Image: Work/Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Maintaining a work-life balance at university

Balancing free time with academic work commitments is essential. At university, there is so much to choose from and to take part in. Even though it was nearly six months ago, I will never forget my first ever societies fair. All the stands, the business and noise made quite an experience for a new fresher. I recall signing up for multiple groups, heading over to any area that looked interesting, all while unaware of what my specific university interests would contain.

This reflected my eventual university experience. Of course, I could never commit to every society I had signed up to as there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. In the end, I had to decide what my top interests were and how I wanted my three years of independence to be defined. Attending university inevitably involves decisions over what matters. Just as each student selects certain modules, selectivity within extracurricular life is also inevitable.

My degree will always be my first and foremost priority

In deciding to prioritise certain activities, this meant discarding many of my interests. While there are definitely more societies I would have liked to join, I needed to remember what I was here to do. My degree will always be my first and foremost priority. It will feature at the top of any CV I make and ultimately be my key memory from university. Maintaining a good work-life balance is important so taking part in certain societies must also be combined with the academic side of my education.

It can be hard to reject activities or experiences. When there is a constant mindset of finding new events to improve your CV, not wasting a day and always experiencing something different, swimming against the tide of busyness feels impossible.

As exams get nearer, the focus will inevitably draw towards revision and preparation ahead of any external activities. This is not a bad thing. The previous terms were definitely the ones with the time to prioritise new events and extracurricular activities but now the hard work begins before the long summer break ahead.

I simply have more time to take part in events and say yes to things

As a fresher, I decided to take advantage of a year of (almost) freedom from an excess of academic work to throw myself into activities. I still want to do well academically but my marks this year don’t count towards my final degree classification. By living on campus, I have the added liberty of being within walking distance of my accommodation and lecture theatres. I simply have more time to take part in events and say yes to things.

Indeed, I imagine this is how I will end up saying no to more events next year. No doubt the workload and seriousness of my academic studies will increase. By commuting in and out of campus every morning, I will inevitably feel more tired and have less energy for extracurricular activities. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to that personal time on the bus reading a book or listening to podcasts.

That doesn’t mean that the things I have loved from my first year are likely to end next year. Regardless of extracurricular activities, I will still be learning.

Each year at university comes with new things to learn and new challenges to take on

Throughout my life, all of my commutes have been relatively straightforward with many of them within walking distance. I will soon no longer be naive to the trials and tribulations of the bus service. I am also learning more and more about the world of housing and contracts at a speedy pace. Each year at university comes with new things to learn and new challenges to take on.

A new bunch of freshers will be arriving on campus sooner than expected. It will then be their turn to take on the university experience and enjoy all the hundreds of new activities open to them. However, that doesn’t mean the path for renewal is closed to us soon-to-be second or third years. Rather, there may be less time personally to enjoy activities but that time could be spent helping freshers to enjoy new opportunities and shaping their university adventures.

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