If you have items that you would like to donate to future cohorts there will be boxes in the Urbanest lobby on Friday, May 23 for this purpose. Please consider donating any hairdryers, hair straighteners, clothing, extra bedding, condiments, soap, shampoo, non-perishable food and stationary. Clothing and bedding will be donated to a local charity and the other items will be kept at Urbanest for future cohorts. The boxes will be clearly labelled and specific information about their location will be provided next week.
Make the most of this weekend
As you are approaching your last weekend in Sydney I’d like you to ask yourselves some questions. Did I do everything I wanted to do? Did I take enough photos? Did I visit those places around Sydney I said I would? Did I spend enough time with that new friend?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no” then please use this weekend wisely. I’m certainly not encouraging any of you to disregard your academic commitments but I do encourage you to make the most of your time here. Hang out at your favourite café, take pics with your friends, go for a jog by the harbour, stop by a museum or say good bye to your favourite beach.
Reflecting on your Experience
These next 10 days might feel like a whirlwind. With papers, exams, packing and saying goodbye to friends it might seem like there is time for little else. With everything that is going on I still encourage you to take some time to reflect on the experience. Think not only about the Australian culture, but think about how you view your own culture having lived on the other side of the world. Think about how much you appreciate aspects of the USA and also think about how much you now appreciate another part of the world. I also challenge you to think about how this experience has changed you as a person. Not just your worldview, but how the challenges of this experience have prepared you for the future.
Studying abroad is not just about visiting an unfamiliar place, meeting some new people or taking some cool pics, it’s a powerful transformative experience. By immersing yourself in another culture you develop a new appreciation for the world and the perspective of others. You also develop life skills you will carry with you forever. When a person studies in an unfamiliar place they start from scratch. Without the comforts of old friends, family or familiar customs a student is forced to find their own way. They must immerse themselves in a new environment, develop coping strategies, make new friends and navigate their way around a new city. The challenges associated with studying abroad are what makes the experience so powerful.
Each of you arrived not knowing what to expect. You made new friends, learned new things, and found a way to succeed when things got tough. You had difficult conversations, budgeted and saved, problem solved and adapted to living with five other people. Undoubtedly there were times when you might have felt lonely or even questioned your decision to come to Sydney, but you found a way to manage those feelings and make the most of your experience. Over the next few weeks as you reflect on your time in Sydney think about how far you’ve come. Think about the friends you’ve made, the new experiences, and most importantly think about how you were able to move to the other side of the world and succeed!
More tips for finals
Finals can be a stressful time for any college student and this time of year can be particularly trying for students studying abroad. In addition to finals you also have to contend with packing and saying goodbye to friends and a place you’ve called home for a semester. These extra responsibilities can sometimes send your stress levels soaring. If you are starting to feel anxious about the next week please give thought to employing some of the suggestions below. Some of these tips might overlap with some of my recommendations from previous weeks, but that is okay because I think you’ll find them useful.
Treat your body right – Eat good food, stay hydrated, exercise and get enough rest. In order for your brain to function at its best you should try and do all of these things. There is a mountain of research out there about how much rest your brain needs to retain information. Cramming all night can actually decrease your memory so try to get your 8 hours. Our bodies need healthy foods for energy and our brains will benefit from the plethora of hormones released during exercise. Treat your body right and your brain will be operating at its best.
Create a study schedule – I mentioned it last week and I’m mentioning it again. Make a schedule and stick to it. Make a calendar and mark the dates of exams and the due dates of papers. From there you can prioritize what needs to be done and when. A little work in the beginning makes life a lot easier later.
Study Day at Science House – Join us at Science House for a study day. Relax with a massage, study with friends or find a quiet place to get some work done.
Talk to your instructor – Your instructors are there to help you and they want you to succeed. If you don’t understand something, or if you are unsure about your paper reach out to your instructor.
Study with a group – Studying in a group is not for everybody, but it is worth considering. If procrastination is a problem for you the schedule associated with group meetings can help to keep you on task. The variety of perspectives and the qualities each individual brings to the group are beneficial. Group support can limit test anxiety and the company of friends can take the monotony out of study.
Avoid Caffeine, tea, energy drinks – this one could probably fit within the treat your body right category but it is important so it has its own paragraph. Caffeine and energy drinks can disrupt your sleep patterns. Even though the initial boost might seem worthwhile the disruption to your sleep makes these kinds of drinks a bad idea around finals. Focus on staying hydrated but avoid the coffee.
Use relaxation techniques – Try breathing exercises or try listening to a guided meditation program on Youtube. Breathing exercises are simple and surprisingly helpful. Google search for coherent breathing, deep breathing or resistance breathing techniques.
Enlist the help of others – If at any time you feel overwhelmed or if you would like to speak with a professional the Wellness Exchange hotline is a great option. From Australia just dial 1 800 047 973
Staying in Urbanest after May 23
If your flight is booked later than May 23 and you would like to stay longer in Urbanest please contact me as soon as possible. The staff at Urbanest are making arrangements for students that need to stay after May 23.
If you are staying later than May 23 you might be required to move to a different suite. The process for the payment of additional days has not been finalized yet. I will correspond directly with all students interested in extending their stay when I know more.
Farewell Lunch – Wednesday May 21
Next week’s farewell lunch is being held at the Swissotel located at 68 Market Street, just near the QVB and next to the Myer department store. Please plan to arrive at 12:30pm. If you have an exam on Wednesday morning please make your way to the Swissotel afterwards. Don’t worry, we won’t start without you.
Please bring your Science House access cards to the lunch. Sarah will collect them.