A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
This post is primarily aimed at new students starting in February.
So it’s nearly the New Year, a time when many people look back over what they’ve accomplished and reflect upon their lives. I’ve never really been one for New Year’s resolutions, but this year I’m making an effort, and this is why.
The last four months have been the first time I’ve lived away from home, and this experience has given me a new level of independence which has encouraged me to take more responsibility over my life. Being a Uni student comes all sorts of new responsibilities. There’s all the obvious stuff; shopping, cooking, cleaning and so on – but then there are less obvious ones, like becoming the person that you want to be. When starting at University, everyone is presented with an opportunity to reinvent themselves, as you are constantly introducing yourself to new people over the first few weeks. What do you choose to say about yourself? What sort of person do you want to come across as? In your hometown, or with your parents, these decisions have already been made and people have formed their opinions about you, but at University this has yet to happen. (DISCLAIMER: Of course it is important to be yourself and not worry too much about what others think of you, but equally it is important to understand the degree of control you have over your ‘self’ and the opinions others form of it.) So this opportunity to reinvent oneself is used in different ways. Some people start over: nearly everyone knows somebody who “changed” or “was different” after going away. Others stick to those things that they found important before. Most people do a bit of both in moderation, which is usually the best way to do things.
However, the decisions that you make at this stage affect the choices that you will make later on. If you let yourself go and present yourself as a carefree party animal, you’ll probably spend more time clubbing than doing coursework in your first year. Of course, you could also decide to socialise with your classmates, and find study partners for final assignments and then party afterwards. You can always join committees too, or if you prefer, you could focus wholly on your own personal study. What’s crucial is that you find the right balance for you, as otherwise you could get unhappy. Of course, everyone wants to do less work and have more free time, but at Uni your free time is often dependent upon your progress in your assignments.
This brings me on to my new years resolution. As much as I have enjoyed my first semester, I feel that I didn’t make the most of it. Next year, I will try to focus more on my studies when I have deadlines to meet, in order to have more free time when they are completed. Instead of dragging out one assignment over a weekend, I’ll try and finish it one evening in the week. That way I’ll have more time to enjoy myself and read and socialise, and will spend less time stressed out and buried in work. This is how I hope to become the person I want to be next year, by prioritising those things that matter to me (my friends and my free time) and working harder for them.
All the best for the New Year, enjoy the parties, and maybe even spend a moment thinking about who you could become!