What I’ve Learned From 8 Years of Studying – Part 2

Hey all!

Over a year ago now, I wrote the Part 1 post of this and said that Part 2 would follow a few weeks later… OOPS!
I wrote the Part 2 post, but with exams and stuff, I forgot to actually post it. I realised last week when I was going through some stuff, so I decided to post it for you guys now.

If you haven’t already read the Part 1 post, I’d recommend going and reading that first.


What I’ve Learned From 8 Years of Studying – Part 2

8. Making friends is easy – making lasting friendships takes longer
You will meet at least one person on the first day – maybe your roommate, the person you sat next to in orientation, a random that you meet wandering around on campus – but that person will not necessarily become your “best friend”. That person may not even progress to being an actual “friend”. That is OK.
Keep talking to different people, even after you think you’ve found your “core group”. You may find someone who you never though you’d be friends with at all, but then they end up being the one who is there to support you when everything goes to s***.

9. Sitting on the fence is fine – particularly in regards to people
You do not have to actively like or dislike anyone. This seems to be something that a lot of people have difficulty understanding. You can “nothing” someone – and by that I mean you can have no real feelings about a person in either a positive or negative direction.
There are plenty of people in my classes who I talk to when I see them in class, but I honestly feel nothing about them. I do not like or dislike these people. I do not actively pursue friendship with them, but neither do I actively avoid them. This is an idea I recommend you get used to while at university, because it is important for your working life. You WILL NOT be able to have emotions about every single person you work with, and you need to be able to deal with this and still work with people effectively.

10. Schedule ‘downtime’
Find something you enjoy doing, and schedule time for it. It could be cooking, spending time with friends, playing computer games, crafting, reading, or even watching TV.
Schedule this downtime. If you don’t, one of two things will happen – either you will work until you drop, or you’ll do the thing you enjoy heaps and ignore the stuff you should be doing.
How you organise this time will depend on your preferences – some people prefer to have a little bit of time every day, where as others prefer to have one whole day ‘off’ once a week. If you’re not sure, try both and see what works best for you, then stick with it.

11. Always have a snack with you
Having snacks with you will help keep your energy up and reduce the chances of you getting distracted due to hunger pangs. Bringing your own snacks is both more convenient and cheaper – you can’t really sneak out in the middle of a lecture without someone noticing, but you can generally nibble on some nuts without causing a disruption. Buying snacks from the cafeteria can also be quite expensive, and are often less healthy than what you bring yourself.
Stash things that are shelf-stable and reasonably un-crushable in your uni bag (like muesli bars, dried fruit, nuts, crackers) so that you always have something for snacking emergencies. You can pre-prep other more perishable snacks (like vege sticks, dips, fruit, cheese) in single-serve containers and store in the fridge for easy grabbing on the way out the door.
I also carry a stash of teabags and coffee sachets (the type with the creamer already added), in case I feel the need for something more than plain water. It is also worthwhile to carry your own cup or mug, as most cafes/coffee shops will give you boiling water for free if you have your own mug. If you have access to a tea room or student lounge with boiling water, that’s even more convenient!

12. Good food is important
Related to #12 – don’t fall into the trap of eating crappy convenience food. Your brain and your body will not thank you for it.
You need good food and a balanced diet to power your body and brain. If you’re on a meal plan, take an extra couple of seconds to evaluate the food options and their health merits. It might be as simple as adding some salad or steamed veges to your plate instead of that extra scoop of the (admittedly delicious) potato bake. If you cook for yourself, schedule some time every week to plan your meals and assemble them (along with your snacks).
I can speak from experience here – if you have a yummy meal in the fridge or freezer that will take <10 minutes to be ready to eat, you are far less likely to get takeaway, because it will take longer than what you already have on hand.
Research ‘copycat’ recipes, so that you can make your favourites and have them on hand when you have a craving for something (like mexican or chinese).

13. Get dressed
Even if you’re not planning on leaving your room/house, it really is worth getting changed out of your PJs into real clothes.
There seems to be something about wearing PJs all day that is the enemy of productivity. Getting changed (even if it’s just to put on trackpants instead) seems to say to your brain “OK, we’re going to do stuff today”.
If you’re feeling off or unwell, having a shower can also help you feel a little better.
Only wearing your PJs when you’re actually sleeping is also good for keeping your sleep patterns in check – association and conditioning are powerful things!

14. Housework is not your enemy
I am the first person to admit that I don’t particularly like housework. I always feel that it is taking away from other ‘more important’ work that I could be doing – which is actually rubbish.
As much as I have fought the idea for so long, a tidy living space really does help make you more productive. Clean, tidy spaces help calm the mind, and sometimes housework itself can be calming.
I don’t tend to like doing the dishes, folding washing, ironing, or cleaning the bathroom – but it all becomes far less onerous if you put on a TV show/movie you like, or listen to an audiobook/podcast.
If you feel like you really can’t afford to not be studying, watch lectures or summary videos of the topics you need to review.

15. Get active
Exercise helps you learn, and moving around freely (like walking in a park or hiking) can even increase your creativity! You won’t get the same creativity boost by walking on a treadmill, but any activity that isn’t sitting at your desk will help with a motivation slump.
Sometimes all you need to resurrect your motivation and focus is a quick active break – even a 10 minute walk around the block can help. If you’re feeling like you need a nap, try some quick exercise first – it will probably ward off the sleepy feelings.
The same principles apply to exercise as for housework – jazz it up by listening to an audiobook or podcast. You could also try doing some reading (textbook or recreational), or watching TV/lectures while on the treadmill or elliptical. Just BE CAREFUL – if you’re on anything with independently moving parts, getting distracted puts you at risk of getting injured. Stick to listening only if you’re jogging or running, you don’t want to get yourself hurt!


Hope you can find something helpful from this, and best of luck to you all for your studies!

~K

Sorry!

Apologies for being so very very slack over the last… god, 3 months? 4 months?… something like that.

Life has been super-busy, and somewhat stressful.

I did 4 weeks of prac this semester, as well as all my normal assignments, and then on top of that I got SICK and missed part of one of my prac weeks.
I now have to make up a week of prac, and I’m just waiting for the school to get back to me about when I’ll be doing that.
But since I’ve been sick, I’ve had trouble getting back up to where I was before. I don’t think I gave myself enough time to really properly get better, because everything has been back-to-back and I just couldn’t take the time off.

I’m just SO DAMN TIRED, and very distracted. Concentrating on anything is incredibly difficult 😦 My anxiety has been playing up again and I keep second-guessing myself, but I think I must be on a downward depression cycle as well because motivation is zero. I’ve just got to push myself through my exams, and  then in a week I’ll be DONE! Hopefully I can get through without breaking, because I have plans for the summer break and I don’t want to have to spend the whole time recovering.

~K

What I’ve learned from 8 years of studying – Part 1

I’m what you might call a ‘perpetual student’. I finished high school at the end of 2006, and since then I’ve only had 18 months where I haven’t been studying in some capacity.
My first attempt at uni only lasted 3 semesters – I was doing an Arts degree and by the end of that 3rd semester I hadn’t even decided what my major would be, so I figured I should take a break and work out what I wanted to do.
I got a job as a receptionist at an insurance company, and worked there for the 18 months of “no study” until I decided that I wanted to go back and study Psychology.
This year will be my 7th year straight of studying at university, and in that time I’ve finished the Psychology degree and started my second undergrad degree (Nursing).

I’ve learned a few things over the past 10 years, and I’d like to share them with you so you don’t have to find them out the hard way.

1. Uni is not real life
No matter how much  your uni tries to tell you that they’re educating you for the outside world – things are NOTHING like uni when you get there. Number 1 pet hate – lecturers saying “Group work at uni is good preparation for performing in a team in the workplace”. NOPE. For starters, you generally get people in the workplace who are actually experts (or at least experienced) in what the group is working on, so it’s not a case of “blind leading the blind” like it is in uni, and there’s almost always a clear group leader (also unlike uni groups).
You could do 1000 practical placements as part of your degree, but when you actually get to doing it as a job, you’ll find there’s a million things you haven’t learnt.
Learning does not stop at graduation.

2. Do your readings
Seriously – if the lecturer suggests you should read a chapter, you should at least LOOK at it. In-depth reading is not always required, and even skimming is better than not looking at it at all. Lecturers don’t set the readings for no reason.
Sometimes, those readings can be the difference between superficial and comprehensive understanding of a concept, and that can mean the difference between a Pass and a Distinction in the exam.

3. Lecturers really do want you to do well
They’re not all sitting there, conspiring to put super-difficult questions on the exam (OK, some might be, but most of them aren’t). I have never had a lecturer who wasn’t willing to help a student who needed it and ASKED FOR IT.
Remember, this isn’t high school – nobody is going to offer you help if you don’t ask for it. You need to seek out the assistance if you want/need it.
Attend your classes, talk to your lecturers, talk to your tutors, and if you have questions – ask them. If you need help, ASK. Which leads me to…

4. Don’t leave it too late
This applies to more than just assignments. Don’t let yourself get so stressed and unwell that your only option is to quit the class without at least speaking to your lecturer/school counsellor/admin office first. If you find yourself in a position where you aren’t coping, speak to someone about it early. There are usually heaps of resources available for students, from food banks and interest-free loans to free counselling or even additional tutoring. Depending on where you live, these things are typically either free or very low cost.
For example – there’s a food bank run by a local church in my area, and it’s $7 for a 6 month membership. You register the number of people in  your family and any dietary requirements, and you get free fruit & vegetables and “basics” like pasta, rice, bread, canned meat/fish, and milk, with other ‘luxury items’ (like biscuits, processed cereals, etc) available for a very low cost (e.g. $0.20 for a 500g box of sugary cereal).

5. Your physical and mental health are more important than your job or your marks
If you are sick, nothing will go right. I know that from experience.
If you’re working 30+ hours a week as well as studying full time, maintaining a house, and trying to actually see your friends and family, you’re going to burn out.
DON’T DO IT. If your school recommends only working a certain number of hours per week (e.g. my uni recommends 15hrs max if you have a full-time study load), try and stick to that. It will probably be hard. You’ll probably be poor. It will definitely mean reworking and prioritising things to save money where you can. But it is SO WORTH IT, particularly when you get awesome marks and make it to the end of semester without a nervous breakdown.
Find out what government payments/bursaries/scholarships you are eligible for, and apply for them all. Work heaps over the uni breaks and save the money for during semester.

6. Nobody cares if you wear the same things all the time
Honestly. It’s highly likely that no-one will even notice. If you know something suits you and you’re comfortable in it, wear it. Who cares if you wore the exact same thing last week? And denim all looks the same – nobody will realise that you have worn the same jeans 3 days in a row, as long as they look clean and don’t smell.
Have enough clothes for 2 weeks (this allows for exam/finals time when household chores tend to be low on the priority list). This is particularly important for underwear and socks. You can get away with re-wearing a shirt that you’ve already worn once, but it’s not a good idea to wear socks or underwear for more than one day without washing them (that’s a health thing, not just a “gross and smelly” thing).
If you’re still worried about what people will think, make it a uniform – if it’s intentional, it’s OK. Some of the best business people in the world have a “uniform”, because it reduces decision fatigue if you don’t have to think about what you’ll wear. Find a style of shirt you love, and buy it in 4 different colours. Get 3 pairs of the same jeans in different colour washes. Adding a different scarf or other accessories can completely change up an outfit.

7. Be yourself, but be open to new experiences
If you’re not a “big party” person, you don’t have to go to them. You don’t have to sit with people all the time for meals or between classes – no-one is going to judge you if your companion is a book. Highly likely that no-one will even notice, they’re all too busy worrying about their own stuff.
On the flip side, if you’re a super-sociable person, don’t always be surrounded by people. Take a little bit of time on your own to do things, even if it’s just going to the library on your own for a few hours. You may find you even enjoy this ‘alone time’.
That said, whether you like parties or not, if there’s a university-hosted dinner/conference centred around something you’re interested in, GET YO ASS THERE! You can probably start gaining networking contacts in  your future professional area. I got my job at the hospital through meeting someone at one of these sorts of events. They’re definitely worth the missed study time.


Part 2 will be up in a couple of weeks, once I’m done with mid-semester assessments.

~K

Semester is almost over!

I have now officially finished classes for the semester, and I’ve only got a little more than 2 weeks until my exams are all done too.

YAY HOLIDAYS!!!!!! Not-so-yay being the fact that OMG SUMMER IS HERE AND IT’S GOING TO BE DISGUSTINGLY HOT.

I’m aiming to get in a better habit of writing blog posts over the break though, so there should be a bit more reading material for you all!

I’ll probably disappear now until my exams are over. See you on the other side!

~K