Follow this link to read part I.
4. Kindness to your future self
Yup, this sounds a bit weird, but there really is a reason why the week of finals is called “Hell Week.” I know that only after going to college. What I also know is that the week right before it can actually be worse. That’s usually when the essays and final projects that make up 20% of your final grades are due. And if you’re thinking it’s one essay you’re dealing with, it’s ALL of them, from multiple classes. Your finals self is a poor baby who dreams about exams in your sleep and usually has only enough time to eat two bowls of cereal twice a day. So if you don’t want to suffer unnecessarily, don’t wait until the last minute!
But starting things like essays early can be a pain. What helped me a lot was my first semester English writing class, in which I learned how to question and synthesize what I read, form and revise my thesis, support my central argument, and cite sources properly. When you are doing research, be sure to utilize your school’s books and online academic databases. The academic databases work just as usual search engines, except they only yield peer–reviewed articles and research that could always be traced to specific authors and publishers and backed up by scientific evidence instead of speculation or personal opinions.
I also like to use what I call the “Taylor Swift Method,” which is just turning my recorder on and simply saying what’s on my mind whenever I am stuck. Speaking is faster than writing, so I can decide quickly if an idea has potential. It’s also great for involving more senses in the process and breaking the distracting silence that follows inactivity.
5. Plans for winter and spring break
The one-month Winter Break and one-week Spring Break are new to me (may the ancestors of whoever came up with the idea be forever blessed!). They are both precious opportunities to reward yourself for your hard work, widen your professional experience and have some fun. The key is: plan early, whether it’s making arrangements with your friends or applying for volunteer work or internships. You can look for the volunteer or internship opportunities by checking your school mail regularly and talking to your academic advisers or any other wise people you know. The academic advisers should be able to answer all your questions about the major, the program, and graduation, plus opportunities to get involved during these breaks.
6. Bad Skype connections
One price of going abroad for me is having to spend a good first 5 minutes of all Skype conversations with my Mom assuring her that her hearing ability’s okay, it’s just the bad connection! Many times, you speak to yourself and repeat yourself more than you’d like while hearing one person on the other side telling the others he or she can’t hear you. So, if you’re imagining the perfect high school class reunion or family gathering during Lunar New Year celebrations when you’re abroad, BE PREPARED!
7. And finally… bandages for heartaches
It’s not about the heartaches – they are sure to come – but how you cope with them. So, “when the rain is blowing in your face”, just make sure you have your sufficient dose of hugs. There are two Americans I am lucky enough to call my 2nd parents. You really need someone who sincerely shares the highs and lows in the new chapter of your life. When you’re lonely or discouraged or sad, don’t keep it bottled up – look for those people! I am really lucky to have found mine, so I hope the same for you and wish you a wonderful year ahead!