Coming to Taiwan to study a program one of the challenges is not just adapting to a new environment, new culture, new people and new language but also and most importantly (being a ICDF scholarship holder) is adapting to school. When you are in a new country, especially one so different from your own you want to explore as much as you can and “eat” your new world in one bit. However, to stay focus and to find a balance between both it is imperative to be organized. Stress and anxiety can be a daily struggle that can prevent one to enjoy this amazing experience as much as possible. So, remembering wise words a former college professor once gave me, I try to abide by some tips to survive the pressure from schoolwork.

  1. Baby steps

Sometimes (especially during finals and midterms) school load is very big, and there are so many things to do, so many deadlines to meet and of course you want to do it the best you can. So, to not be so overwhelmed by everything I take baby steps, focus on one subject at the time, sometimes depending on how time consuming it is, how complicated it is or simply by using the first come first serve rule. I find it that making a to do list and ranking it by most-least important or most-least urgent and marking it, chunking down things make it more manageable and thus reduces my anxiety and makes me feel more in control. Taking things one day at a time is much more easier that looking just at the big picture of countless assignments and letting it overwhelm you.

  1. Avoiding procrastination

I know! Easier said than done. This one is particularly hard for me because I tend to get easily distracted and when you have important things to do, study for tests, projects to turn in, EVERYTHING in sights seems more interesting. However, more often than not procrastination brings unhealthy amounts of stress to me so I try to get assignments started before hand to be able to deal with stress before it comes. A very useful thing that has helped me is downloading a Chrome extension named StayFocusd (download here) it limits the amount of time that I spend on time-wasting websites (such as Facebook), helps me blocks some sites entirely for x amount of time, so it forces me to really work.

  1. Finding a balance

Usually when a new semester starts it just feels that it’ll never end and as new assignments start emerging it is very hard to lose perspective of stuff that are as important as being focus on school work, having fun. So, a very important thing for me is to find a balance between work and play. Usually a small escape from the daily routine of studies will do the trick, doing things I really enjoy makes me disconnect, lets me put things in perspective and most of the time makes my work more efficient. The things I do the most is going out for a nice dinner, a movie, spending quality time with friends, reading a good book, going for a walk/run.

At the end of the day, after finishing my program I know the things I am going to remember the most are not how many hours I spent on the library studying for a particular test/assignment or how hard it was to understand certain unknown concepts; the things I will remember the most is the things I learned and the people I met, how I spent time with them and all the wonderful things Taiwan has to offer. So, above all it is imperative for me to remember to have fun, not to let the small things get to me and most importantly to live the moment and enjoy this amazing experience.