It’s public knowledge here in the UK that our teachers, lecturers, etc, went on strike for approximately 3 weeks. I don’t want to commit myself to any stance in that particular battle because as an exchange student, I honestly had no idea what was going on. All I knew, was that many of my classes were cancelled and I appeared to be free from responsibilities for a little while.
I thought this was an excellent opportunity to abandon my books and take off to adventure through Europe while I seemingly had nothing to do! I saw a lot of my peers doing the same, ditching our books and notes because we had nothing that we really needed to be doing because the strike meant a little vacation for us, right? Wrong.
I was so wrong. Life didn’t stop just because a few classes and seminars were cancelled. Little did I know that I was expected to keep up to date on my readings and assignments, and when the active strike days came to an end our professors tried to make as many adjustments and concessions for us all but I ultimately still found myself dropped into a mess of work.
When I took stock of everything I needed to do to get myself back up to speed I realised I had a long, hard road ahead of me filled with 8 hour days at the library and a lot of coffee. Neglecting 3 weeks of readings meant I had over 20 hours of reading to do within a few days, and my assignments that had always been on the distant horizon suddenly had due dates that were almost upon me. I didn’t think about the consequences of letting go of my responsibilities for so long. I didn’t look far enough into the future to realise that what I was pushing aside now, I would inevitably have to pick back up later.
I’m usually a fairly focused and enthusiastic student. But, I made a mistake. I made a poor call in judgement, and I know I’m not the only one. There are only so many excuses I can make for myself before I finally take ownership of the choice I made to set my studies aside during a time that I should have been focusing on them the most. Although strikes don’t happen often, I know that the next time a situation like this comes around I will react a little differently. University is already an environment that teaches you how to learn independently, and this strike and the time off definitely proved that it’s important to have the skills to be able to keep yourself on track.
If you find yourself in a whirlwind of work from your own procrastination, know that there are ways to power through it. Don’t let the procrastination eat away at your prospects of doing well in your studies. Always do your readings, keep a diary of your due dates, go the extra mile and read more than just the requirements (recommended readings are recommended for a reason…), and make sure that you clock a few hours in the library or other study environment every week. If it’s a few days before the deadline, set aside everything else, bunker down, and get the work done. You’ll thank yourself for it once it’s finished.
These aren’t just study habits that you should whip out when something goes wrong, they are habits that you should integrate into your regular learning so that you never find yourself at that precipice of overwhelming stress. A lot of us have put a lot of money and resources into being at such an amazing institution, and what we all want to get out of this experience is an education that will set us up for a greater future. Don’t throw it all away because a few classes were cancelled or because you just want to take the week off. Learn from my mistake, put your studies at the top of your priorities and you’re bound to succeed even with the most challenging circumstances.