Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Handling University Without Friends

Summer's over, which means the new school year and the imminent winter months are approaching fast. That thought alone is enough to make anyone miserable. For me, the main reason why I don't look forward to school anymore is because I don't have friends to share it with. My friends and I all embarked on separate paths going into university, so school days can get quite long.

My first tip on making the school year more bearable is to find a good spot that you're comfortable in, and that you can go to during your breaks. I personally don't like secluding myself in the library because I find it a bit depressing, so I pick the atrium in my building because it gets plenty of sunlight. People cycle in and out so there's some commotion, but it never really gets too noisy. If it does, I have my trusty noise-cancelling headphones with me anyway. Sometimes I sit at a table in the atrium for hours on-end because my train schedule unfortunately does not always coincide with my school schedule, so I usually arrive early and have time to kill.

During down-times, I make sure I have plenty to do. First and foremost, I get school work done. If you're in university chances are you have plenty of class reading. Staying on top of your readings will make you more at-ease when it comes time to prep for tests and essays, and you'll be able to keep up better in class. If you have a lot of time, taking notes on readings is a good idea because it helps you digest the information better. Personally, I need near-quiet to stay focused on readings so this is when noise-cancelling headphones really come in handy.

If by chance you don't have noise-cancelling earphones, I recommend downloading some ambient music that won't distract you from your studies, but will drown out the people around you. I use an app called Songza and type "studying" into the search bar, and the first option that comes up is "Studying (no lyrics)" and "Reading". From there, you can choose from 6 different playlist options.

The easiest and most common time-killer during long breaks is browsing social media, but after you've scrolled through your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr feed, you'll need to find something else to do. I like to save social media for my train journeys to and from school because I can access it on my phone anyway. Personally, I prefer to be productive during my breaks.

What I mean by that is I like to be producing material, be it by typing up class notes, or even writing a blog post. After typing up a lengthy document I always tend to feel more accomplished. Getting organized is also a way to be productive: making to-do lists, writing due dates into your calendar, or putting together a reading schedule.

That said, I have to admit that as the semester goes on I tend to feel more lethargic. On those lazy days I equip myself with a tea or a latte, put on an audiobook, podcast, or even some music, and just relax. If you spend the majority of your school days without much social contact like I do, having an audiobook or podcast to listen to is amazing because it's like having someone tell you stories for potentially hours on-end. It's also really handy if you take public transportation trips that are more than say 20 minutes long.

That concludes my tips on handling university alone, but I should probably throw this in: make friends if you can! I can't deny that making friends is a good idea, but if you end up spending most of your time alone, try your best to make the most of it. :)

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