Marina Angel, a 3rd year co-op student, shares her story with loneliness on co-op and how she combated isolation. Loneliness is a common feeling for university students, and can affect your mental wellness and ability to cope in new environments. Learn more about Co-op Connection and how you can stay connected to campus.
“I’m lonely, bored, and spending wayyy too much time with my mom.”
This is what I tell my friend when she asks about my co-op placement. I was already a month into my first work term and was living at home in Ottawa to save money. While work was going fairly well, I was starting to feel isolated. I was the only undergraduate student in my unit and spent the majority of my day doing independent work in a corner cubicle. After work, I found myself constantly following my mom around, trying to tag along to her book club meetings and Pilates classes. I was so lonely, it got to the point where I would sit in my neighbourhood Starbucks and do my PD assignments, just to be in the presence of other people.
After the first month, I received a notification about an upcoming Co-op Connection bowling event and, for the first time, decided to attend. Fed’s Co-op Connection keeps co-op students connected to the University of Waterloo community while they are off campus on work terms. Through group events and activities organized by student leaders, this program helps co-op students who are working in the same city connect and support each other. While attending the event, I played a few rounds of bowling with a group of Waterloo students and befriended them almost instantly. We exchanged contact information and began organizing our own get-togethers on a regular basis. Whether it was rock-climbing, skiing, or going to escape rooms, we would meet up each week and find new ways to explore the city.
While my job placement for this particular work term was rewarding, my time spent with these friends resulted in even more fulfilling experiences. I came to realize that co-op terms are about more than just the job you get: they’re also about what you do when your workday is over. At the end of the day, your co-op term is made up of a combination of both your job and your spare time. How you choose to use this spare time can be the difference between a great work term, and a terrible one.
If there are any University of Waterloo co-op students feeling lonely or isolated while on work term, I strongly recommend attending a Co-op Connection event in your area. Visit the Fed’s Co-op Connection website to learn more about the program and find out if there’s a pre-existing Co-op Connection group in your city of work!