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Thursday, May 22, 2014

The 4 F’s that make campus life a little less dull

Guest post written by Hannah Jonas
The Pencil Box
Tertiary level education can be a rather demanding experience – especially since it seems as if being a student instantly qualifies you for the ‘not enough sleep’ club. It constantly feels as if everything is happening at breakneck speed where if you stop to take a breather, somehow you’ve missed a deadline.

Academics aren’t the only things that are worrisome, as relationships play a huge role in a student’s life. Unwittingly angering a lecturer could lead to a very uncomfortable semester for the entire class and a feud could split the class into painfully obvious cliques. In addition to that, I’m sure you’ve felt underappreciated and trodden on at least once throughout your university life which can be very de-motivating.

Between maintaining good grades and trying to please everyone, it’s no wonder students go home at the end of a semester with no other plans besides hibernating for days on end (mom, if you’re reading this, I love you but I’m still not waking up before noon).

However, campus life isn’t really that dismal and here are a few things you can do to beat the monotony of studying:


Famous Popular Traditional Malaysian Food
Top: Roti Canai, Nasi Lemak; Bottom: Satay, Char Kuey Teow / PicCredit

This is Malaysia. We’re known for our food as well as our love for food. It doesn’t matter which part of the country you’re in, there will always be a town or city nearby that has a particular dish it is known for. Got an opening in your weekend? Grab your friends and go try out new dishes or pop into a café you’ve always been curious about but never dared to enter. Read reviews of places with interesting dishes and visit them to see if they live up to the reviews. Craving anything in particular? Make a list of all the places that claim to have the ‘best’ version of it and visit them all! You won’t just enjoy yourself; you’ll be fed and happy too, and this does wonders in improving your mood and may indirectly improve your attitude towards your education as well. I recently went on an all-day-breakfast-food hunt. It’s pretty fulfilling stuffing pancakes, toast, scrambled eggs and various types of bacon and ham down your throat at three in the afternoon.


Friends Forever
Friendship Forever / PicCredit

You don’t need to be the most social or the most popular person on campus, having one good friend is more than enough. Friends are important because social interaction (I don’t mean the virtual kind) and the need to feel like you matter to someone is a connection most people crave. Friends can help fill this void as well as keep you grounded when your studies are stressing you out, and they can offer surprisingly simple solutions to problems that are weighing you down. If you weather the trials and celebrate the triumphs with someone else, you may find that you’ve made a friend for life.


Family Members
Family Members / PicCredit

Yes! Your family is an important factor in keeping away the drudgery of campus life. Do you live at home? Keep them in the know about your day in class. Rant to them when you’re frustrated. Talking to someone who knows you well can be a cathartic experience. Live on campus? Text or call your parents once in a while and remind them that you love them. Even things like “I miss you”, and “How are the dogs?” show them that you care about things going on at home. Parents struggle with their child growing up and they like to know that they are still an important part of their child’s life. You won’t just be helping yourself relax, you help ascertain their significance.


Finances / PicCredit

The daily cry of the college student is, “I’m broke!” followed by calls to the parental unit for reinforcements or subtly pestering bosses for the cheque from the part-time job. Find ways to manage your finances that result in leftovers for the next month; and as much as possible, don’t owe anyone money. Getting a job is a good option as it doesn’t just ease the financial situation, it provides discipline and teaches you the importance of working hard and being responsible. The added bonus is that you have a little guilt-free cash on your hands (want a new phone? Save up from your salary; don’t touch the allowance your parents or your scholarship provides).

Ultimately, the end goal is to have some fun. Whether you’re attending a music festival or pigging out on ice cream or just taking a walk around a flea market, these activities help you kick back and forget about the burdens of your studies for a little while. Taking part in events that bring you to new places and new people is a good experience as it helps you hone your social skills. Not everyone can successfully haggle with a street vendor to bring down the price of a t-shirt from RM35 to RM10 – if you manage to master the art of haggling, what have you got to be afraid of when you go in front and present to the class? You know already know you’re good at arguing and being persuasive!

Activities like these also provide you with fodder for good stories that can be used to build rapport. I accidentally slipped and slid under a bus my first semester in college – it was both painful and embarrassing. Now, I utilise that tale to help break the ice when introducing myself. It makes interactions less stiff when I’m able to get someone to laugh along with me.

The key is to maintain a healthy balance of work and fun.

Hannah is a Journalism student, a tuition teacher and a dreamer of free concert tickets. Despite her young age, she has seen some tough times and has formed her own concept of how the world works. Her principal achievements to date consist of eating too many potato chips and being constantly baffled by university life. She strives to help others perceive how communication can be less complex and intimidating by utilizing the tools of her major. She is an avid fan of Doctor Who and will probably approve of you if you are as well. She occasionally contributes to The Pencil Box (www.jclathepencilbox.org), a website that accelerates the learning curve of students at university through written articles.
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