And Other Tips for the Spring Semester
Welcome to another semester! Are you excited about a brand-new semester? I can assume your possible answers. Being an international graduate student, I think I know what other students go through when they leave home and their comfort zone to be here at NDSU.
Since I teach and study at the same time, I also know some of the perspectives that students and professors share. As an instructor, I expect my students to submit assignments, journals, and final papers on time. When it is my turn to submit something on Blackboard, I expect my professors to be flexible and give me a good grade. Here comes the conflict of meeting the expectations of the requirements laid out in the assignments, and also getting a good grade where I feel that I got what I deserved.
On top of that, life hurls its drama at us. It gets really difficult to balance personal life and academic life. That’s when our mental health suffers the most with our CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average). When you are on your own in a new country or a city, it is tough to seek out help or know whom to get help from. You become the sole controller of your life’s wheel. Having said that, I also know that you can not control everything like troubles in family and relationships, sickness, toxic roommates, etc. But one thing you certainly can do is to take care of yourself, your academic life, and, most importantly, your mental health.
I can tell you from my experiences how I cried for hours and hours, covering my mouth with a scarf so that no one could hear me crying. My personal life was a mess. Because of my struggles, my academic and professional life got hampered too. There were times when I wanted to quit and go back to where I belonged. But see, I am still here! If I can do it, so can you.
Though I am not an expert, I can share the things that I have started maintaining since last semester. Sharing my goals with you having the intention that you can also get a little bit out of it. Here are my mantras for you that you can start following.
First, set a timetable for yourself. Do not waste your time by watching random things before submitting your assignments. I am not asking you to avoid the things that you love to do. If you are taking multiple courses in a semester, you have to submit multiple papers at the end of the semester.
The possibility is that setting a timetable and maintaining it will not be enough when you have a course load that is significantly demanding. But it will help you to be on track.
Secondly, talk to your teachers. Every teacher is different, and so are their course designs. Teachers have their expectations from their students. To know about that, you have to talk to them. Here, teachers have office hours when you can go, have a brief chat, and ask them to help you. Send an email, have an appointment with your teacher, and get their insights into their courses and your papers.
Do not expect them to understand your struggles unless you open up to them. Another important thing. If you need an extension for some reason, do not hesitate to send an email to your professor. Your professors are not robots. They are human beings too, they understand.
Third, practice your belief. Be it religious, spiritual, or personal. Honestly speaking, this helps a lot. When you believe in something, it becomes easier for you to achieve your goals. I am not saying that practicing your religion or belief is going to solve all your problems, but this belief system is going to give you a sense of comfort where you will feel that things are doable. If you have faith in Christianity/Hinduism/Islam or whatever you have belief in, hold onto that. It helps!
Fourthly, have some time for yourself. Setting some time aside for yourself is the other name for self-love. If you do not love yourself, no one else is going to do that for you. Go out with your friends, pick a hobby, or practice writing a journal where you will write about the exciting things that happen daily. Gain a new skill by watching YouTube videos. Read exciting books using your library card. Do something creative. Help others and spread the vibe of love. All of us badly need that. You know what? You can do plenty, if you use your “me time” wisely.
Finally, make a circle of your people. Do not give access to everyone in your life. Everyone does not deserve to be one of your “people”. Toxic people and naysayers should not be around you. Throw them into the big dumpsters that you have right next to your dormitory, using your imagination. That place suits them.
Make friends from your class so that both of you can help each other when it comes to course-related things. Reach out to people you love and trust in times of challenging and depressing moments. Sharing with them what you are going through will help them get ways and ideas to help you out. If you are able, talk to your family. Parents are parents. Never underestimate the power of their wisdom and help.
I have tried to share my opinion on the things that I figured out when I was struggling with maintaining a balance between my personal life and academic life. When I look back at the mistakes I made in 2022, I realize that I have come a long way. My family members, friends, and professors helped me to pass through the darkest times of my life. With a strong support system, all that you have to do is believe in yourself. So, work hard. Love yourself. Good luck!