by Lakshmi Sadhu
Welcome back, NC! I’m sure all of you are in high spirits, the New Year igniting your resolve, and fuelling your ambitions for the new academic semester. Those of you who stayed in Canada over the winter break have probably already dived headfirst into the semester, studiously keeping up with weekly readings and lying to yourself that you won’t ever again start an essay the night before it’s due. An unfortunate percentage of us, however, despite our well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions, are too encumbered with fighting an affliction that affects travellers everywhere – the infamous and much despised jet lag.
Jet lag is a necessary evil for those international students who go back home to their families on the other side of the planet for the winter holidays, or for those globetrotters who like to trade the dark days of North America’s wintertide for the sunshine and beaches of Barbados, even if it’s just for a short while. Unlike most other things in life, practice and experience don’t improve your resistance to jet lag. Every single time I experience jet lag feels like the very first time. It’s not a question of mind over matter, you can’t just will your body into submission when the internal cycle that regulates nearly all vital physiological processes – the circadian rhythm – is completely out of whack.
Without further ado, here are five struggles that every jet lagged student will be able to relate to…
1. Staying Awake
Trying to stay awake in class becomes an insurmountable challenge. As if “Fine Art History” wasn’t already boring enough, every word now uttered by the professor just becomes part of a beautiful lullaby that soothes you to sleep.
You will find yourself zoning in and out of conversations with people, much to their displeasure. Not because jet lag has suddenly made you indifferent and uncaring, but because you can now physically only pay attention to every other sentence that comes out of their mouth. “I am paying attention!”, you’ll earnestly try and convince them. They won’t believe you. Not with this constant expression stuck on your face.
Let’s not forget the constant yawning either. As if it isn’t bad enough already that your friends think you’re not paying attention to anything they’re saying, now everyone think you’re a jerk for yawning right in their face.
With your concentration and alertness suffering, it’s no surprise that your memory has also taken a severe hit. You will find yourself asking questions that your friends insist they already gave you the answer to two days ago, in addition to misplacing important personal items in the most random and obscure places.
This is probably the worst symptom of jet lag. If you love sports and working out, it’s probably best to take time off from the gym until your jet lag wears off. Unless you like being hit in the face with a football, or falling off a treadmill mid-sprint.
My heart goes out to my fellow New Collegians who are clumsy even on a good day. Apart from inducing it, jet lag only exacerbates pre-existing clumsiness. Stock up on bandages, and be prepared to spend two weeks bumping into table corners, tripping over your own feet, and dropping your precious $900 iPhone.
What other jet lag struggles do you face? Let me know in the comments below!