How to Juggle Study vs Free Time
Organising your study and free time when you are studying abroad can be difficult. Here are some tips to help you cope.
For some, organising their study and free time may not be a problem; but for a lot of us it can be a challenge. Now throw in the fact that you are studying abroad in a different country, with new people and new adventures awaiting; the distractions have doubled!
As someone who studied abroad twice, I know what it is like to succeed and fail at time management. Here are some tried and tested techniques that may be useful when trying to keep yourself on the right track when it comes to juggling your academics and beloved free time.
Keep a Diary
Set a schedule, and stick to it! Whether you are a highly organised person - or struggle with organisation - simply writing your agenda down can seriously help you stay on top of of things. Start with the musts: classes, a job if you have one etc. That time is automatically off limits, and now you can take a look at what is left over. Setting aside an hour or two each day to complete your coursework, be it, a paper, a project or presentation, will keep you on top of things and allow you to utilise the rest of your free time for spontaneity or planned fun!
Keeping with the theme of maintaining a work diary, I found it extremely helpful and rewarding to try to limit all my coursework study from Monday to Friday. This will help you find a serious relief, come Friday, knowing you completed the coursework for that week. Free up your weekends to explore your new home and experience things. Proper time management can have really positive affects on your stress level as well. Knowing that you are doing all you can to stay on top of your coursework will make you feel like you have earned that free time, and therefore you can enjoy it more.
Procrastination is Not Your Friend
Procrastination, though tempting, is your enemy. Leaving assignments and studying until the last minute can put you under serious stress (I know from experience). In your last minute scramble to study, you may find that you retain less information at exam time. Or you may find yourself staying up into the wee hours of the morning to finish studying; being sleep deprived for an exam doesn’t help either (another experience of mine). You may, undoubtedly, find yourself in this situation once or twice, but it is important not to make a habit out of it.
Though it may seem enjoyable at first, procrastination will stress you out in the end. It may also tie you to an evening in the library while your friends go to the cool pub down the road, or the concert you had been dying to see. Keeping a work schedule and finishing your schoolwork promptly will expand your free time and minimise stress.
Stay in the Zone
A tip I found helpful, when possible, is staying in that work zone. Upon finishing a class, it can be extremely helpful to head straight to the library and work on an assignment if you are given one. Rather than the tempting and comfortable prospect of going home to watch TV with friends, or taking a mid afternoon nap, staying in the work frame of mind can help in more ways than one. Not only will you make headway on an assignment early on, but with the class and facts fresh in your mind you may find it easier to complete that assignment.
We all have our own time management skills and ways that work for us. But let these tips guide you in the direction of getting the most out of your study abroad experience. While it is academically focused, a huge part of this journey is experiencing something new and exciting. So allow yourself the time to do so!
For more helpful advice related to studying abroad, check out our blogs.
About the Writer: Merette Kennedy is an American writer and avid book lover. As a former international student, she completed her Masters Degree in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies from the University of Limerick in Ireland. She is currently residing in Boston, Massachusetts, and is in the process of completing her first fiction-based novel.