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Settling (back) in

29 January 2019

Coming back to Verona after four weeks at home for Christmas to be greeted by exams is not fun. After all the comforts of home, the excitement of Christmas and all my friends being home for a few weeks, I have to say settling back in to life in Verona was a struggle. With exams looming, I struggled to get into a daily routine again. Having done three exams and an essay before Christmas I’ll admit that throughout the holidays I did no work. I felt like I had earned a break after spending the run-up to Christmas shut away in my room or the library studying all day.

That’s why I decided to come back to Italy a couple of weeks before my exams started. It was difficult to say goodbye to my family and friends again, not knowing if I would see them before summer now. But with exams approaching, and the fact that I was getting no work done at home (my dog is the biggest distraction), going back to Verona a bit early was my last-ditch attempt at actually getting some revision done. I had to tell myself that all my friends at home would be heading back to university soon too. And as for my family, it was so nice to be back home with them during Christmas, but if I spent much longer at home I probably would have killed them so there’s that too.

As I begin to fall into a good routine, I thought I’d share some tips for settling (back) in to university life and exam period after a long break:

Yes, revision is important, but so is everything else like eating, exercising and relaxing.

Don’t skip meals to carry on revising because chances are you won’t retain as much information as you would after a good meal. Your mind and body will start to tire and any work you do will be a waste of time, so eat well and have regular breaks to allow your brain to catch up – this will refresh you and allow you to continue working just as hard after.

– Force yourself to do some form of exercise every day. Going for a walk or run in the fresh air will refresh your mind and body and enable you to retain more information. Record yourself saying your notes and listen to it while you go for a run – you’re getting exercise, fresh air and still revising! Win win. Even doing a light workout in your room is better than nothing. I’m all for watching a YouTube exercise video and sweating it out in the comfort of my room before getting back to revision. Getting up from your desk every so often is essential. As an excuse to leave the house every day, I buy my food little and often. I go to a shop across town, so I am out of the house for at least a couple of hours each day, taking a nice walk through the city as I do so.

– It is crucial to relax during exam time, too. Make sure you schedule in time to chill out and watch Netflix in the evening. However, talking from experience, don’t fall into the Netflix quicksand and binge an entire series as procrastination. (Eight episodes in a day – I don’t know if I’m embarrassed or proud?)

Catch up with your flatmates every day to make sure neither you or they are trapping themselves away working for too long. Make dinner together, watch TV together for a bit or even revise together in the kitchen or the library. Human interaction is vital to maintain good mental health and not go stir-crazy during this stressful time.

That’s procrastination over for me, time to get back to the books!