A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Here is part two of things that I would like to share with my younger self to make her life a little easier.
Hope you enjoy it!
6. Always keep your focus
…on why you are studying what you are studying. Not to sound weird but even in your first year there are choices that you make, which will influence you when you graduate.
Back when I was a fresher, I never took part in anything that truly interested me (I don’t only mean student societies. Or trips around the country. Museum visits. Whatever it is for you) – because I had very poor time management, and not enough motivation.
7. Keep your files in check
This is something I have learned through my work and also – through futile multi-hour search for undiscoverable articles or notes which I am so sure I have somewhere…
I have moved more times than I can count, and only a small fraction of my paper files are still with me. And it is not the most relevant selection of them…
Do not get me started on the file organisation that I used to have on my personal laptop. Even the search tool would not find what I looked for.
Make a system and make it a habit. That way not only do you learn better but also you will have access to relevant articles and notes later on.
One particular piece of advice I can give you is to download all your course documents (like bibliographies and reading lists) from blackboard, and store them so that you can later find them, and not hastily have to do that a week or two before an important exam or paper. I so much wish I had started doing it years ago!
And a lesson from last night: make backups of all important files.
8. If you can, go travelling!
And especially, around the Netherlands. The beaches are beautiful even though (technically) there are no many mountains. And there are so many places to discover just a train/bike ride away. It can brighten up even a rainy weekend if you pick up your study materials and head over to a new place to study. Or head over to Groningen, and finish a paper while on the train, there are so much less distractions that way! (tip: check the NS website beforehand…. You do not want to be stuck with 10+ transfers on the way, if there are road works!)
Try to visit as many places abroad as you wish – and can. I had the chance to go around lots of places, yet I wish I had done some more exploring.
9. Surround yourself with new great friends
Make friends, who make you be a better version of yourself – this might sound like a cliché but that does not make it less true. The living abroad ride is not made easier if you do not have people to rely on in your new home. Skype is great, and you should by all means keep in contact with people who matter to you.
But do not forget to attend campus events, and just generally be out there: you can learn so much, and make a new circle of friends here.
10. And well, do not forget to appreciate what you have
At some point in time, you dedicated yourself to studying abroad – and you made it! Do not start taking it as granted, appreciate it. You never know when you will have to leave, and it is easy to just follow your daily routine. I can tell you for a fact that even if you cannot wait to leave, there will be things you will miss when you do. So make sure to take it all in!
I hope that maybe some of those points resonate with you. Everyone is unique, and life is different for all of us. But there are some shared experiences too – and occasionally, it can be nice to learn from others.
Feel free to write in comments if you have any remarks, I would love to hear back!
To jump to Part 1, please follow this link.