Now that I am finally back to what may be described as passable human-like, I have a few words of wisdom on what to consider when considering higher education, i.e. should you really go down the path of senseless deadlines, night-long study sessions and no immediate gratification? (Spoiler alert, the answer is yes. ALWAYS, yes when it comes to education!)
Although, I am basing this blog post on my recent experience on finishing my masters, I think that these tips may be useful for all kinds of education, may it be highschool, your G.E.D., your bachelors, your dance class, what have you. You may find these tips particularly useful if you’re about to start a new semester, a new class, job, moving cities or whatever else life throws your way. So here goes nothing.
1. Find your Passion.
So, should you do it or not? Should you go for it, change your ways and putting everything on the line, or should you just simply not? In ways, when you are a child, things are much easier, you don’t fear things you just do them. So find that child-like passion in you and forget your fears of failure, your fears of pain, fears of everything really, and just go for it. It won’t be easy, it won’t be immediately rewarding, it will be hard work, but it’s worth it when you found something that tickles all your brain cells!
2. Ask for Help.
Now, you may not realize it, but wherever you are in the world, there is someone out there in the position to help you, but most of the time we’re just not asking. If you are in school, there are trained (!) school counselors who have dealt with people in your position for years, so go ask for their advice! In your job, I am sure there is someone too, that may be able to help you and if you’re moving from one place to another, be sure to ask your friends to help, because secretly, they love moving boxed from one point to another, because they care about your well-being! (Also, offering pizza and beer helps, a lot!)
3. Plan your Meals.
Before you know it, your schedule is going to be crazy! It may seem very innocent in the beginning to say yes to everything, but you will quickly realize that going to classes, reading material, having a social life, meeting new people, exercising… it will all become too much. Usually around October I always noticed people dropping out of courses they really wanted to take, no mid-morning coffee breaks with your table neighbor and definitely no time to ever finish whatever chapter you were supposed to read a month ago. And during those times we tend to eat everything but food that is good for us and it shows (although, the only person that will probably be frank enough to tell you is probably a close relative to you – I have many of them…). So be smart, plan your meals, make a shopping and preparing meal list, make sure you bring healthy snacks to school that keep you going and don’t give in with the chocolate craze (well, at least only once or twice a day, not on an hourly basis, like some of us…).
4. Change your Mind.
I was incredibly lucky knowing what I wanted to research from the very first day of my masters. There were no doubts in my mind and although it was super challenging, I did cutting edge research, which in itself is an accomplishment, if you ask me. But if you aren’t that fortunate, don’t worry! CHANGE YOUR MIND. Find something that is interesting to you, something you cannot get enough of, something that tickles your fancy, something that drives you crazy and keeps you up at night! I promise it’s rewarding! Change your mind a million times, if you must, but just be aware that at the end of the day, of whatever you do (be it writing a term paper, learning how to speak Spanish or making your very first casserole at home), it is up to you, to finish the job!
5. Build Study Groups with People you like.
When you decide to go to school, there is a good chance that the people you used to hang out with daily probably won’t go to school with you. Somehow you will be in the position of the “new gal/guy” in an unfamiliar territory and you will feel like a fish out of water. It’s not easy to talk to strangers, but remember you have this new thing in common, this new passion. So find people you like, people you want to hang out with and people that ask you for help and that you can ask for help. Build a study group and study together. Some sessions will feel like you are the world’s most amazing student, other sessions you won’t get anything done, but that’s okay, because sometimes it’s okay to slack, as long as you do it with people that act as your safety net. Having study buddies will hold you accountable! You may not think it necessary, but believe me, the group that studies together will pass everything together!
6. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!!!
This is the one thing I wish I would have done regularly, but I didn’t. Not regularly or rather not at all. Not for the lack of wanting to be fit, but for the lack of thinking that I didn’t have time. I really thought my whole world order would just fall apart if I exercised for 30 minutes or an hour a day. This also meant that I packed junk in my trunk, which I don’t mind, but as I started exercising regularly again after I delivered my thesis, I realized how much of energy and muscle power I have lost and was missing! So, these days I do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day: Either yoga, kick-boxing, cardio-workouts or running, pick and choose what you like, just do it!
7. Take a Break!
Not just from studying, from everything. Take a break from social media, take a break from tindering, take a break from being vegetarian and try something new. Try almond milk with your coffee, maybe do some coloring, read a Cecilia Ahern book, sit in the tram for four hours and do nothing, or listen to the Airborne Toxic Event if you haven’t done so already (like seriously, only the best band ever!). Allow yourself to take these breaks, because the unique situation you are in right now, won’t last forever! Prepare yourself for what may come after you finish your education. You will find yourself vulnerable, stressed and everything but in a good mood, so allows yourself little daily getaways, remind yourself that you are more than the degree, the diploma or certificate you are currently studying for! The world has so much beauty to offer, but only if you allow yourself to see it.
8. Share your Experience!
We love to think we are lone sufferers. Be it a heartbreak, new to a foreign place or struggling with your studies. All too often I found myself sitting in a classroom, realizing that I had absolutely no idea what was going on around me, while it seemed that everyone around me understood anything and everything. Time and time again, I found myself at home, lonely, depressed and feeling stupid for not understanding jacksquat when it seemed everyone else was smarter. But you know what? They’re not, I mean statistically speaking, sure some of the people surrounding you will be smarter than you in some ways, but realistically, most people in your boat are suffering just like you are. Share this with everyone around you! It will not only uplift you, to know you are not alone, some of the stories are pretty comical too and of course, nothing feels better than bashing school material for not being useful in the “real world”. Chances are, one day you’ll think back to the material, realizing how important it actually was, but in that moment, don’t sweat it!
9. Plan a Reward for when you’re done.
I know, in the midst of finishing your semester, the deadliest of all times for your social life, you’re supposed to plan a reward??? What kind of devilish idea is this?! But believe me, planning the reward will firstly allow you to think beyond your immediate workload and it allows you to find happiness some place else when you think your life right now cannot give you anything but stress pimples and more weight on your scale than you have ever seen before (but that’s just me!). I planned my Greece vacation, a 10-day trip on the island of origin with my husband and one of my dearest friends. Not only was it super distracting to the task at hand, but it gave me something to look forward to, when all is said and done and there is nothing else I could do anymore. Something to make you count down days, other than the hoovering deadline in your calendar. And oh boy, we had a lifetime of happiness packed in 10 days of sun, fun, beaches and ice cream!!!!
10. Be Proud and Loud!
You did it! You committed, not only to starting your education but also to finishing your education! Be proud and show your accomplishments, you deserve it! Don’t ever forget the feeling of delivering your final product and earning the gold raisins or what ever it is you achieved at the end of your accomplishment. I guarantee you, that every now and then you will find yourself in a ditch, wondering WHY you did what you did and if you ever find a suitable job, a perfect career or the perfect time and place to have a coffee date with your old love interest. But remember the day you delivered your thesis, the day you get your diploma rewarded, the day you last will see your teacher and mentor. Take that pride and show it to the world, you earned it!