As the city of London (hopefully) begins to warm up as the long-awaited summer holidays draw closer and closer, it comes with no surprise that some of us, despite feeling very much relieved after barely making it through a year of deadlines and exams, would feel lost and empty as to how their now empty schedule can be filled.
Whilst the often-popular definition of a productive summer break would be trying to win an internship at a firm or laboratory (bonus points if it is “prestigious”) – whether it is for the sake of trying to secure a “better” future, or simply to have a prettier-looking CV – I reckon there are so many other options that we tend to overlook.
In case you are new to this space – hi, I’m Bianca. In the final term of my MSc Management degree at the point of writing. The workload’s tough (would even dare say it has been way more intense than my Biochemistry degree), and you can imagine me as a swan paddling hard beneath the waters to stay afloat whilst trying my absolute best to appear like everything’s going fine on the surface.
Nah I’m joking. I can be more of a sinking ship at times.
But as much as how hectic and messy my life probably sounds like, I thought of sharing a little bit about how I try to introduce order (and calm) amid the chaos.
I tried to start a diary at least five times in my life.
I can’t quite remember why, but I’m willing to bet that it was most probably because I drew a lot of inspiration from the Diary of Anne Frank. They all failed, miserably, in the sense that I tend to either (1) forget to write a paragraph after a week or two since getting started, or (2) I’m just a perfectionist and I often find myself cringing at my own work ten minutes after writing.
That clearly went well.
But if I were to look back at those years after spending some time “growing up”, I guess the mistake I (again, probably) have made is that I was trying to write a diary not exactly for myself, and therefore, it became hard for me to sustain that habit over a long period of time.
I might be a little early with this article since we are still ages away from the start of a new academic year, though I reckon it might be something worth talking about since I’ve been receiving a lot of questions on my UniBuddy account asking me this exact question. So, here are three things that I would have loved if my 18-year-old self to have understood prior to attending Imperial for my undergraduate degree.
It’s really not that difficult
There may have been a chance where movies, TV series, social media, memes, or “dramatic” people have given you the impression that a typical university student is one who is constantly overworked, stressed out, and struggling to understand the course material.
As we are in our third lockdown here in the UK, most of us have been accustomed to the new virtual life and have found many ways to keep ourselves occupied and productive during these long hours at home. Adapting has not been the easiest for me and even though I am pretty much an introvert, I am not capable of changing my lifestyle in a blink of an eye. That is also the reason why it took me much longer than others to finally decide to return back to Malaysia last academic year, as I needed time to accept that the rest of the academic year would be conducted virtually.
Not going to lie, the whole idea of going back to (virtual) university after spending a couple of weeks doing close to absolutely nothing gives me a fair bit of anxiety.
Maybe it’s the fact that I’ll need to return to an intense work routine with looming deadlines almost every week. Or it could be because we’ll be assigned to a completely new team for our group projects, so we don’t exactly have a comfort zone to fall back onto (shout out to my previous team if you happen to be reading this!
Let’s be completely honest with ourselves. 2020 has been one wild ride.
I can still remember those days vividly. That one Friday night when I found out that my final year lab project has been suspended. That one Saturday morning when I found myself staring at the empty shelves at the supermarkets, dumbfounded by the whole toilet paper panic-buying fiasco. And finally, that one Sunday morning, where little did I expect myself to be buying a flight ticket four hours before the plane took off (well I have my fair share of last-minute stories, but none of them at this level).