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How to survive your first months of Uni: A 5 step guide towards a clearer mind

Date:19 November 2021
Five tips and tricks that will help a lot from being overwhelmed during your studies
Five tips and tricks that will help a lot from being overwhelmed during your studies

Have you found yourself being busy with everything at a time not knowing where to start all your assignments and simultaneously keeping up with primitive things such as getting a meal? I guess we’re on the same page then! I am Leslie (hello!) from Germany, and since September I’ve been studying the MSC in Voice Technology at Campus Fryslân. The first months of studying in a new environment can be quite a bit of a challenge. Moving abroad itself is a big step – studying just adds up to that. In the following paragraphs I’d like to share with you five tips and tricks that help(ed) me a lot to keep myself from being entirely overwhelmed. I hope there is something in it for you too!

1 Don't forget to breathe

Meeting new people, getting accustomed to your new environment, keeping up with studying and taking care of yourself can be a lot to handle – especially when you find yourself in the midst of questions as who am I, how many and why?

When you feel like your student life is just overly overwhelming and you literally run out of breath, then hold on for a moment and take your time to breathe consciously. Take one deep breath in, and three breaths out. Repeat that for a few times and you’ll (hopefully) find yourself in a less stressed state already. Actually, you are just a small human floating in space. I mean, don’t get me wrong, you can still save the world and all that. Sometimes, however, it’s good to know that everything is okay, no matter how big and overwhelming it seems. 

Also, if you want to level up your breathing game, there also are several fancy breathing techniques you can find on the internet. Take a look - eeh, breath -  here on Spotify or on this app called Mindspace or this one called 7mind *this one is free with optional subscription, for mindspace you’ll have a free 14-day trial and then need a subscription, 4.83€/m.

2 Celebrate the little victories

Uni is hard and especially when you are drowning in assignments and exams it can be very hard to focus and also to self validate yourself. At some point I have also found myself struggling and questioning whether I am even able to manage life at all. Look at the dishes and they are not done,  you look at your assignments, you look at the time and you realise that you did not even eat anything today. That is the time when it is very helpful to shift the focus and celebrate the little victories. Did you get up on time? Did you make your bed? Did you call your parent(s) or friends? That counts! Even if a lot does not seem to work, there is always at least as much that does. Try to pay attention to the little things and validate them. Uni is overwhelming, especially in combination with life. However, if you have accomplished getting up in the morning and to sleep at night, you are doing great! 

3 Dance like nobody's watching

At uni, we spend a lot of time sitting and looking at our Laptops. For everyone of you who does not enjoy going to the gym as much as me, I can recommend a dance a day! When you get home from uni, put your favorite music on and dance like nobody’s watching. That will not only lead to your body releasing a plethora of endorphins, but your neck will also thank you for it (Perhaps just watch your nearer environment before headbanging parts).

Some bangers that will always do the job are Africa by Toto or Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. What I can also truly recommend is Gloria either by Mando Diao or Umberto Tozzi, Gloria Gaynor’sI Will Survive or Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston. Generally, 80s , 90s and early 2000s will do (spotify’s song radio for Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne is also recommended).

4 Don't forget to eat

What did you eat today? Did you eat? If you did, let me tell you that a bread a day and five coffees are not a meal! When I am busy, I often forget to eat and to keep myself hydrated and that is more counterproductive than anything else. If you struggle with this too, try to find one or two days a week that you meet up with your peers and have a cooking party. Beware the current covid restrictions of course, but I guess that hardly any student kitchen will fit more than 4 people anyway. Maybe pick one day to have a meal together and one day to prep together. Yes, you heard me. Preparing one or two meals can save you a lot of time! As a German, I am a fan of tupperware - especially for preparing food. If you have a freezer you may be the future king or queen for food preparation! There are tons of recipes on the internet too. I’d suggest to have a look at the instagram page @veganrecipesideas. If that is too much effort, rice, pasta or potatoes compared with any kind of veggies are always a good way to go. To get started, simply put some onions, garlic and oil into the pan and add some broth and veggies. 

Apart from that you can also just find a cooking enthusiast at campus and make that person cook for you. Just don’t do that too often and make sure you’ll pay in desserts.

5 Take breaks

When was the last time that you took a break? I mean, a real one. A conscious one. Nowadays it is hard to do nothing at all. There always is something to check on Wikipedia, to share on social media or to work for uni or your job. I would even go so far as to say that hardly anybody is taking proper breaks. What I mean by that is say to yourself: “Hey, you’re having a break now. Start at x and end at z.” Set a timer and consciously do nothing except for sitting down, doing a little of the breathing you learned at point 1), go for a walk with your phone switched off and enjoy the colours of autumn. It’s a little thing to do, but from my personal experience, this gives you more energy for going on afterwards.

So, to conclude: Uni is certainly not only about  finding ways to being less stressed, but it can be a lot. I hope one or more of the points above will help you in any case of study crisis. If you have further tips, share that valuable information with your peers, take care of yourself and also of others and enjoy the beautiful city of Leeuwarden during one of the most important times of your life. Happy (and healthy) studying everybody!