Study Tips from a College Senior

Being a student can be stressful at times, especially when exam period rolls around. It’s hard to stay positive and motivated when we live in a world where a person is judged by their GPA. With mid-term exams just around the corner, I thought I’d share some personal study tips:

– Find a good study environment and stick to it: While it’s a lot more comfortable studying at home than anywhere else, I’ve found that it greatly affects my productivity. I tend to take advantage of the fact that I’m home and procrastinate heaps (by procrastinate, I mean check the fridge constantly). I personally prefer studying at a coffee shop not far from my university. Being surrounded by other students keeps me motivated and the coffee is a plus. Others, however, prefer the silent atmosphere of a library. If you insist on staying home however, avoid studying on your bed as it will only make you sleepy.

– Silence your cell phone: I get bored and restless while studying sometimes and fidget with my phone. It’s so easy to wind up texting or checking your social media feeds, next thing you know you’ve been on your phone for half an hour and haven’t gotten any work done. The best thing to do is put your phone on silent so you won’t be distracted by texts or social media notifications every minute.

– Refer to your notes: I can’t stress the importance of taking notes during lectures. There have been so many times I’ve had to refer to my notebook to double check a concept explained in the textbook. Sometimes the textbook over-complicates things so what I like to do is write notes in my own words while the professor is speaking, that way I can make sure I’ll be able to understand and remember them later on.

– Key words: At the end of every chapter in a textbook there’s usually a section that lists all the key words of that chapter. After reading the chapter, I test myself by defining each of these key words aloud. I’ve found that reading aloud helps me memorize better.

– Study schedule: Many people claim this never works but it’s worked for me time and time again. Don’t stress on finishing a chapter by a certain hour, as long as you finish it by a certain day. Leave room for breaks and distractions so long as you can sleep with a relaxed mind and conscience.

– Study buddy: At the beginning of the semester, I make sure I know someone in each of my classes incase I’m ever absent or need help solving a problem. Studying together helps too. Although I personally prefer studying alone the first few days of exam period, towards the end I like to get together with a friend and revise everything + test each other before the exam.

– Solve previous exams: These are good practice and can give you an idea of what you’re up against, so if you can get your hands on one or more it’d give you a huge advantage. Pretend you’re taking the actual exam, try to complete it by a specified time and don’t pause to check individual answers, rather correct the whole paper once you’re done that way you can see which topics are your strongpoints and which need to be revised.

– Ask for help: A lot of times I brushed off concepts I didn’t understand simply because I wasn’t bothered to check or didn’t want to ask for help. I told myself they’ll never come on the exam but guess what? They did.

– A good night’s sleep: Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. You’re going to need a clear mind and good amount of energy to complete an exam. So many people I know regularly pull all-nighters but I never allow myself to reach that stage.

Did you find these tips useful? Is there anything you can add?

The Book List Challenge

Those who are closest to me know that I’m an avid reader. I’m constantly looking for good books to add to my collection and love giving and receiving books as gifts.

Now that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has come and gone, a new challenge has taken over social media: The Book List Challenge. The task is to list 10 books that have impacted you in some way, and nominate others to do the same. I was nominated a few days ago and here’s my take on it (in no particular order):

  1. Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom
  2. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
  3. You’re Hired – Bill Rancic
  4. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
  5. Harry Potter Series – J.K Rowling
  6. In Someone Else’s Shoes – Joseph Assaf
  7. My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult
  8. The Giver – Lois Lowry
  9. Sisters – Danielle Steel
  10. A Walk To Remember – Nicholas Sparks

I now nominate other bookworms to the challenge, go ahead and comment below 🙂 would love to hear your recommendations as well as thoughts on my list.

Senior Reflections

This week I’ll be heading into my last ever semester at university while others will head into their first. I still remember my first day at Uni like it were yesterday; there are so many things I know now that I wish I’d known then that would have made life so much easier for a shy, anxious freshman like myself. I often reflect on that time now that I’m a senior, and if I could go back to that first day:

I’d tell myself that it’s okay to let go of those high school friendships that I valued so much. None of my close friends attended the same university as me; they all went to another university together. It was really hard to adjust to the idea that while they could all take classes together, share dorm rooms, and hang out during breaks, I had no-one. During my breaks I would go to their university to see them as it was within walking distance from mine. I wanted so badly for things not to change. But I eventually stopped visiting and this only benefitted me because if I had been stuck with my high school friends throughout university I would’ve never had the chance to build new lifelong friendships. Not all high school friendships are meant to last; things change and you eventually grow apart and that’s all right because some of those friendships were based solely on convenience i.e. the fact that you were together 5 days a week for 5 years.

I’d tell myself to be more active and join a university sport team or student club. I waited till my junior year to do this and have regretted it since. It’s a great way to put yourself out there and meet people who share the same interests as you. Not to mention you’ll be doing something useful with your time and engaging in activities you love.

I’d tell myself to work harder on my GPA. During the first year of Uni you should look to acquire the highest possible GPA because you’ll be taking basic courses that are essentially a recap of those you took in high school. The course load will only get harder and denser over the years and it won’t be easy to keep your GPA up. Grades do matter, as I would later find out when applying for internships and many companies requested a copy of my transcript.

I’d tell myself to choose better elective courses. A lot of people choose electives for the sake of grades and I don’t blame them. But if there’s something you’re passionate about besides the major you’re already pursuing, then why not choose your elective courses based on that and get a minor or diploma out of it? I took an interest to journalism later on in my university life; I was majoring in Finance and decided to do a minor in Media Studies after hearing about the program through a friend. However, this meant I had to stay an extra semester and couldn’t graduate on time. I don’t regret my decision because I’ve loved each of my Media courses till now, but if I had taken media courses as electives earlier on instead of the other random courses I chose then I wouldn’t have been behind.

I’d tell myself to make friends with professors. Forget about looking like the teacher’s pet, these are the people you’re going to want to keep in contact with after graduation. Networking is an essential step in landing your dream job and you shouldn’t wait till after graduation to do it. Besides, it won’t hurt to have a few friends in the industry that you can reach out to for advice or a recommendation.

I’d tell myself to get out of my comfort zone and do a semester abroad. My university offers many semester abroad programs around the world. A friend of mine did a semester abroad in the U.S and another friend went to Paris, France. Not only is it an amazing experience but a great opportunity to travel and discover different parts of the world. I guess I was too scared to make a big life change at the time and didn’t want to be away from my family & friends for 6 months. If the opportunity were to present itself again though, I’d definitely take it.

To all those about to embark on their university journey, I hope this was helpful. The thought that in a few months I will be an alumnus makes me cringe. I grew to love university life and all that comes with it. It’s one of those wonderful life experiences you can never get back so make the most of it and good luck!

12 Ways To Do Good Today

photoI’m all for paying it forward. There’s no better feeling than knowing you made a difference in the world whether it be big or small. I drive past this piece of graffiti in Beirut almost every day and it inspired me to write this post in the hope that you will be encouraged, like I was, to go out there and do some good each day. These may seem like cliché and minor gestures but if each person did at least one of these things it could have an even greater impact.

1. Lend a hand to a stranger: Prove that there are kind people left in the world. Help someone carry their groceries, slow down the car to allow a pedestrian to cross the road, provide directions to a lost tourist, give your seat away on a crowded bus/train… The list is endless.

2. Donate blood: There will always be someone battling for their life and in need of blood. Go to your nearest hospital and donate. The best part? It doesn’t cost a thing.

3. Mail a handwritten card: Have a friend or family member living abroad? Forget social media and send a traditional handwritten card reminding them of how much you love and miss them. If you’re the one that’s abroad, how about send a postcard from your destination? I’m positive it’ll make them smile.

4. Plant a tree: Is your backyard looking a little dull? Why not make the world greener and plant some flowers or shrubs? Better yet, a tree. Find your local nursery and get creative.

5. Leave a large tip: Waiters and bartenders tend to get low wages and generally have to rely on tips for a living. Next time you’re out for lunch, dinner or drinks and are satisfied with the service, leave an abnormally large tip and make someone’s day.

6. Pay your parents/grandparents a visit: Sometimes the most important people in our lives, the ones who gave us life and raised us, go unappreciated. Take some time out of your day to check up on them and show you’re thinking of them. If they live far away, give them a phone call.

7. Sign up as a volunteer: Find a local NGO you’re passionate about and join the team. For example, I’m currently volunteering once a week at the Saint Jude’s Children’s Cancer Center. If your busy schedule doesn’t allow you to volunteer, many NGO’s have monthly donation programs.

8. Take a younger sibling out: There comes a point where younger siblings can often feel neglected once the older sibling reaches a certain age and prefers hanging out with friends instead. But always remember that family comes first so plan a day out with your younger sibling. Take them to the zoo, go to the cinema, rent some bikes and go for a bike ride. If you’re the youngest sibling, you can do this with a younger cousin.

9. Recycle: There are countless recycle bins around the city, make use of them and contribute to saving the environment in the process.

10. Adopt a pet: If you’re an animal lover, consider adopting a pet instead of buying one. You’ll be saving a life and providing a loving home to an animal in need of it.

11. Give away old books/toys: Remember those childhood books dusting away on the bookshelf? Pack them up and take them to your local library, primary school, or orphanage where the next generation of kids can fall in love with them like you did. Do the same with old toys.

12. Give a homeless person a gift card: Whether it be for a clothing store, supermarket, or coffee shop, it could make a huge difference in someone’s life who would otherwise never have dreamed of walking into these places.