University is stressful and sometimes gets on our nerves – it’s a fact. But we choose our subjects for a reason, and just because we live and breathe them, it is not to say that we should fall out of love with them. Us nerds must keep doing what we love and pioneer the future.
Sure, there is always that module that you really don’t like, there are always assignments that feel longer than the history of Warwick itself, and there will be moments when you question why you decided to even study STEM in the first place. But it’s vital to contextualise issues and know that all of us share similar feelings about our courses. Obstacles like stress and feeling overwhelmed contribute to disliking our degree, making us feel like we ‘hate’ our subject – these feelings are what can kill our love for science. A lot of avoidable stress spawns from inadequate time-management, which perpetuates feelings of being behind or having an obscene amount of work to tackle. So, plan your time, no matter how roughly. Know when lab reports are due and when you are presenting to your tutor group. Get started early, even if it’s just pulling together some sources on the day you get the assignment. Uni is hard, but it’s a whole lot easier if you stay on top of your workload.
You can be both a massive nerd AND go to POP every Wednesday!
Another antidote to the many pains of a STEM degree is making loads of course friends. There is little better than ranting to your friends about a tedious assignment or the amount of stress that you feel towards exam season. You will almost certainly find they also hate that assignment and are feeling anxious about exams. This leads me to my next pearl of wisdom: have a social life! You can be both a massive nerd AND go to POP every Wednesday! Coming back to an essay after an evening off means you can look at your progress with a fresh set of eyes. Leaving your work until the morning is better than carrying on for six hours because you can’t concentrate and want to throw your laptop off the top floor of the FAB building. It’s really important that we remember we belong on our courses and are at university for a reason. Your department and its academics believe in you!
If I won’t remember some seemingly big problem in six months’ time, it isn’t worth as much anxiety as I am putting myself through
Personally, I am a member of the Royal Society of Biology, which means I receive emails about science events in my area and I get four magazines by post every year. The magazines are full of articles about cutting-edge research and exciting new areas. They help to remind me that science is fascinating, and that researchers all over the world started out as we are. Sometimes, I read up on elements of lectures that I find really cool, but this isn’t very regular. I don’t know anyone that does further reading for the content in all of their modules, which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t if you want to, but don’t feel guilty for not. I also try to remind myself that if I won’t remember some seemingly big problem in six months’ time, it isn’t worth as much anxiety as I am putting myself through. As high-achieving students, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be the best in our cohort and get over 70% on every exam, but it isn’t realistic or healthy.
I hope that you can see the overarching message of this article: be easier on yourself. You are allowed to have days off and some grades be lower than you would like. It is better to take breaks than to burn out completely and need more time to recover. I know that I get particularly fed up and tired towards the latter half of terms, but you’ll find that over the holidays, you get bored and wish you were back at uni. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. We have days where we cannot find the motivation to work for love nor money, but the major part is bouncing back.