt, make you want to take your work more seriously, or simply inspire you to delve deeper into your career. There are plenty of events that are geared towards professional development, and sometimes all it takes is a quick Google search or a suggestion from a professor to find them.

I’m now taking part in VanCAF thanks to months of hard work and the nauseating amount of hours I put into my degree, but if I could go back in time, I would have gone to that gallery event I didn’t have the energy to go to then.

The reality is that there’s only so much you can learn from books and class. Sometimes the best opportunities for growth are in a room full of strangers hoping to learn the same thing as you.