5 Things Going Back to School Has (Re)Taught Me

Yo. This semester has been mad full of, hmmm…let’s call them “academic surprises”. Hence the ginormous gap in posting. My bad guys, my bad. But, now the semester is over, and more importantly I’m back to posting. And since the semester is over now, I thought I’d share 5 things I (re)learned as a result of the craziness that was the past semester.

1. Don’t be afraid to get clarification.

On everything! Your notes, the lectures, the assignments, corrections on your test and assignments. I skimped on this rule last semester despite it being a habit in the past and y’all… it showed. I probably could have gotten a few assignments graded more highly if I hadn’t skipped this practice. Lesson learned! Next year, this introvert is opening her mouth at any hint of not being clear.

2. Get some fresh air!

Even if it’s 10° F outside. Even if it’s for 5 minutes. Even if you haven’t showered for the day yet. Just get some fresh air. This was particularly difficult for me because winter in Montréal is cold, but the times that I forced myself to go outside just for a short bit significantly improved my performance when it came to sitting down to study. It’s good for your brain and your body, so just do it. 🙂

3. Don’t take on more than you can handle.

And I’m not referring to too many classes or extracurricular activities (I did literally zero outside activities this semester). I’m talking about taking on too much within one class. For me it was French Literature. Which I thought I was ready for, but was not. Where I messed up? I realized and understood I wasn’t ready for it early enough to remove it from my course schedule. But I didn’t because of a bit of overly ambitious pride. And do you know what happened as a result? I struggled the entire semester because I had to dedicate more time than I had into one class just to stay afloat. That time bled into my other courses’ study times. And voilà, a nice big plate of too much.

4. It’s okay if your best isn’t at the level you want.

Because that’s why you’re in school (or working), to improve your current skills and constantly increase the level of your “best”. I got frustrated with myself several times this semester. Sometimes rightfully so, for making silly mistakes. But, sometimes I got frustrated with myself for things that simply had to do with not being at a certain level of skill yet. I was getting frustrated for something that wasn’t a fault or mistake; for not having a skill I wanted, which was precisely the reason I was taking the course in the first place.

5. Take time out for yourself.

No matter what. Even if you didn’t read those last couple of pages of assigned reading. Even if you have two more questions to review. Even if you feel like proofreading your assignment for the 5th time, each of which time was typo-less. Because you know what is essential to learning? Your brain. And do you know what needs to take a break after hours of endless studying? You guessed it, your brain. I didn’t give my brain enough downtime this semester and it seriously affected my performance, including getting sick and being out for 4 days (during which, murphy’s law would have it, I had an exam). Now, I’m not saying you should take a whole weekend off right before a 10 page essay you haven’t even read the instructions for is due. However, you should definitely consider regularly scheduling times for you to do something you want to do rather than need to do. I started doing this in the last few weeks of the semester (ironically the busiest time assignment wise) and it significantly improved my mental stamina when studying. Yet another lesson I knew in the past, but had to relearn.

So, with all that I learned this year, I am happy to say I am going to make some serious efforts to follow the advice of the lessons I’ve learned, next semester. Not only will it significantly improve my mental and physical health, it will make me a much more productive student and person.

What’s something you’ve learned from a challenging semester or period at work? How did you use those lessons to do better afterwards? I would really love to hear from you! 🙂

Until next time,
<3 Lae

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