I can hardly believe that I’ve been in London now for over a month. I guess it’s true when they say “time flies when you’re having fun”.
Though I wouldn’t say my stay in London so far has been all fun and games. Yes, I’ve had the awesome opportunity of traveling around and exploring all that London has to offer. But while the glossy appeal of tourist destinations have slowly turned matte, school has started to creep into my life taken over a huge part of it right now. From timetabling issues to course equivalency problems, and loads of readings to panicking over the right asset pricing model to use there are days where the fun is ultimately completely sucked out of my life. (Is this the part in the culture shock/study abroad cycle where things start feeling like they are going downhill/start wavering between up and down?) Sometimes I wonder if I am in Azkaban, because where did all these dementors come from and why’d they have to suck out all the life from me? The long nights spent toiling away at journal articles and highlighting textbook chapters have already begun AND that’s not to mention that I already have a presentation and an essay due quite soon in two of my courses. (WOW, I’m making this sound really bad – which is not my intent!!! Perhaps it’s due to some of the stress – and unnecessary stress – that I have unloaded onto myself the past few days, but don’t get me wrong! Overall, I would not have traded this opportunity for anything else. To be quite frank – again this may quite possibly be coming from a place from stress – but I would much rather be as far away from my home university as I can get due to so much disappointment and disapproval I feel for them right now… again another story for another time that I will definitely explain once things start to settle down!)
Despite the increasing intensity and rigor of school work, if there is anything that this month has taught me so far it is most definitely these things:
***SO SO SO IMPORTANT.*** Everyone that I had spoken to who had gone to LSE in the years prior were not kidding when they said to stay on top of readings. I am slightly behind in 1-2 courses mainly because of the chaos that unfolded with my timetable (WHICH THANK GOD IS FINALLY FIXED!) and all the classes I had to drop out of/newly enroll into has really created a weird dynamic for me in several courses. Trying to balance new assignments/readings in addition to the ones I’ve missed has been a hectic catch up game and I highly do not recommend to anyone. To all those studying abroad in the future – if you are lucky enough to be blessed with zero issues in terms of course selection DO NOT take things for granted and start slacking off. Pro tip:
- Find the best times and best places (~best study snacks~) for you to study efficiently and effectively.
- If “To Do” lists are your thing (10/10 would recommend if you get a thrill from crossing things off lists and feel a sense of accomplishment in doing so) do it. Make all the lists, use all the post-its. If you are really hardcore go ahead and color code as well. Believe me it helps and keeps you on track with your work.
- Also, print out your weekly schedule just as a reminder of what your weeks are like – plan your studying/relaxing around your lecture/class times. Helps to plan little coffee/tea breaks to catch up with friends as well!
- Lastly, if you are the ultimate time manager, for sure invest in a good planner or agenda – these work miracles, I plan on getting a daily/hourly planner sometime soon. (Also, if you get a fancy leather one, you look totes professional and feel somewhat empowered to get work done.)
Strength of Character
Do not be afraid to speak your mind and be firm on your decisions/answers to difficult situations. With all the problems I’ve encountered from both LSE and AU regarding course selection, it has really solidified my own stance on my education. At the end of the day, I will fight for my best interests and do not really care if I burn bridges (well, maybe I sort of do, but if you really get to such a frustrated and aggravated state that I am in, there is no saying what kind of rage may explode from me) – I do not have time, money, or energy to waste and infringe on my education and my experiences here. I’ve also learned that in my slow evolution into a more stolid character, I’ve learned to respect myself and prioritize interests as I see fit. If I have not gotten more than 5 hours of sleep a day, weekends will most definitely be my catch up days – so no thanks to partying and nights out at pubs. For me, respecting my body’s overall health is so much more important than anything else. While I do feel bummed that I cannot mingle and meet new people, I most certainly would not be able to do such, and more, if I were to fall ill from sleep deprivation. Thus, the key takeaway is to come to terms with understanding yourself and your needs to be able to prioritize accordingly – doesn’t mean you have to follow my personal beliefs, everyone is different and has different goals. It is purely up to you to recognize those and sometimes sacrifice certain things to fulfill those goals. Remember: moderation and balance is key – a happy you will ultimately keep you energized and positive – it can make the biggest impact to your overseas experience.
Knowing When to Take a Break & Relax
Life can get busy, school can get overwhelming. Again, in terms of time management and character strength, do not deprive yourself of fun. If you are a planner, build/block in time to your daily/weekly schedule to simply relax. The best ways to do that is to explore your nearby surroundings. For me, Trafalgar Square (cultural & local events), Leicester Square (the BFI’s London Film Festival), and Buckingham Palace/St. James’ Park (running/exercise – though this has temporarily ceased due to some knee pain – again another story for another time) have been my main visits to help recharge and re-energize. Even taking short day trips in surrounding boroughs/zones, neighborhoods, towns, and cities is a great way to just escape, travel, and explore. Again, for me, my two excursions outside of central London so far have been at Camden and Dover (posts on these trips coming soon!) and it was such a great relief to me to be able to step into a land away from school. So definitely find ways to cope with your stress, or simply take advantage of nearby attractions. Heck, take a nap or treat yourself to a shopping spree or a fancy afternoon tea! Whatever floats your boat!
Or at least try as to do so as often as you can. It makes all the difference in how you go about your day. Because it’s not studying abroad if you are not getting comfortable with getting uncomfortable, it’s important to remember that different systems work different ways and that each problem is unique to an individual. Try to remember that with all the bad there is always good that comes out of it in the end. There is always a silver lining, always a light at the end of the tunnel. For me, I hope that manifests in the settling of credit transfers going back to AU. Best mantra to keep in mind is: positive in, positive out. Do not give up (never do this) and do not lose hope. [For more inspiration, check out my quotes page!]
So what more can I say? I think I’ve given you enough of my erratic take on the past month of my stay in London and hope that no one gets confused or assumes that I’m not thankful for this opportunity or am not enjoying myself. It has just been a tremendous period of growth for me, and hopefully this journey starts to turn around and continues upwards from here! I hope my experiences so far and suggestions on managing problems can help others who are also abroad and trying to cope with difficulties, as well as for people planning on being abroad later on. Just know, life abroad is not all peaches and cream. You’re bound to experience set backs, but in the end it builds character and you learn so much more about yourself!
Write again soon!