There are many components to the adventure that is study abroad. Weekends of travel are generally interspersed with the expectation of completing assignments and attending classes. From this, quite the dichotomy emerges. There is a fine line between spending too much time travelling, and missing the important experience of learning in a new culture and environment, and missing out on incredible travelling opportunities.
Now, I cannot give you a definitive answer to successfully maneuvering the hectic schedule of study abroad. It is safe to say that I have by no means mastered this myself. However, I can attempt to offer some insights based on my own experiences thus far, and hopefully provide some helpful tips.
Queen Mary has an amazing range of modules to choose from. Beyond the occasional stress of assignments, it is important to engage with topics that may differ to the ones at your home university. I genuinely have taken a strong interest in most of my modules, and have sought to apply myself into the classes as much as possible. While this sounds simple in theory, in practice, it can often cause quite the dilemma.
Picture having three assignments to finish before an early morning flight – this was my reality. The excitement and adrenaline of your impending travel plans will only take you so far with a 2,500-word limit looming over your head. While this sounds horrible, and granted, it wasn’t ideal, you will get through it.
If there is anything to take from this, it is to try your best to remain organised and do not leave things to the last minute. Your professors are also there if you need advice, feedback or just general assistance – they are a valuable resource, so be sure to use them.
Now for the fun part. After a sleepless night of churning out an essay, you will be rewarded with all of Europe at your doorstep. Therefore, a seemingly endless night of study can eventuate into touching down in the beautiful island, Tenerife. Like I said, it’s all about balance.
As an Aussie, I was undeniably missing the sun and the ocean. So, Tenerife was the perfect destination for me. It is important to unwind and relax, however it is you do so. As they say, work hard, play hard. For me, this involved lying on the stunning beaches while sipping a refreshing cocktail. For others, simply visiting another city or exploring an historical site may do the trick. Whatever it is, ensure that you make the time to do it.
Queen Mary has a great social scene. Between fellow exchange students and the countless societies and clubs available, you are bound to establish a strong network of friends. There are always weekly events throughout the semester, ranging from sports to nights out on campus. To truly experience university life at Queen Mary, you should endeavour to immerse yourself in at least some of these clubs or events. They are definitely worthwhile, and a lot of fun.
I joined the QMBL women’s basketball club early in the semester and was immediately welcomed into their group. The trainings consist of one ‘official’ session on Monday nights (5:30-7:30) with the coaches, and a more casual ‘Get Active’ session on Thursday nights. There are also weekly ‘boys vs girls’ games on Tuesday nights which are loads of fun! Official games are held throughout the semester, either on Wednesday or Sunday, depending on which team you are in. There is no pressure to attend all trainings/games, as sometimes things come up, but you are always greeted with a smile and guaranteed a fun time.
Personally, I have found joining a sport club to be an excellent way to stay active, spend time with friends and have a break from study. Maintaining physical health is also an important component of a healthy mind, and can assist in eliminating the many stresses associated with study abroad.
Now I know what you are all wondering. Between study, travel and social events, when on earth do we have time to sleep. I have asked myself this same question. Truthfully, there will be days when you feel tired and a little run down. When this happens, don’t forget to take some time for yourself to just chill. Amid this array of exciting yet tiring aspects of study abroad, it is crucial to consider your wellbeing. Do not feel guilty about taking some time to simply watch a movie or take a nap, it can do wonders in the long run.
So, like most things in life, study abroad is all about balance. Once some level of stability is formed, you will feel more settled into your life at Queen Mary. Across each of these elements, you can experience the incredible opportunities that study abroad offers, without sacrificing your wellbeing or happiness. In doing this, I can guarantee that you will fall in love with life at Queen Mary.
So, remember to stay positive, and maintain balance.