Getting a balance: Enjoying Warwick whilst preparing for beyond
I’m in the second year of my four-year degree (assuming my year abroad goes to plan). That is not quite halfway, so I’ve got a lot of time left. But on the other hand, well, I’m nearly halfway, so I feel like I’ve got no time at all.
I’ve always tended to focus on what’s ahead. At A-Level, it used to be where I was applying to go to university or what degree I would do. Now, it’s which assignment is around the corner or which institution I’m applying to for post-grad. And I think that this is a helpful (and probably quite common) way to be. But it is only helpful sometimes.
I find that knowing what I’m aiming for – and what I need to do to get there – helps in a multitude of ways. It keeps me focused, motivated and grounded – because I know where I’m headed. But it also comes with its own problems. Being constantly focused on the next steps means that you forget to enjoy and make the most out of what’s going on around you. Because not very long ago, being at Warwick was the ‘next step’. It’s easy to get lost in ambition and future plans and forget to fully experience the present.
I wanted to make sure that this year, in 2022, I at least try to find the balance – because if the last two years have shown us anything, it’s that as much as we can plan and plan and plan, pretty much anything could happen. In fact, the irony is that right before I planned to post this blog, I tested positive for Covid – which means that, as much as I had planned for this next week, I am now spending it in isolation.
So, striking a balance between focusing on the now and preparing for the future is important, but difficult. I’ve made a couple of small changes this year to try to find a better balance, and I hope they could help you too.
The most challenging (yet most influential) change I’ve tried to make is to say no to more. I’m being much stricter with which extras I’m taking on this year, to make sure firstly that I don’t burn out, and secondly that I have time to truly enjoy the extras that I’m already committed to. I’ve found that it can be really helpful to talk to your lecturers about the extra-curriculars that you are taking on, to get an outside (and more experienced) perspective. As far as I’ve seen, lecturers are always more than happy to pass on their advice.
I’ve also been actively aiming to engage my degree in ways that aren’t solely for the purpose of getting where I want to be or adding to the CV, but because I’m genuinely passionate about it. A good example for me this year is that I’m part of a reading group for a particular field in Linguistics. I wanted to join this group purely because I love talking about sociophonetics and want to learn more about it. I think that it’s good to be reminded every now and then why you chose to study your degree – which, for me, is ultimately because I think Linguistics is awesome.
And of course, another thing to remember is that Warwick isn’t all about the degree. It’s about having different experiences and meeting new people and learning about a new place. If you spend your whole degree focusing only on where you’re headed academically, there’s a chance that you’ll miss some other chances to learn new things. It’s absolutely not easy working out how to prepare for the future whilst making the most of the now, but it’s certainly worth all the effort of trying.