By: Hareer Al-Qaragolie 3rd year, History & English
My whole life, I knew I was going to travel away from Jordan to finish my undergraduate degree. It was a given, and I got used to the idea. If anything, I was excited. The only thing I was advised to do was to focus on my studies and adapt to them. Seemed pretty easy, so I didn’t give it much thought until move-in day. No one told me about the realness of homesickness, the added responsibility of being alone, the culture shock that occasionally hit me, or the bad grade that I would get on my first essay. Coping with it all affected my academics, and I felt completely and utterly alone, thinking everyone was getting ahead except for me. It was moments like these where I would get lost and start losing sight of my priorities. I didn’t find a balance between my education and my mental health. All I knew was that one overthrew the other.
As a third year, I can’t begin to tell you how much easier it gets. What helps me the most is talking to my peers, housemates, profs, or anyone who may relate to my situation. It’s so comforting to hear that you are not alone when it comes to situations like this. Whether it is that you and your friend got the same not-so-good mark on a quiz, to ranting about how you stayed up all night at Stauffer to finish an essay, it gives a sense of ease and comfort to know you’re not the only one. However, it also puts things in perspective for you.
I started making daily plans, check lists, and time tables, as well as making sure I have a time limit for when I need to stop working so I won’t overwhelm myself. Trust me when I say once you feel like you have too much on your plate, you start to focus less. In time, you will start to realize you have your own academic strategies that fit your timetable, and you’ll naturally see your progress.
A few things to keep in mind when you feel like you are having a hard time in focusing:
- Use your resources: I can’t stress enough how helpful campus resources are. Also, they are free! So please use them. What helps me the most in keeping my grades up is definitely the Writing Center at SASS!
- Call your family: I know it can be a stretch sometimes for some people, especially with the busy lifestyle of a Queen’s student, but they love hearing from you! Try giving them updates, spilling some feelings on some hard courses, or ask on how they are doing. Also, calling your parents can be a nice little break from studying all that material before an exam. Listening to loving and encouraging words from people who love you is always good to hear.
- Talk to your friends and set up study dates: this can be tricky since friends can sometimes be a distraction, but there is nothing wrong with having a nice 15-minute break from studying where you can take your mind off of things a bit. Also, who doesn’t like to complain to someone about how hard the material is…
- Plan ahead: whether you use the ABC method, cue cards or to-do lists, start planning from the most important to least important task. I can’t tell you how relieved and accomplished I feel when I check a box off in my planner; it gets me motivated all the time.
I wish you all the best in your studies and your well-being. You are here to learn, so don’t push yourself over the limit when it feels too much. Remember there are so many resources on campus to help you in any way or need. Never hesitate to stop by the SASS office, or send us an e-mail if you have any questions about anything.