It’s that time of the year again – by that I don’t mean the pre- Christmas time (although it already feels like we are getting close to winter), but end of the first semester block – meaning that it’s the beloved exam time again!
Yes, studying abroad also involves this unpleasant part called “studying”, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be locked up in your room for an entire week! We compiled some tips on how to beat procrastination and stress.
Every university has different procedures for registering and taking exams. Check the exam schedule in advance and also ask your fellow Dutch students or teachers how exams are organized at your host university (usually, doors open 15 minutes prior to the exam) or if you can receive sample questions. Also, make sure to avoid last-minute biking to an exam – the excuse of a flat tire usually doesn’t count as an excuse in the Netherlands!
Find the perfect study plekjes (= study spots) for you
Who doesn’t know the feeling that you suddenly feel the inner urge to have a pre- spring-cleaning session or bake that fancy cake, when you should actually study?! Those are some typical procrastination examples, which are not wrong in its purpose, but just not perfectly compatible with the timing. A potential solution to put a stop to this common student issue is to find non-distracting study areas, such as city libraries or cafés where you have comfortable sitting and lighting facilities, as well as a good internet connection and enough desk space. Some of you might have already picked their favourite café or university library spot (otherwise check out our previous blog post Top 5 Study Spots in Utrecht https://esnutrecht-blog.com/2015/09/30/top-5-study-spots-in-utrecht/). Be alert to either come early or expect to search for a good plekje (= place to sit) during the study periods, since study spots are ‘hot goods’ and once taken, sometimes occupied the entire day. The website link http://studyspot.uu.nl/ enables you to find almost all available study places at Utrecht University. For detailed information on opening hours, please check the website of the libraries, such as the Utrecht University’s City library http://www.uu.nl/en/university-library/practical-information/opening-hours.
Taking naps is great, but also quite time-consuming and sometimes just an easy excuse to procrastinate. Rather take half an hour to go for a walk or a bike ride to clear your thoughts. Nice side effect – you’ll see more of Utrecht and maybe even find a perfect jogging trail just around the corner. Moreover, Utrecht has several nice parks to offer – the Wilhelminapark in Oudwijk, Giftpark in the Vogelenbuurt or the Julianapark in Zuilen to name a few, where you can perfectly go for a walk or jog to enjoy the falling leaves of autumn.
Even though pizza’s are sometimes just way to convenient when you simply do not find the time to cook a proper meal, however, they shouldn’t become your basic food. Not only will your jeans get tighter, but also you’ll feel constantly hungry and just not satisfied, so the procrastination food hunting kicks in. In addition to the cold weather, treat yourself some vitamins and try to eat some veggies or fruits in between to not get hit by an annoying cold. Studying is quite intensive for our bodies so fuel it up with some essentials. And don’t forget to drink enough water or tea (not necessarily wine 😉 ). Also, cooking with some of your friends or roommates can also just be a relaxing break and you can show off your amazing international cooking skills or try to cook some Dutch Hutspot (check out our previous blog post for inspiration: https://esnutrecht-blog.com/2015/10/12/the-perfect-dutch-meal-for-cold-weather-hutspot/).
Don’t be fooled by the vicious circle of working until late at night and getting up late in the morning after 11 am. Even though you might feel to be more productive at night, our bodies really need the night sleep to recharge and also to memorize all the studied knowledge. So, try to be your own employee by working your daily amount of hours to also relax in the evening by watching a movie or having a borrel (= Dutch expression for having a drink and some snacks with friends) with some of your ‘fellow-sufferers’.
Good luck for all of you! May the study force be with you!