The imminent end of my first year as an undergraduate student at LSE is the perfect time to reflect on the past year, especially the first term with all its achievements, failures, and valuable experiences. Autumn term 2022 was certainly full of novelty, struggles and excitement. It was a term of change and growth, which taught me a lot about the realities of student life.
The biggest lesson I learned in my first term at LSE was the incomparable importance of effective time management and planning. Going from high school education into university studies is an immense shift when it comes to freedom and independence of studying, and the responsibility which derives from it accordingly. While the number of contact hours at university is significantly lower, the amount of readings and essays to work on certainly increases, and therefore finding time and motivation to effectively manage the academic workload has been a challenge. Together with society and club commitments, finding the time to socialise and hang out with friends, and completing daily chores such as grocery shopping, I often found myself doing multiple things at once and stressing about getting everything done on time. Towards the end of term, I realised that sometimes it is impossible to fit everything into 24 hours and it is crucial to set priorities and establish routines that add structure to the day. What helped me was taking time to create daily and weekly to-do lists and making sure I contributed a few hours to self-studying almost every day. Using a digital calendar where I included all my tasks, events and activities allowed me to see what I could realistically achieve on a given day.
An equally important lesson was taking time to relax and effectively balance university work with other activities. With pending assignments, university can get stressful and overwhelming sometimes, thus one of my priorities for the rest of the year was to balance rigorous academic work with fun extracurricular activities and rest. Autumn term made me realise the value of joining Student Union’s clubs and societies, to spend quality time with great people after long hours of studying. One of the best decisions was joining the Athletics and Running team, which is involved in a lot of training sessions and cross-country competitions. Doing sports allows me to focus on physical rather than mental tasks, and I found it a perfect way to take a break and enjoy some time in nature. Going into the second term, I was more consistent with my running training and got more involved in societies such as the literature society, to keep balance, which allowed me to be successful in my academic work.
Furthermore, connected to finding balance was my aim to prioritise sleeping and an optimal sleeping schedule. In the first term I often found myself staying late to finish my readings or waking up at inconsistent hours depending on the time of my classes each day, which resulted in a poor sleeping schedule and frequent reliance on coffee. By the end of term, I became constantly tired and experienced a slight burnout, and was really looking forward to sleeping in during the winter break at home. I realised that such a lifestyle was not efficient and optimal for me, therefore I was committed to changing it in the Winter term. This allowed me to add structure to my day and ensure that by the end of the term, I was not, once again, relying on the break to take some rest.