So it’s official: you are a student. Let’s be honest, that’s pretty awesome. Nothing compares to the intense satisfaction of rocking out of bed at midday, knowing that elsewhere in this same city there are bankers who crawled onto a train at sunrise. What power we students possess!
Yet with great power comes great responsibility. Whilst there’s a lot of partying, chilling out, and scrolling through Facebook watching brownie-in-a-mug tutorials to do, there are some serious things that happen at university. These serious things constitute what my friend Luca calls: the Struggle.
How does one survive the Struggle? How does one manage one’s workload whilst being a social butterfly, without going broke? Well, dear reader, pay attention. What I’m about to tell you will make your student life 10000% more magical. Sit back, relax and enjoy these uber-practical nuggets of knowledge.
HOW TO BE A SMART, SOCIABLE STUDENT: the no stress, no overdraft method
- Study like a boss
Studying needn’t be constantly pulling all-nighters, desperately trying to cram entire books into your head. Be thrifty with your time. Work out when your lectures and classes are, then build in your reading/problem sets/essays around them. If you know what you’ve got to do and how long it will take you, you’re halfway to stress-free study already. Then level-up your study game by giving yourself incentives. Constantly berating yourself for not working hard enough just will not cut it. You’ve got to give yourself a reason, a proper one, to plough through a forty page article on the methodological issues regarding academic evaluation of economic sanctions (and yes, that was one of my actual readings for this week!). Take regular rest breaks, grab lunch with a friend, go for a walk – whatever keeps you feeling good about yourself and stops your brain reaching saturation point. Most importantly, get enough sleep. Your brain literally stops working if you don’t get your five sleep-cycles a night. When you’ve got a lot on, sleeping is probably the most productive thing you can do.
- Join three societies
The very word “society” implies socialising. The number three is very lucky. Therefore, joining three societies is surely an auspicious decision, right? In all seriousness, I say “three” because that theoretically means you get a good balance of activities, without too much commitment. You don’t want to be on first team for three different sports; equally, you don’t want to be president of Amnesty, Femsoc and the Debating Society. Balance is everything. In my experience, one society that gets you active, one society that gets you thinking, and one society that has a lot of fun is a good balance. And remember, university should not be all work and no play. I know that’s hard for us at LSE to accept, but really and truly, you are ALLOWED to have fun!
- Learn to cook, AND
- Get a wok
Honestly can’t explain how much money you save just by cooking for yourself. If you have to get yourself a meal even once a week, it’s seriously worth investing a little brain power into what goes inside your stomach. Sainsbury’s Basics range is a god-send. We’re talking 85p for a pot of hummus, folks. If that ridiculous example of the cheap-and-cheerful life isn’t enough to convince you, let’s think about the time you could save. Fifteen minutes is all you need to cook your own basic pasta-and-sauce from scratch. Takeaways involve the long process of deciding where to order, what to eat, ordering, and then waiting for the food. Meanwhile, you’re still hungry, and you’re sat around doing nothing because you’re too hungry to do anything! Picking up a pan will save you a lot of wasted time.
Which leads me onto number four. Trust me on this one. Recipes will try to convince you that you need an army of pans to make a meal. Ignore them. Anything can be wok-ed. Stir-fry? In the wok. Spaghetti bolognaise? In the wok. Fajitas? Scrambled eggs? Curry? You guessed it: into the wok it goes. Seriously. Faffing about with skillets and casserole dishes and griddles is for the real adults to worry about. We students, we wok. And it tastes dang good.
- Be kind to yourself
The most important for last. LSE students are typically very driven folks. According to The Guardian, we have four times the average university rate of library book borrowing – in other words, we take our studying SERIOUSLY! This might mean we get awesome grades, but at the end of the day, if you’re miserable, what does it matter what grades you get? Don’t forget to take time out for yourself. See your friends and do the things you love. And if you’re struggling, there’s absolutely no shame in asking for help. A problem shared is a problem halved and you are absolutely never alone. The Student Counselling Service is full of lovely people ready to lend their ears for your worries – you only need ask. Believe me when I say that there is nothing – NOTHING! – more important than your health and well-being. Anyone who tells you differently needs to get their head checked!
And with that, I leave you to get on with your busy life as an LSE student. Hopefully there was something here you found useful! If you have any tips of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments below. TTFN!