It’s May. Temperatures are rising, the skies are clearing, and your productivity is falling. As summer break – and final exams – inch closer, you find yourself absentmindedly looking at plane tickets during your tutorials.
9am lectures become optional, and you just can’t seem to finish that essay no matter how many 61 cent lattes you chug at Wijnhaven.
This is a common phenomenon that seems to repeat itself every year, and during what many call the “springtime slump”, our motivation seems to fall off a cliff. Unfortunately, since ‘almost going to the lectures’ and ‘almost passing the exams’ won’t get you that degree, you’ve got to power through. Thankfully, I have a few tips that’ll make it a little easier.
- Plan Ahead: Yes, I know that I sound like your parents right now. I hate to break it to you, but sometimes, they’re right. As assignment deadlines start flying at you, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and let everything snowball. But, I beg of you to not leave everything to the last minute. I promise that you won’t be able to write 3 essays in one night, and that you’ll hate yourself for trying. Instead, look at all of your assignments now, and divide them into manageable chunks. Create a to-do list, and check off a few tasks every day. This way, you’ll be able to turn in work that is solid and polished, and you’ll save yourself a lot of stress in the meantime.
- Talk to Friends and Family: Speaking of your parents, you should call them (or any other cherished family member or friend). These few weeks can be incredibly lonely and anxiety-inducing, especially for the many international students who are far away from their main support system. Fortunately, thanks to that smartphone in your hand, your friends and family are only a phone call away. I suggest you take advantage of that. When you’re feeling homesick and overwhelmed, talking to someone can help you find new solutions to your problems, and will remind you that your loved ones are out there rooting for you (plus, your mom will be delighted that you finally called).
- Go Outside: Study sessions don’t have to mean sitting in a stuffy library for hours on end. Spending time outdoors has been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve our mood and focus levels. So next time, instead of going to uni, consider grabbing your laptop and heading to the park instead. Plus, the Netherlands isn’t exactly known for its beautiful weather, so try to enjoy the sunshine while you have the chance.
- Study in a Group: Two heads are better than one, divide and conquer, etc. etc. These slogans, staples of cheesy motivational posters around the globe, actually have a kernel of truth to them. Studying in a group means that you’re surrounded by people with diverse perspectives and ways of thinking, meaning that you too, can learn from them and gain new insights about the material at hand. Studying with the right friends also helps you keep yourself accountable. Nothing gets those creative juices flowing quite like the peer pressure of everyone around you working hard.
- Give Yourself a Day Off: Let’s face it: you’re not a robot, and spending every waking hour staring at Brightspace won’t do you any favors. Schedule at least one day a week where you focus on yourself, and not on your schoolwork. Although breaks seem counterintuitive, taking one is essential to keep yourself from getting burned out, and taking regular breaks can actually increase your productivity. Maybe you want to dance at Paard, or go to the beach with your friends. Do that. Live a little. Future you will appreciate it.
- Cry: I’m serious. Bawl your eyes out. Scream into your pillow. Give the world the finger. This month is really hard, and you’re probably feeling a lot of not-so-nice emotions right now, so let them out. According to Harvard Health, crying releases oxytocin and endorphins, which helps people manage both physical and emotional pain, but I’m sure you’ve already managed to figure that out. The bottom line is, nothing makes us feel better quite like a good old fashioned cry, so guys, gals, and nonbinary pals, let those tears flow.
I realize that these tips are not all equally helpful, and I’m sure there are multitudes more that I’ve missed, but hey, it’s a start. Feel free to use, add to, and edit these tips as you see fit, because as yet another cheesy saying goes: “different strokes for different folks.” Just remember that you’ve got this, and enjoy your (almost) summer.
Find us on Instagram @basis.baismag