Finals Week & Self-Care Abroad

Ashley Simmons
May 9, 2016

Here is the time of the semester where No Pasa Nada and I could not possibly be more of enemies. I don't know how to quite not pasa nada because there is so much work that needs to be done, so at the moment, pasa mucho. But...they say keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer. 

Finals week, whether abroad or at home in the U.S. is bound to bring some kind of undesired stress of some form. For me that means I am measuring my last days in Granada not in actual days but in the 5 papers, 3 presentations, 3 exams, and project I have left, feeling that I'm now holding my breath and can only exhale after it's all over. Yet, I have to remind myself, as I'm reminding my peers, the importance of self-care.

Yes, it is our responsibility to make sure we plan wisely and dedicate enough time to studying for our exams and sending our papers to our intercambios for spellchecks (Thank you, Julia.) but it's also our responsibility to take care of our bodies and minds. 

Here are some tips for simply clearing your head when all of this work gets to be way too much: 

Go for a walk

I know you’re overwhelmed with everything that’s stacked up on your To-Do list but don’t forget that you’re studying abroad, and consequently have access to some of the most beautiful scenery. Go for a walk. Breathe in fresh air. Let some sun shine on your skin. Talk to someone new or even call someone from home in the process. Going for a walk can, in a way, be a form of meditation that’s very necessary to get through finals madness. Even 10 minutes outside can make all of the difference. 

Listen to some music 

As a person who is and has always been obsessed with everything art, music is definitely one of my outlets for stress. Good music combined with a bit of exercise (and probably frozen yogurt after because life is about balance) is the perfect equation for a calmer headspace. The right music can make you smile or laugh even, make life a little bit brighter for the moment, and we all need that when we have several presentations (in Spanish) waiting for us. Make a "Finals Playlist” and keep yourself lifted. 

Take a shower! 

Showers change lives. And also, for whatever reason, help me write my papers because I can then somehow think about everything from the Space-time Continuum to how I need to go to the grocery store and buy more nail polish remover…Either way, showers. Take a hot shower and put on music and dance in the pseudo-rain and cleanse your body and mind simultaneously.  

Take a nap!!

Sleeping is oh-so-important and I know that, unfortunately, more often than not, we all pull all-nighters and try to catch up on any late work, or try to crash through that 10 page paper because tapas and discotecas. Why not. But I cannot possibly stress the importance of sleep more than I am in this very sentence: Your body cannot properly function or retain information if you do not sleep. The gloriously desired 8 hours can sometimes be a bit of a stretch, so even a siesta will settle. If you’re tired, sleep! You’ll be able to come back to your work with a clearer mind. 

A brief break in my tips:  

We can all become a little mental breakdown prone during Finals Week so go through this list and ask yourself a few of these questions, then proceed with an appropriate and much needed amount of self-love. 


Am I taking good care of myself? 

Have I eaten today? 

Have I showered? 

Who can I call to talk to? 

Are my surroundings clean? 

Is there any good music I can listen to lift my moods?

Have I exercised recently?

Have I seen any sunshine? 

Are there lights on? 

Have I stepped outside? 

Am I drinking enough water?

Have I written in my journal lately?

Have I slept at least 8 hours? Do I need a nap? 

What are small goals I can set for myself to get through today? 

What have I done for myself?

How am I treating myself? 


Onto the final conesjo



The most important of all of these little tips (which should probably be placed as the first one but no pasa nada). Remember to breathe. Finals is the end of the semester, not the end of the world. Take a moment and do yoga if you like, meditate, write, reflect on not just all that you have left to do, but all that you have accomplished.

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Ashley Simmons

Ashley is the 2015-16 IES Abroad Blogger of the Year! A Junior at Brandeis University, Ashley studies English, Creative Writing, Film, Television, and Interactive Media, as well as Creativity, The Arts and Social Transformation. On campus Ashley is an English Undergraduate Departmental Representative. Originally from Washington D.C., she enjoys cooking, reading, playing the piano, playing video games, and being with her family and friends.

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