There’s no denying that university study can take up a lot of your time and leave you trying to make that difficult decision between a beer at the pub with your mates or reading that textbook chapter that you should have done yesterday. In fact, if I were to add up the amount of time I’ve spent pondering such difficult decisions (for me it is travel versus study!) I’d probably be very surprised! But I am a traveller and if I kept my feet firmly on the ground every time I had an assignment that was due, or a quiz to study for, I would be missing out on enjoying the other part of my life. There definitely is a lot of work that goes into being a successful student, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy life as well!
I live overseas (in Istanbul, Turkey) and often find myself distracted by new places in the city to explore that I’ve only just heard about or cheap airfares to a destination I’ve already been dreaming about! I’m also distracted when the next episode of Grey’s Anatomy, Bones, or The Mentalist is released. And then there was the rare type of snow (thundersnow – yes, it is a real thing!) that recently fell on this beautiful city – I just had to go out and play in that! Having previously tried to ignore such wonderful distractions, I found that I was becoming a bore (in my own words of course – my friends were too kind to tell me this!) and was heading towards burnout. And that’s why I made the decision to live a little too. I am a person after all and being a student is only one part of me – I am a Grey’s Anatomy fan (to name but one tv show!) and traveller extraordinaire as well!
There was a time last semester when I was trying to write an assignment and getting nowhere. I just couldn’t get ‘in the zone’ and the hours were slowly (very slowly!) ticking away. I was drowning in persistence, but progress was non-existent. Eventually I had had enough and decided to watch an episode of one of my favourite tv shows. I watched two episodes in fact. And you know what? Right after that I was transported into ‘the zone’ and I was able to write a fairly decent draft of that assignment. It was this experience that made me realise that I had been denying myself so many of the usual relaxing times, these other things which make up ‘me’ as a person and it had affected my ability to study. All I needed was a little fun and relaxation and I was back to being a productive student again.
But what does that mean for you, you might wonder? Well, next time something fun comes along, don’t immediately deny yourself the occasion simply because you are a student. Live in the moment – give yourself the gift of enjoying the other parts of your life alongside your study. Of course you can’t do this every single time – you need to find the right balance after all. But you can choose wisely: if you feel like going to the cinema, choose a shorter movie; if you want to go to a restaurant for dinner, choose one with fast service (and don’t order a whole bottle of wine!); if you want to take a trip abroad, choose a nearby destination to save time travelling… or do as I do and take your textbooks with you and study on the plane!
There are plenty of ways to enjoy your life while also being a dedicated and successful student and it’s really important to find the right balance. I’d love to hear your stories and tips on the balancing act of being a student and nurturing the others parts of your life!