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36th issue by NSYSU on October 2013

大家好(Hello everyone)! My name is Siul Urbina, I come from Nicaragua and I have been living in Taiwan for a year. I study International Master Program in Information Systems and Applications in National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) in Hsinchu which is an excellent location since there is a science and industrial park in the city with several worldwide recognized companies related to information technologies field. I have had the opportunity to learn more about some of these prestigious companies, their researches and how they work because some of them have come to the university to do presentations. I also could visit through one of my courses an Information Security Company in Taipei.

As a student coping with the pressure from schoolwork is very normal. There are easy days and there are others that seems like all schoolwork was assigned for the same day. I think that organizing time, properly using the resources that the university provides for studying and also taking some breaks when needed helps to handle the pressure.

NTHU has an e-learning system that provides several tools very useful for students. You can see your schedule with the schoolwork that has to be submitted in a specific day, most of these works can be handed in to professors through the system and later you can check it and see your grades. Professors also use this system to communicate with students, share teaching materials that can be downloaded and make announcements about their courses, the system automatically send a notification to your e-mail. Other advantage of this is that if you have any doubt you can open a discussion forum where professor and students can participate in it.  I have found this system very useful to organize my time and stay abreast of the activities of each class.

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.

As students, we all face one certain madness. Madness? We face the madness of school work pressure. It is not something that can easily be dealt with. However, there are ways to get past the pressure though it may seem as though there is absolutely no escape. It may take some time to figure what works for you, but some of these tend to work for a great deal of people, myself included.

At times students are overwhelmed with the amount of pressure they have from school work. We constantly have to be looking at how we can solve problems from different angles. Also, we have to work and work at situations to be able to pull the right answer out. If not, then we fail to succeed at our studies. So, at different points in time, we are under major pressure. Therefore, we need a way to. In my case, I would plan ahead and create a time table to help manage my assignments. That in itself is the number one method I use to eliminate the pressure of school work. The time table shows how I will manage my time so I can efficiently use it to get my assignments and studies completed. This always seems to work, but it is not always so. Another way is to stay positive. When you start thinking negatively, the pressure really gets to you and it beats you down to a pulp. Just tell yourself, “I will get through this, and it is very possible.” In addition, to cope with the pressure, you need to complete your assignments BEFORE THE DEADLINE. It puts me at ease knowing that I have nothing to worry about when the time comes.

First of all, I have to say that as life is a process since the moment we get born, so it is education, a big process since we start learning.  All we learn through this path of education is going to be useful one day in our lives.  Since kindergarden through high school we learn all the basic things to define our career. The moment we get to college we experience something new, a big change and the most important thing for a human and a student we learn about self-study.

University is totally different from what we have learned in school. It is in this place in which we define our profession looking forward to the future. So since this article is about schoolwork, I believe that my principles to deal with all this work is based on dedication, passion and self-taught. These three principles are my foundations. I love my career, so far I still don't know too much about it. I admit that I still have a long path of learning, but so far I enjoy my courses. Some of them are really hard, but those are the ones I like the most, those courses in which I work harder and give all my best.

I deal with schoolwork by starting things on time and avoid feeling stress one day before the deadline. I try to be as organized as possible and if I have to work hard because I do not understand a course that is the moment in which I become a self-taught person.

Everyday we deal with pressure and stress: school work, activities, clubs, personal and family relationship issues, etc. It’s all part of life and affects us all in one way or the other. The key to being able to strike a balance between the personal side of life and the academic side is being able to prioritize tasks and manage time efficiently.

 

Schoolwork assignments can range widely between a simple analysis commentary to a midterm research piece all the way to final exams and thesis papers. Although each of these can be very different from each other, they all can be tackled by splitting large sections into smaller more manageable sections. Having smaller chunks of work to work at a time, will make working on it a breeze because mentally we are accomplishing these tasks more easily and before you know it, you’ll be done with the whole assignment.

 

Efficiently managing our time is also key to dealing with schoolwork. Our lives not only involve going to school, but also taking care of family and friends matters as well as basic things such eating and sleeping. Having a premade daily schedule that we stick to permanently should help out immensely as this helps map out the times that during the day we can dedicate to schoolwork, eating, sleeping and other leisure tasks. It reduces the stress of constantly trying to plan what to do at what time and also helps not to overload ourselves with school assignments. With the advances of technology, we can now easily manage our times with electronic calendars on smartphones and online calendars.

“The body shuts down when it has too much to bear; goes its own way quietly inside, waiting for a better time, leaving you numb and half alive.”-Unknown

So before my body reaches that point, I find things to do or see; I am in Taiwan, and compared to my country there are plenty of things to do or places to visit. Not only that, I have friends from various countries and just like me, they also go through the pressure from schoolwork or lab work. In my case, I have pressure from lab work; being a master’s student is not easy, but if I manage my time then there is a chance for me to release some pressure.

So how do I cope with the pressure? Well, if I get stressed during the week, I would simply take a break just to walk around school or go see what my other colleagues are doing. Knowing others have almost the same stress as me, it does kind of make me feel better, because then I know I am not the only one facing that sort of stress. Sometimes a breath of fresh air does good, but in other circumstances, when the day is almost over what I would do is simply head back to my comfy dorm and watch a movie. Watching a variety of movies or series relaxes me, even though it does make me strain my eye a bit, but I still think it does help. On other days of the week, I would gather with my friends to go play badminton which really helps and it serves as exercise (something which I often do). And the good thing about being in the university that I am is that the ocean is close- so all I do is walk a bit and I’m right in front of the vast ocean and that is my second favorite thing that really does relax me.

Being a graduate student is no piece of cake. Between writing essays, preparing presentations, conducting research, and organizing and attending conferences, it can get very busy. All of this running around can be very tiring, and very, very stressful. Because of this, I always try to leave some time out of my chaotic schedule to just relax and have fun.

 

One of the ways I cope with all this pressure from schoolwork is to go out for long walks. While in class, it seems as if I’m always multi-tasking, so I never have time to just concentrate on one thing. Also, city life can be very hectic and noisy, and I can’t even hear my own thoughts! Because of this, during the weekends, I like to get far away from the hustle and bustle of Taipei City. Danshui, with its beautiful scenery, is the perfect place to take long walks and clear my thoughts. I usually like to hike a breathtaking mountain trail; and the path is always very peaceful and quiet. While enjoying nature and breathing fresh air, I get the chance to clear my mind and to organize my thoughts. I finally have the quietness I need to think things through, and after a long walk, I am always more energized.

 

Moreover, I try to exercise at least 4 times a week. It’s no secret that exercise is incredibly beneficial, and because of that, I try to keep it as a very important part of my daily routine. I am a huge Zumba fan, so I always leave time in the late afternoons to workout and have fun at the same time. Exercise also helps me in a very important aspect: I sleep better at night. Whenever I’m stressed, I can’t sleep! I usually find myself waking up 3 or 4 times at night, just thinking about everything I have to do the next day. Exercising has been the perfect solution, and I have kissed all of my sleepless night good-bye.

It is the beginning of a new Academic year and each time students are scared of the idea of having new classes and of course new school environment. Have you ever wondered how those students who always look relax and have their schoolwork done were able to do it? Well I don’t pretend I have the right answer but I can say I have my own way of coping with pressure from schoolwork and I believe it can be useful to many.   I recently had my first class in the graduate Institute of International Human Resource Development in NTNU, and I must say for now I don’t have much schoolwork. But, from the Lecturers’ overview and introduction of the classes I can already tell that in a near future I will have a whole bunch of school work to do. I will share with you the strategies I used to effectively manage to get work done and on time, without too much trouble reducing the pressure of schoolwork and also finding time to do some extracurricular activities. University can be very demanding time for students. Lecturers, class projects, Examinations and extracurricular activities can all contribute to pressure for a student. From schoolwork to social problems, students can sometimes become so overwhelmed that they do not know how to efficiently manage their stressful situations. These tips can help keep university stress at a minimum before it becomes too hard to handle.

     The first step I take is good organization of schoolwork and effective schedule. On my schedule I always prioritize my needs;  when I need to study , What I wish to study ,  when assignment due, and  I give myself new deadlines for finishing my coursework. On this schedule, I always leave enough time for socializing or just doing things I like such as watching movies, cooking and so on. I always make sure I have time to rest. In fact being able to manage your free time is the Key for not succumbing to schoolwork pressure because most of the time students always feel they don’t have enough time to finish and have some schoolwork behind schedule. The truth is they have a poor time management system. Taking time to pause from the relentless pace of everyday schoolwork pressure and enjoy creative activities that keep you from dwelling on or stressing over school pressures can go far in decreasing your pressure of coursework levels. Of course this schedule can be modified according to the present situation.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with everything. Pressure from school is no exception to that. I personally do not find there to be much pressure, however, school is extremely tiring. There is always so much to do in so little time. Whenever I feel exhausted, I enjoy a prolonged nap. Sleep in my opinion is the best way to ease school pressure. It’s as if for a brief moment, school is no longer relevant, and only you matter, and nothing else.
          After a good day of sleep, catching up with friends over a meal and drinks does wonders for relaxation. As the saying goes, Laughter is therapy for the soul. Hanging out at the 7-Eleven either on campus or near the school gate is a student pastime. Sometimes, after hanging out at 7 – Eleven, we may decide to head to the bowling alley in Neipu. Though I am not the best at bowling, it is fun, especially holding the record for most gutter balls. There is also an arcade at the bowling place. I enjoy playing the video games and other virtual games which can be found there. Doesn’t matter how good or bad you are at them as long you’re having fun.
        Reading is another way I relieve pressure from school. Novels, whether fantasy or mystery is very relaxing. It’s a good way to entertain myself. Also, freelance journalism is a favorite of mine. These articles sometimes are completely opposite of what is published by mainstream media. It gives a more broad view of actual events which are unfolding around us today. In addition, freelance or independent newspapers, always link events unlike main stream media which treats each event as totally unrelated to the other.
        Thankfully, the NPUST campus is in a very rural part of Taiwan or Pingtung County rather. Nearby there are a number of rivers and waterfalls which provide the perfect environment for recreation and relaxation simultaneously. Since Pingtung’ weather is very hot, taking a dip in the cool water is refreshing. It is rejuvenating to swim around and feel the water against your body. In addition to swimming, there is plenty of space around to barbeque or have a picnic. The only somewhat of a downside to this is, usually the rivers and waterfalls are in remote locations. Getting there is a bit of a struggle because it is not as easily accessible.

At a university level people have a chance to mature in many ways that will help them through all their entire lives. They make new acquaintances, learn new skills and grow up in plenty of knowledge as well. However, trying to manage a good lifestyle, while pursuing a degree isn't always so easy. It requires self-consciousness, goals and ambitions and a little bit of effort too. In this short essay, I would like to share what I try to do to cope with the schoolwork in my life.

 

I usually like to study or read over something on my own. Not that I don´t like to work as a group, but sometimes group works can turn into something more alike to a party, so I personally prefer reading a book or my notes by myself. However, sometimes I go to ask help to friends when I don´t have the answer, and I believe that is a good strategy that I need to reinforce because it allows me to learn from others.

 

Also, starting homework as soon as possible is a good technique to avoid piling up all the homework to the end of a deadline. When I don´t start the work that is given to me and I keep on putting it off until the deadline, I easily get moody and grumpy because I feel pressure to finish those homework and the time I had is almost gone. So lately I have been trying to start the assignments as quick as I can, and I also try to read the material that is being used in class. This is very good because it can prepare anyone beforehand to any surprise test on classes, and it also helps students to not be reading only one night before the tests period.