The pressures of the student lifestyle, feeling boring and why that’s okay!
Cast your minds back to freshers…parties, drinking, neverending introductions, activities, lots of laughs and a little overwhelming. Freshers was great in my first year of university but I definitely wouldn’t want to do it all over again. Well, moving to a new university as an international student felt a bit like groundhog day at times. I was thrown back into that world of group activities, nights out and hangovers left right and centre.
The pressure of being a student? Surely not a real thing!
I went along with it at first because I was excited to be in a new place with new people and wanted to basically just do what everyone else was doing; but there came a moment when I realised that I’d done this all before and doing it all over again just wasn’t what I wanted to be doing at all. Don’t get me wrong nights out with friends are great and exactly what you need every now and again but such a thing of the pressure to ‘be a student’ definitely exists.
Everyone has different comfort zones.
This is a huge point for me. As someone with often quite high functioning social anxiety I really really really have to push myself to do certain things. This is the main reason that I found and continue to find the first few weeks of the semester so incredibly exhausting. There’s nothing that sounds less appealing to me than being in a cramped room with lots of people I barely know and a lot of alcohol. I was COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone for a long while and it made everything around me feel alien. I’m a big believer in pushing yourself and not letting the panic or anxiety within you stop you from doing things so I did go to a lot of things that I normally wouldn’t. But there came a point where I needed some time out and to just get in my comfy zone again for a breather. There’s no shame in that whatsoever. Getting out of your comfort zone is just as important as allowing yourself time inside it too.
I think a huge part of this is probably my motivation for coming here. I didn’t come here to help me decide what I want to do after my degree and so subsequently tactically add a semester in, I didn’t come here to travel to a different part of Europe every weekend and I didn’t come here to drink and party either. There’s literally no wrong motivation for doing a semester abroad but there are definitely different motivations. My motivation? To study a course relating to the master’s area I want to go into and to continue working for myself. Of course, I wanted to also experience life in a different country and have lots of adventures and fun but they were more hopes than motivations in going to the Netherlands in the first place.
One month in!
Now I’m about a month into my exchange semester and I’m exhausted by feeling boring a lot of the time, saying ‘sorry I can’t’ is getting predictable and I’m sure some people probably think It’s about time I lightened up. But the truth is I’m happy doing what I’m doing, I’m trying to balance everything in moderation and have started to care a lot less about the things that I’m not doing!
Why it’s absolutely okay to be the mum of the group…
I know I can have fun, let my hair down and enjoy myself but I also know what I definitely can’t be arsed doing! I had so much freedom working full-time and I think that’s resulted in me wanting to be a little more independent every now and again and not always want to be on the ESN bus trips.
There’s no right or wrong way to do an exchange semester and everyone should do whatever makes them happy but I think it’s really important to say that being the ‘boring one’ or quite simply just having different motivations or priorities is completely fine and actually something to be respected. Don’t feel the pressure to do things that don’t make you excited, be yourself and people will either take it or leave it…go out with the ones that take it. ❤️