Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dear Junior Year

My junior year of college has come to a close, and it's been a crazy year. This was definitely the most difficult year so far - my classes were tough, my schedule was busy, and trying to stay afloat was a struggle. I made it out, though, and I've learned a lot. Since it's over, I wanted to do another "Dear __________ year" because I did that for freshman year and sophomore year.

Dear Junior Year,

I was almost crushed by you. Not only was the academic side of you hard, but all of the real-life things were rough, too. My classes had a workload unlike any other year, and I had to start answering some questions about my future, and think seriously about what I want for my life. That's not an easy thing to do as a 21 year old. Who knows where I'll end up in life? Have a plan, you told me, and for most of the year I tried to come up with one.

Well, I did and didn't succeed, but some things I do have now are options and ideas. I have a couple of thoughts about what I want to do after college, and I don't know which one I'll end up following, but you taught me that's okay. See, you pushed me to think about these things so I'd be comforted in the fact that I'll be able to figure it out, and I understand that now. After many breakdowns and panic attacks, I've found (some) comfort in the unknown, and it's a little bit exciting. Instead of being stressed about the future, you taught me to be excited about it.

While you were stressful, long, hard, and gruesome, Junior Year, you also gave me so much happiness. You brought people - especially one in particular - into my life that have changed it for the better. I made so many memories with new and old friends that I'll truly cherish forever. I can't think of better people to have spent the year with, honestly, and you were there to put them in my life. Everyday I'm reminded by how lucky I am to have people in my life whom I love so much, and give my life so much more meaning.

You have made me stronger, and though I doubted myself - a lot - you also taught me that it's okay to have off days, sometimes off weeks, and that the sunlight always finds its way back in through the cracks. I made it through the challenges you gave me, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The outcomes from all of these trials are worth way more than the stress they caused, and I'm thankful for all of the mistakes and hardships I went through. My life is better now, because of you, and I have a better idea of who I want to be. I learned that it will most certainly take even more time and even more hard work to get to where I want to be one day, but you taught me that it'll be worth it, in the end.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

How to Succeed in College: Surviving Finals

You've probably noticed that I haven't been posting very often, but I've been so busy with studying for finals - go figure. This quarter was one of the busiest I've had at the University of Washington, and because of that my blog and channel have suffered slightly. I'm going to have a busy summer as well but I'm trying to get a hold on my schedule early so I can keep up to date. I have a couple of weeks before I start to get super busy, so I'm going to be getting ahead of the game!

As you're ending the term for your school, I'm sure the scariest part is all of the finals you have to take. It can be so daunting to study for multiple tests, and you'll probably end up feeling like a zombie. I've done a post on how to survive finals, but I really wanted to do an updated one in the "How to Succeed in College" series, especially since I've been studying like crazy these last couple of weeks. So, here are my tips!

1. Write down when each and every one of your finals are.
This may seem super basic and obvious, but it's a great place to start and keep coming back to. If you need reminders, write them on sticky notes and post them around your desk, or wherever you'll see them a lot. This really does help - it's so easy to get unorganized and lost while studying for finals, because you're just focused on reviewing content.

2. Actually make study guides.
I remember doing this in high school was always so annoying, but it can be so useful in college. When you're writing down all of the topics from your classes, you can get a feel for which ones you need to study more on, and which ones you know really well. It's also great to have a reference that you can go over when you're doing simple things like eating breakfast, or even walking to class (if you take a photo of it on your phone, which I highly recommend!).

3. Prioritize your time.
This can be with what you study for certain classes, as well as which finals you study the most for, and when you actually study for them. If you get a head start on studying for your finals that you have first, you'll have more time to study for finals that come later in the week. It's super difficult when you have multiple finals in a day, or one after the other, so it's important to schedule time to study for each different class. I definitely struggled with this Freshman year, so it's something that just takes a lot of practice and a lot of tests! Also, it really helps to have a planner to organize your time!

4. Block social media websites, and delete the apps if you get distracted easily.
I know a lot of people who actually block websites that they go to often, as well as delete apps on their phones so they don't get distracted. This is a really great solution if you get side-tracked easily while studying, or you find yourself constantly checking your phone and computer. I personally don't do this, but it does work well for a lot of people.

5. Change up where you study.
If you are getting tired of the scenery you're studying in, try simply changing it up by going somewhere else. Getting bored of a certain location that you're studying in can happen, so try studying in your room, other living spaces, different libraries, cafes, or other buildings around campus. If I'm feeling super burnt out for studying, it really does help me to go somewhere else. This really helps to keep your mind stimulated, and focus on studying!

6. Make sure you're getting enough sleep.
"Sleep" and "finals" don't often go together, but it's important to try and get enough rest during the week. I've learned the hard way this quarter just how important sleep is; you end up doing better on tests, and you have more energy to finish up homework. It really does pay off to take the extra time to go to sleep early, or take a nap throughout the day so you can feel refreshed.

7. Make study groups with friends.
Studying with classmates can be really beneficial if you're struggling in the class, and even when you know the content really well. Chances are you each will have stronger grasps on different parts of the class, so you can teach other in order to fill in those gaps. Also, when you are teaching someone else a concept, you end up really solidifying it in your head, which helps you out in the long run. It can also help to make you feel less alone and therefore less stressed, because you have others to talk to about the test!

8. Stay positive.
This might not seem too important, but it's really easy to focus on the negatives during finals. If you find yourself really down, try and think of the positives, like being done with finals and relaxing! Spring quarter/term finals can be really tough because you're thisclose to summer, and finals can feel like they're absolutely dragging along. Just remember that this is the last step before summer, and that you really are close.

9. Listen to classical music to help you study, or any other study music that helps.
I find that listening to classical music, study music, and even soundtracks to movies (Harry Potter is my favorite choice, of course), really helps me stay focused. If I listen to music with lyrics I find myself just humming along to those, but if it's instrumental music, I can better focus. This is especially useful if you're in a busy or loud place, like a cafe, but you still want to sit there and study. It's been proven that classical music helps, so definitely give it a try if you have trouble focusing! You can literally just search "study music" on YouTube, and they have videos that last for literal hours.

10. Take plenty of breaks.
It can be easy to just drone along and study for hours on end, but it's really important to take small breaks every now and then. Bring along a book to the library to read, listen to your favorite music, take a nap, waste some time on the internet, talk to your friends - do whatever helps you take your mind off of studying. Don't feel like you have to be constantly studying, because this can make you burn out really quickly. You'll lose steam, and the studying you're doing won't actually be very productive. Make sure you're scheduling in breaks!

Alright, there's 10 tips on how to survive finals in college! Just remember that you'll survive, and it's alright if you don't do well on a test - don't be too hard on yourself! College really is a learning process, and I promise it gets easier.

What are your favorite ways to study?

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you're having a wonderful day! :)