The term ‘Student Life’ is not one I had ever heard or been aware of before I joined Habib University, but on days when I have too many assignments to work on, deadlines fast approaching and a really foggy brain, I am so grateful that it exists.
Being a university student is not a piece of cake, and most of us, even the ones who do not indulge in it willingly, become engulfed with readings, papers and projects within the very first few weeks. We forget to trim our nails, refuse to go to birthday parties or family gatherings in order to complete work, and more or less begin relying on energy drinks and glorifying all-nighters. I begin to feel so overwhelmed that I cannot concentrate on any one thing, let alone complete it.
I can hear Coldplay singer Chris Martin crooning in the background saying, “…nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be this hard…”
Student Life is what I turn to when all of this is going down. Having a social life while pursing full time higher education is not easy, but it is doable.
So what can we do, both here at HU and out there in real life to make time for our emotional wellbeing? Things like taking time out to sit with your loved ones, goofing off with friends, talking about anything that is not related to your studies are all important practices that work as excellent stress relievers, but we do not always manage to accommodate such breaks.
When it comes to spending time with family, I am no stranger to complaints from my parents saying they rarely see me anymore, and here is why: I procrastinate, fall behind on readings/assignments, and try to catch up by locking myself in my room as soon as I get home, churning out essays which would have been a lot better had I started on them a little sooner…plus sleeping so late I cannot see straight the next morning. Sometimes doing something as small as jotting down ideas goes a long way in ensuring that you do not feel guilty for putting off work to just spend time with your dad.
Ideally, what I could do is get a planner (see Zia-ur-Rehman Ansari for Academic Planners, Freshmen and Fresh(wo)men!) and make full, thorough use of it. Writing down what I need to get done, when it needs to be done by, and for whom, is the best way to start. Carrying around a physical copy of the due dates of all assignments, projects, research papers etc. is a good motivator and keeps you from spending too much time on Netflix and Facebook, because it forces you to prioritize without the guilt factor. You learn to manage your time, know when to let off steam and when to get down to making notes.
Almost every week at HU is blessed with at least one major event which you can take the time out to attend and come out feeling relatively invigorated. We do not do things halfway here, so there is something for everyone and it is always at a scale where you do not feel embarrassed or awkward going in. Below are some of my favorite events at University which I know I can rely upon to help take the weight off my shoulders:
- Movie days conducted by clubs, where they find a time slot when the majority of the student body is free and put on something everyone can watch. What is more relaxing after a loaded week of deadlines than sitting in the Multi-Purpose Room, with the air-con on and lights off, crashed on a beanbag watching a lighthearted movie?
- Destress Fest by the Wellness Center near the finals week: During the two semesters I have been here, I cannot recommend anything more than the Destress Fest…for me, it is the highlight of the semester! Faheem Khan & the Wellness Peers go all out to transform the Wellness Courtyard into a magical stress-free zone where one can paint, let out their frustration at Play-Doh, watch their peers play ‘Kings’, and stuff delicious samosas upon samosas into their mouths. The background music is an added bonus!
- Eventos, the student group, plans Halloween Parties, Gol Gappay Competitions, Thumb Wars, and so on…What more do you need to take your mind off work for an hour?
- Engaging Public Lectures by HU’s Academic Centers (IDRAC, CMD, Arzu, and the SSE Public Lecture Series): There is something so calm and soothing about sitting in the Tariq Rafi Lecture Theater after classes are done for the day, listening to an expert talk about a subject matter with so much passion it sends chills down your spine. A quiet falls on the campus during these events, where you feel like you have been transported into a space where nothing else matters but appreciation of the human race, or sometimes the sheer magnitude of their ignorance. It is not always about learning; some things should just be experienced.
When it comes to taking time out to socialize with friends, there are so many spaces at HU where you can feel at home and discuss the usual gossip with your compadres, or huddle with them to plan out the next excursion. Whether it is just a solid hour of laughter, ordering pizza, or venting out everything you have had stored inside for months, nothing is as therapeutic as friends. So when I say it is important to take out time for your friends, I mean it sincerely.
But at the same time, we should not ignore the need to definitely give time to ourselves as well, when we do not feel like interacting with anyone and just staring into space. It is so hard to get your brain to quiet down even for a minute these days, we should really cherish those moments where we zone out and think about nothing. It is not necessary to always be in the company of other people to feel refreshed, sometimes just taking out an hour or two to be with yourself can help you unwind more than having company could.
Student Life/social life is crucial to not burning out and becoming overwhelmed, breakdowns, zoning out in seminars, skipping classes to complete assignments… When there are just too many things happening simultaneously, it is better to take a step back and reflect at your reasons for pursuing higher education, your dreams, hopes and goals, and realizing that to achieve what we are striving so hard for would come a lot easier if we were kinder to ourselves now, instead of later.
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