All is fun and games until you remember it’s midterms.
Swept up in the glamor and freedom of living your best life abroad, it is easy to forget the real reason you are in a new country: school.
In my case, I spent my early days in Dublin exploring, going out with friends, finding all the best dinner spots, and generally relishing the fact that after so long at home, I was out and about in the world.
Everything in Ireland recently opened up too, and with that, I had so many more things to see: from museums to pubs, bookstores and cafes. I was determined to absorb as much as I could about the Irish way of life.
It’s a noble pursuit—diving headfirst into the social culture of a new place, trying to pick up on all the local customs and hotspots—but it really isn’t the only reason I flew across the Atlantic.
I came for the Writers Program, a chance to learn how to tell stories in one of the literature capitals of the world, one that is responsible for producing so many great authors.
If I want to take a spot among the greats, I have to remember to dedicate the same amount of focus into the coursework as I do into experiencing everything. Yes, I would love to go out tonight, but I have a midterm due at the end of the week. A movie sounds great, but I have to finish this reading first. My story is up for workshop this week, so I really have to focus on that, mind if we get lunch on Friday instead?
By no means am I saying that it is better to forgo exploration for schoolwork or vice versa, simply there needs to be a balance.
Some things I do to help keep me on the right track when there is so much to see:
- Keep a planner. I update my planner every week with the assignments I know I have coming up and cross them off as I complete them. Not only does it help me organize, it’s very satisfying to have a physical copy of all the things I get done. Plus, if I’m planning something more exciting, like a weekend trip, I put that in too, so I have a goal to work toward.
- Group study sessions. When I want to hang out with my friends but also have work to do, my favorite option is a group study session. We grab some snacks and drinks (my go-to is popcorn and boba) and settle into a common area to study. I always feel like I’m being productive, but not at the expense of having a good time.
- Find a good coffee shop with a Wi-Fi connection. Luckily, just down the block from the IES Abroad center is Grove Road coffee shop. It’s the perfect space to grab a warm drink after class and get some work down. I recommend finding a nice window seat and getting a warm croissant to nibble on while working.
We abroad students have such an amazing opportunity to really learn in a completely different atmosphere, and schoolwork shouldn’t be a deterrent to experiencing everything you can in your host country, it should complement it.
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<p>Sammi Bilitz is a junior at Indiana University enrolled in the Writer's Program in Dublin, Ireland. She is studying journalism and international studies and is so excited to explore what Ireland has to offer. In her free time, you can find her huddled up in some bookstore with a steaming cup of tea in hand.</p>