Existential exam crisis

07-06-2018

The weather is nice, you are close to vacation, and every day is perfect for picnics with friends, going to the beach or other open air events. That being said: the last weeks of the study year are the worst. Because nothing compares to the torture of fighting for places in the library to do the assignments you don’t even want to do anyways. Swimming beats Statistics. Sun beats studying. It’s a law of nature.

However, the last exams are speedily approaching and there is exactly one thing worse than having to study throughout the last weeks of the study year. That is: studying throughout vacation because someone decided to put resits in the middle of August. And in order to prevent this horror, there is only one thing left to do. You have to scratch your last pieces of motivation together, trade the beach against the books and cry under the shower — because no-one has time for a full-blown mental breakdown right now.

Being the horrible procrastinator that I am, my academic experience is filled with many mistakes I made while trying to survive past examination periods — and I am therefore perfectly equipped to give some basic advice on the dos and don’ts of studying.

No go’s include: rearranging your closet, cleaning the kitchen and building a new bathroom. Also, do not decide upon and plan your summer vacation the day before a big exam. You should really go through your notes and not through airbnb-pages. Don’t go to the Efteling, don’t start a cooking blog specialized on varieties of risotto, don’t do a karaoke-night or a Harry Potter marathon. Close the video about knitting for beginners you were about to watch. Don’t sleep. Don’t eat. Breathing is critical, but okay.

And most importantly: don’t listen to people who tell you to stop taking breaks during exam periods. It’s completely okay to have a karaoke-night or watch videos about knitting. Sleep and nutrition are important and planning a vacation can be something to look forward to. Life needs to go on, even when times get busy. The point is: you need to take breaks in order to keep your energy up. The trick is to find the right balance between breaks and getting back to work. Because living either extreme — no breaks at all versus procrastinating the entire time — is not good for you.

There is obviously much more to say about this topic, but from this point on I would like to let Billy Joel speak for me. A friend recently sent me his song Vienna and I can only advise to listen to it while going through times where you feel like losing ground and sanity.

Every two weeks, Antonia will add the songs she writes about to the Spotify playlist below. This way, she creates a soundtrack to her time in Nijmegen. Click left and right for more songs.

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