If you are tired, distracted and unmotivated, here are some tops tips to attune you to the summer semester
Feeling oddly unfit to adapt to your study routine? The semester was off to a peculiar start this year, for after a mere two weeks of orientation and introduction, we were back in rest mode for the Easter weekend. Many students I meet have complained about this transition period as they easily lose concentration, often feel lost, homesick and unproductive. Motivation is also problematic because it can swing between the extremes of binge working and steady hibernation. After my semester abroad, I was also stuck in this uneasy state and found it difficult to resume my usual routine in Chemnitz. However, after weeks of annoying procrastination, I became determined to get back on track, and here are some tips that have proved to be effective:
- Being persistent
Repetition is the key to acquiring a skill or creating a habit. It is definitely challenging to stick to a healthy routine, as the dynamic student lifestyle can bring many unexpected threats like an empty fridge on a Sunday or a party on the floor above. Yet there is a thin line between rescheduling and procrastinating, and you need to know how to negotiate with yourself. A strong will and persistence will help you maintain a strict-ish routine and avoid making excuses. However, first-month shock brought on by the sudden workload that needs to be shifted can be discouraging, and overcoming fatigue theoretically needs to be gradual (and not induced by numerous runs to the coffee machine). This is barely achievable within the short time students get to reorganise, so it is important to use the first month to renew that legendary motivation and hard work with which you survived through the last exam period.
- Avoiding distractions
Concentrating also requires strong willpower, determination and a clear objective. Yet when the desk in your dorm room also serves as your dining table, bookshelf and vanity case-cum-dressing table, it is impossible to have a proper study environment. Ever since a friend of mine invited me to study in the university PC pools two years ago, I have been working most efficiently outside my room. I find these facilities quite helpful for staying focused and defeating distractions as there is (almost) no way of taking a nap in the library, for example. The obsessive checking of social media and emails can easily be avoided through website-blocking extensions such as Forest. Clearing your workspace is of course essential when studying at home. And if you still have chaotic thoughts distracting you from your reading, one of the best means to keep concentrating on the task at hand is to take notes physically instead of passively highlighting key passages. You can check out the recent blog post (in German) by my fellow ambassador Tom to learn more techniques for efficient reading.
- Overcoming homesickness
The first days after moving out, especially when going abroad, are usually too overwhelming for one to be too affected by solitude. However, after making the obligatory room tour video for the whole family, ending the conversation and observing the new 14m² called “home”, you realise that you will be on your own for a long time. Missing out on spring holidays and festivals which are traditionally celebrated with the family also gives one the feeling of longing to return home. Performing some of the customs abroad can also be challenging, and you might get more reluctant about them with each year spent in the foreign land. Homesickness can never be completely overcome; however, celebrating your heritage can at least give you a sense of belonging. I noticed this feeling of cultural identity myself after painting eggs this Easter, and I also observed it during the Bengali New Year celebrations at the Club der Kulturen, where all of the organisers of the Bangladeshi evening were genuinely happy to recreate their traditional food and decorations. Sentimental objects from home can also soothe homesickness and cut the distance between you and your loved ones abroad.
Transitioning to the whirlpool of university life is a demanding task which all students face after the relaxing holidays, yet with enough persistence and concentration, hindrances such as depression, homesickness and confusion can be overcome.
I hope you all achieve wonderful results this semester!
(Bachelor English & American Studies, 6th semester)