Striking the Right Balance: Between Academic Life and Personal Wellbeing

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To tell you the truth, striking the right balance between academic commitments and other pursuits is easier said than done, especially for international students. There is a lot at stake, such as the costly tuition fees which may be paid by the generosity of Bank of Mum and Dad or scholarship funds.  The aforementioned reason alone could explain why we are (too) focused on doing well academically, which ultimately leads to an unbalanced life. Having gone through half of my university journey, I have managed to learn a few tricks. Here are my top five tips for those who want to reach a sense of equilibrium during their time as a university student abroad.

  1. Manage your Time Well

Personally, I think that this is the key for University students to achieve a sense of balance.  If you cannot manage to learn the art of time management, there is no way you can juggle your academic duties with other commitments.  That said, mastering it isn’t an easy business, and there really is no exact formula you can follow to do it.  You simply just have to wing it, and only after a few trials and errors may you find the way that is most suitable to you.

During my first semester of university, I was quite overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information, the hassles of module-picking and the overall urge to keep up with the array of extracurricular activities I could get involved in as a freshman. In the absence of a well-managed schedule, I barely survived in the end.

2. Get Involved in Clubs or Societies

Even though our main purpose to go to university is to study and get a degree, it is worth remembering that there is so much more to it than just that.  As it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you should make the most of your time there by trying out new things or pursuing your other passions (in addition to studying, of course).  If you are an avid tennis player, then go play for your university’s team.  If you like running, go join a running community in your school. If you like arts, go get involved in annual art fairs or dance shows. If you are a dare-devil, you could try out skydiving and possibly do your debut solo jump. That said, if you are not keen on being adventurous, you could simply opt for the conventional campus gym membership.

As for me, I joined a student-led investing group as an analyst last year as I was keen on learning more about the stock market. Although in the end I realised that it was not my cup of tea, I am still grateful for the opportunity as I was able to learn something new and that I got to meet other brilliant students from outside my course.

 

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Students promoting societies during Freshers’ Week

 

3. Do Not Procrastinate

This one might sound banal, but I have to admit that sometimes it is tempting to binge-watch a TV series instead of doing your readings! Though procrastination is not somewhat a fad, it is especially prevalent amongst university students, largely due the sense of independence university students usually feel.  It is simply your choice to excel or fail in your studies. Yet, the latter types tend to share one thing in common: an affinity for procrastination.

Not only does procrastination do more harm than good for your academic progress, it also might hinder you from achieving a balanced life.  The time that you spend watching those Netflix shows could be spent instead on doing sports to rejuvenate your physical condition or resting your brain through proper sleep.

It is not only about planning your weekly schedule, but sticking to it.  This helps in resisting the temptation to procrastinate.

4. Make Some Time for Personal Quality Time

It can only be pleasurable to be doing something that you enjoy, in the midst of a busy week in university.  People often forget about it, because of those assignments that are piling up high and waiting to be completed.  However, regardless of the situation, try your best to allow yourself to have your own ‘me time’.  This is especially good for relaxing one’s mind and simply an act of unwinding after an extremely hectic day or week.

Pre-university, I was a huge bookworm that would read for pleasure whenever time allowed.  In spite of that, in my first year of University, I remember reading significantly less books than what I was used to prior to being a University student.  Not that I don’t enjoy reading anymore, but I simply did not spare any time for it.  Learning from it, now, I always make some time to read whilst having breakfast or before going to bed.  Reading may not be everyone’s cup of tea, what I am saying here is to simply feel free to do things that suit your preferences and make you feel most relaxed.

Aside from reading, I also have a habit now of doing a little bedtime yoga. This is a good practice for me, as it signals my mind that it is time to forget about everything else that happened during the day or I will have to go through tomorrow, and just rest.

 

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Enjoy the present moment

 

5. Life is a Journey, Enjoy the Ride

Most of the time, having a specific goal to achieve is helpful for you to stay focused in doing your work.  However, there is a danger in taking it too far. No worries, I tend to be one of those overly-worried people too.  That is what I do, worrying too much about all the little details and constantly attempting to micro-manage everything to make sure that things are under my control.  Based from my own experience, this definitely does not constitute a healthy mind and puts unnecessary pressure on yourself.

Even if you have laid out a well-planned schedule, sometimes things just don’t go your way.  So, instead of grumbling and frowning upon an annoying incidence (suppose your lecturer failed to turn up to that 9 AM lecture), just let it go!  Do not let inconsequential things affect your happiness.

I hope that you find these tips helpful.  Here’s to a balanced life!

Photos provided by author