Apart from getting to see the world and meeting amazing people, studying abroad throws you in at the deep end in terms of developing life skills. I thought I’d share my experience of trying to ground a good work-life balance while being in New Zealand. It definitely hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learnt a lot from my experience so far…
Before I ventured abroad I thought of myself as being someone with good time management, balancing uni, a part time job, and the social life that comes along with living in Manchester. It’s always difficult given how intense uni work can get, but knowing how much work and time you need to put in for specific things is definitely something you get used to and learn what is best for you. Going abroad pretty much throws off the routine you had at home with balancing uni work with everything else, so it’s in adjusting to a new way of doing things that you really develop those skills in nailing a productive work-life balance.
I definitely struggled with this initially. When I arrived, I threw myself into meeting people and going on trips, trying to see the country and do much as I can while I’m here. I admittedly neglected uni, to an extent, as I struggled to keep on top of the work load, prioritising other things. There was one week where I had two 2000 word assignments due and one midterm within the space of 4 days. I’ve never been more last minute on essays in my academic life. It was a turning point for me because I recognised that I needed to sort out my priorities in order to make the most of the opportunity to both see the country and do well academically.
At the end of the day you’re at uni to get a good degree and develop skills for life, so it’s important not to sink into a frame of mind where uni is just secondary to your travel plans. Nailing a good balance between travel and putting in uni work allows you to enjoy your time travelling more because there’s much less stress on the work load. Also, throwing yourself into uni life abroad definitely broadens you academically. Now that I’m putting more time into uni work I’m finding that the different teaching style here in Auckland is really benefiting me and I’ve easily caught up. The lectures I have are very discussion based and depend on student participation in much smaller class settings than I experience in Manchester. Once I’d started to put a bit more work in I found that this style of lecture greatly helped my learning and understanding.
I’m basically trying to make the point that when abroad it’s certainly difficult to manage your time, but when you do manage a good balance, it’s then that you start to make the most of your short time abroad. My grade average is picking up from a poor start, and I’m not constantly in the library by any means. I’m still travelling and seeing the amazing things NZ has to offer. I got back from ten days on the South Island last week during mid-semester break, having had the best time, and I’m off to Wellington for the weekend tomorrow! I feel as though I’m more on top of uni work now and it has depreciated the stress of maintaining good grades while I’m here.
Of course, I’m just talking from my own experience, some people get into the swing of it straight away and have no issues with staying on top of uni work when they get here. Personally, this experience has taught me a lot about how to manage my time. I do still struggle to stay on top of everything all the time (as I do at home) but it is definitely more manageable now, and I can much more productively make the most of this opportunity.
You can’t think about essays during a 70 second free fall.