We have reached the point of the semester where everyone seems to be in a constant cycle of midterms, assignments and general stress about whether they will pass their paper. As a result, I got thinking- how does volunteering fit into student life?
A seemingly mythical concept, a term casually thrown around by lecturers, tutors and Instagram famous health gurus. However no amount of acai bowls and activewear can really show you what balance actually looks and feels like. Sometimes life just feels like an endless vortex of deadlines, tests, part-time jobs and desperately clinging to your social life.
One of the most common things we hear at Unicrew is “I really want to volunteer but I don’t have a lot of time.” We totally get it! It’s not always easy to balance student commitments with the other cool things you want to do. Some people have time to give generously and others do not. This is where that balance thing comes in.
Balance looks different for everyone. Some people are slightly superhuman and appear to do more in a day than most people do in a week. Other people like to have plenty of time to get things done at their own pace. Balance for some people is being able to guilt-free Netflix binge with the flatties or being able to go to that party on Saturday night. Work out what is important to you and what you need to feel good, mentally and physically. There’s a saying for this: “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” It’s totally true. You don’t want to burn out trying to be a superhuman when it’s perfectly okay to just be a pretty awesome human (which you already are, by the way).
So back to volunteering. How can you fit it into your student life? Maybe you have a pretty intense course and you don’t want to commit a lot of time long term. Try some street appeals or one-off volunteering days! These don’t require you to commit long-term, and most only ask for a couple of hours of your time. If you have a bit more time on your hands, you could try a more regular commitment like mentoring a young person, being a companion for the elderly or joining a language support programme. If interacting with people super frequently isn’t your thing, that’s cool too! Do you have some skills that could be useful to a volunteer organisation? Sometimes there are awesome opportunities that you can complete from the comfort of your home. Go check out the Unicrew database at https://careerhub.otago.ac.nz/workgroups/unicrew or pop into the office and chat to Sze-En or another lovely crew member to find what works for you. There is no pressure to nail it first time, keep trying different things until you find the role for you.
I suppose my main point is that keeping your life balanced, productive and reasonably stress-free has no one size fits all solution.
Now go forth and get your acai bowl and activewear, and take on that world.