Author Archive | Jan N.

Three Ways To Travel Cheaply and Easily

Image by Miquel González Page, Flickr

Image by Miquel González Page, Flickr

Bonjour! I am currently spending the semester studying abroad in Paris, France. Four months in, and it is undoubtedly one of the best experiences I have ever had. If you go on exchange, you probably want to travel as well but don’t want to break the bank. So, here are a few tips to travel cheaply and easily:

Act Fast!

Some people say the best time to book a plane ticket is on the weekend. Others say the best time to book is on a Tuesday. The truth is, the best time to book is as soon as possible! My favourite website is Skyscanner. They include flights from big to budget airlines, always resulting in the best deals. Since the website simply redirects you to the actual airline’s website, there’s no chance that you’re being scammed.

There are awesome features you should look into. First, check out the “Map” option, which allows you to choose a destination and then see a graph of the different prices on different days. The other option is the “Everywhere” destination. Instead of typing in an actual city, simply type in “Everywhere” and Skyscanner will show you the cheapest destinations based on your desired dates.

Hotels or Hostels?

Hotels are always going to be the best option in terms of your peace of mind. Since you don’t have to share the room with strangers and your room is going to be stocked with amenities, there’s no need to worry about a lot of things in hotels. If you stay at a hostel, you’ll need to remember to bring a lot of things such as sandals to shower with, a towel, some soap and a lock for your bags. However, what hostels may lack in safety, cleanliness and amenities, they make up for in character and price. Hostels have a great vibe where you can meet fellow travellers or grab a cheap beer if they have a bar – and don’t forget about the huge savings!

Sacrifices Need to be Made

That 7AM flight to your next destination is $15 cheaper than the one that leaves at 11AM, which means you arrive at your destination earlier and you save money, right? Wrong! Well, you do arrive at your destination earlier, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll save money. You have to keep in mind that you need to somehow get to the airport well before 7AM. A lot of public transportation won’t run that early, so you may end up paying crazy prices for a cab first thing in the morning.

The same kind of situation can occur when you buy a ticket from a budget airline or train that doesn’t land at the city’s main airport or train station. These other airports and train stations are often far from the city centre. Although you save money getting near the city, you still need to find a way to get into the city.

Another example is when you choose where you want to stay. You may save money by staying at a hostel just outside of the city, but getting to and from your hostel can be a pain. It is even worse if you miss the last train or bus back to your hostel!

All in all, budget travelling requires a lot of research and planning. However, if you’re really desperate to get out, do look into last minute deals, especially with trains that want to sell extra seats. Just remember to relax and have a great time!

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Guide to Studying Abroad: Packing and Everything Else

Image from Jan Natividad

Image from Jan Natividad

Bonjour! I am currently spending the semester studying abroad in Paris, France. Two months in, and it is undoubtedly one of the best experiences I have ever had. As much fun as I may be having right now, the process of getting to this point was very long and complicated. Here is some advice for avoiding the stress of pre-departure. Although some of these tips are specific to Paris, you can use them for practically any exchange location!

Packing

Tip 1: You don’t need to pack everything that you own, but don’t forget to pack essentials that you take for granted. I am having a difficult time finding baking soda here in Paris and a friend of mind couldn’t find any heat protection hair spray! Although you probably won’t find out if you can buy a product locally or not until you actually arrive, be sure to pack favourite hygiene products, food and anything else that you absolutely cannot live without. In some cases, they may sell what you need, but not in the brand that you prefer.

Tip 2: Don’t be afraid of the $100 extra baggage fee on an airplane. The contents of your extra bag are probably worth more than the $100 fee. This also gives you extra space for any souvenirs and gifts that you plan on bringing back home. Remember that things in France are in euros, meaning it is probably going to be significantly more expensive for your favourite shampoo or cereal in France than it is in Canada, so do the math! The only problem you may encounter with this is lugging it from the airport to your new apartment by yourself.

Tip 3: You should also remember to pack both regular sized and travel-sized hygiene products. If you plan on travelling while on exchange, $1 mini toothpaste from your local drugstore is a lot cheaper than buying €1 mini toothpaste in France.

Paris Tip: Parisian street fashion is very stylish but monochromatic. So, when packing clothes, you may want to skip your neon-green top. This may sound silly, but a decent sense of fashion is a matter of self-preservation! Aggressive beggars and pickpockets are less likely to attack you if you don’t have that neon-green “tourist” target on your back.

Everything Else

Tip 1: Don’t worry too much about banking, meeting new people, public transportation, cellphone plans and most other things. The international team at your host school will cover a lot of this during orientation week. Just remember to bring necessary documents, photocopies of IDs and an unlocked cellphone so that everything else will go by a lot smoother.

Tip 2: Remember to have fun! School is important, but don’t spend your whole day inside school or inside your apartment. If you’re not exploring your new environment and soaking all the culture in, you’re more susceptible to getting really home sick. Your new place – as great or as dingy as it may be – will be your new home for the next couple of months. Try to find the positive aspects of your new place such as a really cool nearby bar or your kind neighbour.

Guide to Studying Abroad: Visas and Housing

Image from Jan Natividad

Image by Jan Natividad

Bonjour! I am currently spending the semester studying abroad in Paris, France. Two months in, and it is undoubtedly one of the best experiences I have ever had. As much fun as I may be having right now, the process of getting to this point was very long and complicated. Here is some advice for avoiding the stress of pre-departure. Although some of these tips are specific to Paris, you can use them for practically any exchange location!

Visa Application

Tip 1: I don’t want to bore you with all of the technical information because everything is all laid out very clearly on the French consulate’s website. Just make sure you are getting the visa that best suits your needs. Most students will get the basic student visa that will allow them to become temporary residents for a specific period of time. There is another visa that allow students to work and get paid as well as receive a housing subsidy from the French government. They are two different visas with different requirements, so check carefully.

Tip 2: The process of getting your visa is extremely fast and simple. The process of getting all of your documents for your visa can be a nightmare. Do not leave this to the last minute! Make sure you read over the visa requirements and get the necessary documents as soon as possible.

Housing

Tip 1: If you want a (relatively) hassle free way of finding a place to stay, just stay in the student residence that your host school offers. If the residence isn’t that great in terms of price, location, amenities, etc. you can find places to stay online. Websites like airbnb.com and lodgis.com are great because they’re catered specifically to foreigners. Fully furnished and cheap places are hard to come by and so are highly competitive. Search for places early and book as soon as you find one. Just be careful of any scams!

Tip 2: Make sure you research the neighbourhood of your potential new place very well. It may be cheap, but it’s not going to be worth it if it’s in a bad area. If you know the address, search it up on Google Maps and use the street view function to explore the neighbourhood. Look for nearby laundromats, grocery stores, metro stations, bus stops and restaurants.

Paris Tip: If you’re going to Paris and want to live in the “typical” Parisian apartment (the ones with a beige façade and on top of a boulangerie), you’re probably thinking of an apartment in a Haussmann building. Although not all of them are atop a bakery, they are everywhere in Paris. Just note that they can be expensive, especially considering the fact that a lot of them are very old. Some don’t have elevators and others don’t have toilets inside the rooms! The toilet may be outside of the room and shared with neighbours on the same floor.

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

Image by Nicola, Flickr

Image by Nicola, Flickr

Whether you’re asked this question in the middle of an interview for your dream job or by some very prying relatives, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is quite difficult to answer. Granted, some of you may know exactly how to respond, but several of you are probably stumped. If you had asked me this question before my first year of university, I would have said something along the lines of “After graduating university with high marks in all of my accounting classes, I’ll be working towards earning my Chartered Accountant (CA) designation in one of the top accounting firms downtown.” If you ask me this question now, you’re going to get a response that’s less specific and more conceptual. Compared to the old answer, the new one may sound like a big “I’m not sure.” However, it’s actually a much stronger and more suitable response.

As a student of a highly esteemed business school, several of my classmates seem to know exactly where they’re headed in life. I see peers who are moving so quickly with their careers – networking with industry leaders, making the right connections and, most importantly, landing internships that undoubtedly lead to full-time employment. I used to be one of these people.

I landed my first accounting internship even before I graduated from high school. For this company, I worked on several different projects that ranged from doing research on potential clients to doing advanced Excel work. At the same time, I did some bookkeeping for a small car dealership a few times a week. The work definitely taught me a lot and I’m thankful for those experiences, but I couldn’t help but feel unfulfilled without any indication as to why. After a month, I decided to move on from this position, hoping to find something else. It was the best decision for me at the time and I don’t regret it.

Then, my first year of university came around. Refusing to be fazed by a not-so-pleasant experience, I went ahead with my decision to pursue accounting. I attended almost all of the accounting networking events hosted by my school’s career centre and accounting club, did extensive research on which courses I needed to take in order to get my CA designation and even went so far as to plan my third and fourth year so that I get my designation as quickly as possible.

However, things changed when I took my first accounting class. From all of my excitement over a future career in auditing and adding “CA” after my name, I didn’t really stop to think about what accounting actually was. Since I was in a special program in high school, the only accounting class I ever took was an online course that taught more bookkeeping than actual accounting. In contrast, my university accounting class taught me that accounting is more than just bookkeeping and looking at numbers on a page. Don’t get me wrong, I was doing well in the class, but I wasn’t enjoying it. Halfway through the term, I had a sudden realization. I couldn’t see myself doing accounting for the rest of my life. In five years, I couldn’t see myself working as a Staff Accountant in one of the top accounting firms and my business card wasn’t going read “Jan N., CA.” I finally understood why I had my reservations about my first internship. For once in my life, I didn’t know what I saw myself doing five years down the road. My career path had hit the wall.

Now, if you’ve ever been through this “career limbo,” you can’t help but feel lost. When you don’t know what you’re passionate about, it affects everything: including your attitude towards your schoolwork and your extra-curricular activities. During that period, I spent most of my time frantically searching for other career paths; desperately trying to recreate and rebuild my five-year vision.

Fortunately, after some time, I had another realization. Some of the greatest leaders of our time didn’t know what they would be doing in five years. They weren’t caught up in trying to achieve some concrete plan. Instead, they focused on solving problems and succeeding by constantly improving their selves. Consequently, I realized that I was approaching the question in the wrong way. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” isn’t meant to yield responses that must be obeyed and followed; it’s meant to motivate and serve as a constant reminder of one’s goal.

After taking a long, deep breath, I realized that my previous five-year vision was bland and uninspired. It didn’t allow for any sort of growth and limited me to a goal that thousands of students already have. I needed to open my career path to possible detours and bumps along the road. For example, after speaking to a professor about a certain business field, he told me that graduate school would be necessary – a path that I didn’t even consider until speaking with him. No one’s career path is ever linear; there are going to be curves, ups, downs and loop-the-loops. You just need one strong and clear vision that you will work towards every day, but has ample room for adjustments and improvements every so often.

Now is your turn to answer this question. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Writing a Stellar Supplementary Application Essay

Image by Oran Viriyincy, Flickr

Image by Oran Viriyincy, Flickr

You may have applied to your program, but you aren’t finished with your application just yet – for many university programs, you’ll need to submit a supplementary application. Don’t take these lightly. Several schools will give equal weighting to grades and supplementary apps. So, even if you have stellar grades, a poor supplementary application can cost you. Depending on the program you’re applying to, the supplementary application can take many forms, from a few short essay questions, to a list of your extra-curricular involvement, to submitting recommendation letters or even an art portfolio. This is your time to shine, and for those of you who may not have received great marks in high school, a well-written supplementary essay can help you rise above the rest.

Brainstorming

  • Do some research on the school and program you are applying to. This will help you answer questions and show admissions that you are passionate about attending their school.
  • Start your supplementary application as soon as you can. Before you know it, your schoolwork will start to pile up, and the last thing you want to do is completely forget about your supplementary application.
  • Make a list of all of your extra-curricular activities, awards, certificates and skills that you feel would be useful to describe in your essays.

Writing

  • Be creative! Create a story with your essay. Essays don’t need to follow the traditional formula of an introduction, body and conclusion. Especially with the “creative” essay question, admissions officers want to see fresh ideas and thought processes.
  • Remember your audience. The admissions officer isn’t looking for Pulitzer-prize winning work and they definitely don’t want to see essays that grossly abuse the “Synonyms” tool. They read plenty of essays. You need to clinch them within the first few sentences and that means giving a clear and concise, yet inventive, opening.
  • Always bring it back to the school/program you are applying to. Explain what the school has to offer you and what you can offer to the school. Show them how you are a perfect fit.
  • Make sure you are answering the right question. Although the questions are left fairly open-ended, be sure to answer the question asked, not the question you want.
  • Back it up! You say you have leadership experience, communication skills and high attention to detail, but what evidence do you have? Explain how you exhibit these traits through your extra-curricular involvement.
  • Quality over quantity. You may have been very involved in high school, but some of your activities are definitely more impactful than others. Focus on how your involvement in an event positively affected others.
  • Like a resume, stick to your most recent and relevant activities. There is no need to include your involvement in the fifth grade.

Editing

  • Nothing signals a poor student more than simple spelling or grammar mistakes. Be sure to proofread plenty of times!
  • Get help with proofreading by asking others to look over your essay.
  • Follow the rules! If it says they want an essay under 250 words, make sure it is under 250 words.
  • Spend plenty of time on each supplementary application. Don’t make one generic application that you think you can send to all of your prospective schools. Admissions officers have read brilliant essays, where, unfortunately, the wrong school was mentioned! Don’t let that happen to you.

Hopefully these tips have helped you and will bring you closer to that coveted acceptance letter!

What to Do When You Miss a Day of School

Image by Shaylor, Flickr

Image by Shaylor, Flickr

Being in school is like working a full time job; in order to succeed, you need to put several hours into your work. However, like a full time job, you may need to take a sick or personal day. Most students will miss at least one day of school every year for different reasons – some valid and some, well, not so valid. For every lecture and tutorial you miss, your professor will have gone through a lot of information. Here are some tips on how you can recover after missing a day of school:
 
What to do:

  • If possible, let your professor or TA know you’re going to be absent at least one day in advance. This is necessary for any classes where attendance counts toward your grades. A professor will usually only excuse you for academic reasons, so avoid playing hooky just so you can attend a concert or sleep in.
  • Ask a friend in your class for help catching up. Find out what topics were covered and if the professor revealed any news or updates. If your friend is willing to share notes, ask for them as well. It’s always a good idea to exchange contact information with a person in your class at the beginning of the year so you have a buddy to help you out in these circumstances.
  • Sit in on another lecture. If your professor teaches the same course on a different day when you don’t have class, consider attending that lecture.
  • If you are extremely sick, you would be better off missing your classes for a day. Your classmates will appreciate that you aren’t spreading germs, and being sick will only hinder your ability to retain information. Take the day off for some much needed rest, but find ways to avoid this issue in the future. This means taking better care of your health so you get sick less often, and spreading out your workload so you don’t get overwhelmed.
  • Plan ahead. If you have a commitment that will cause you to miss a day of school, plan your whole week accordingly so that you have more time to catch up on the classes you missed.

What NOT to do:

  • Never miss school for avoidable reasons. Parties and social events can wait. Don’t take shifts at work at the same time as one of your classes. It is recommended that you only miss school for unavoidable and important reasons. You never know what you might miss.
  • Try not to make it a habit. Missing a couple days of school is bound to happen, but missing a week or more should not. Find a balance between your extracurriculars, part-time work, social activities, and classes so that they do not overlap.
  • Never miss school on days you have an assessment. Your professor will give you a syllabus at the beginning of the year detailing when you will have quizzes and tests as well as when you will have assignments due. If you miss a day of school, the excuse “I didn’t know” will not work. If you miss an important class, notify your professor as soon as you can and work out how you can make up for your missed assessment.
  • It is not the responsibility of your professor, TA, classmates, or friends to reteach course content you missed. Try to understand the content through the readings and other resources before reaching out to others for help. Your professor will not appreciate or entertain requests to go through an entire lecture just for one student, so formulate a short list of questions you may have instead.
  • Don’t stress out too much because you missed a day of school. Do all you can to catch up and understand the content you missed, and you should be fine. Don’t let the thought of missing a day prevent you from doing well in the class.

Doing Freelance Work to Pay for School

Image by Victor1558, Flickr

Image by Victor1558, Flickr

As a university student, part-time jobs that work with your schedule come few and far between. With the increasing costs of receiving an education, should you sacrifice your study time just to earn some extra pocket money? Thankfully, students with in-demand skills don’t have to settle for the typical minimum wage job. The world of freelancing is open to young, savvy students looking to gain some work experience, while earning an extra buck or two. Here are a few things you need to know before diving into freelancing:

Benefits of Freelancing

  • Better salary. You set up how much you want to get paid per hour. Since it is for a specialized skill that not many can offer, you usually earn more than minimum wage. The price is affected by your experience and the demand for your field of work. As a student starting off, you won’t be able to charge as much as the seasoned pros, but more experience and projects under your belt will allow you to start charging more.
  • Be your own boss. Everyone has had their fair share of bad bosses. With freelance work, you are your own boss. You can specially design your work schedule to fit with your academic and social schedule. You can even save on transportation costs because you can work from your bed!
  • Helps your resume stand out. Even if your desired career doesn’t involve developing apps or writing articles, you’re creating connections and learning valuable soft skills. Employers appreciate applicants that display entrepreneurial spirit and have technical skills that stretch beyond the job requirements.

What it Takes to Be a Freelancer

  • Be knowledgeable in an in-demand skill. Unfortunately, not everyone can be a freelancer. A prerequisite to becoming a freelancer is to have a skill that others would hire you to perform. This can be graphic design, web design, photography, video production and editing, journalism, translation, or administrative work (to scratch the surface!). Whether you’re a master or a self-taught amateur, you can always find opportunities.
  • Self-motivation and time management. Without a boss hounding you to get work done, it can be difficult getting yourself motivated to finish a job. Even if you’re exhausted from schoolwork, you need to find time to work on your latest project. Never take on more work than you can handle! Always submit high quality work so that your client will recommend you or even hire you for future projects.
  • Patience and persistence. Especially as a student, finding freelance work can be difficult. It’s not always going to be a reliable source of income. You have to remain patient and be persistent in marketing yourself and finding work.
  • The right mindset. Don’t be fooled into thinking being a freelancer is easy. A lot of work is involved in trying to meet deadlines and client needs. A huge focus on quality has to be taken. Money isn’t going to come right away either. Like any other business, you will need to build capital – buying better equipment, programs and other necessary tools.

Where to Find Work

  • Personal website. Build a website that you can post all of your previous work on. There are plenty of websites such as WordPress and Blogger that will allow you to easily and quickly build your own website for free. If you’re just starting off and don’t have any existing work, include projects you’ve done in school or anything you’ve done in your spare time.
  • Websites for freelancers. There are plenty of websites out there designed for freelancers looking for jobs and clients looking for freelancers. Some websites include oDesk, Elance, StudentFreelance and even Craigslist!
  • School. University is full of innovative students looking for help on their personal projects. Someone might be starting a company and need a web designer or creating a student film and needs editors – all you need to do is look around! Put an ad up on the student bulletin and ask around to see if anyone is starting on a project who may need your skills.
  • Cold calling. This may be a daunting task, but you never know which companies and organizations may need your help. Calling charities and asking them if you can do some pro bono work for them is a good start. You might not get paid, but it will help you gain experience and possibly build on your portfolio. If you do a good enough job, you might even be asked to work with them for future projects where you can get paid.

Where to Find Help

Are you convinced that freelancing is right for you, or do you still need more persuasion? Check out Save the Graduate and Students That Freelance for more on the wonderful world of freelancing.

The Pros and Cons of Taking a Gap Year

Image by wiredcanvas, Flickr

Image by wiredcanvas, Flickr

After high school, students typically choose one of two paths: school or work. However, a third option exists that very few even consider: taking a gap year. It may not be the norm in North America, but gap years are quite common and highly recommended in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Just like attending university or being in the workplace, taking a gap year is not right for everybody. It takes a lot of research and several factors should be considered before deciding on the next step.

Pros:

  • It’s a chance to regroup and rediscover. After being in school for several years, you can feel burnt out. Going to university while you aren’t in top shape mentally will only lead to poor performance. Use the time to get some well deserved rest and relaxation. Especially if you feel out of touch from yourself and the rest of the world, a gap year will only do you good as you reflect on your future goals and aspirations, as well as spend some much needed time with family and friends.
  • Most students take their year off to travel. Whether you’re backpacking through Europe or meditating in an ashram in India, you’ll revel in your newfound respect for different cultures, customs, beliefs and languages. You will end your gap year with several stories and memories that will last a lifetime.
  • Some students also take the opportunity to work. The money saved up from working is put towards future endeavours and purchases such as a home, a car or an education. Others work to gain an edge in an overly competitive career market. By taking internships or job opportunities related to their career path, they gain valuable experience and a chance to network with industry experts that will help their resumes shine.
  • It’s also a time to pursue other passions. You might want the time to write your Oscar-winning screenplay or create a start-up company in your garage. You might even discover that you want to pursue a different career path.
  • It’s a chance to get involved in something you really believe in. Release the humanitarian inside you and volunteer locally, nationally or internationally. Volunteer opportunities abroad can be done with Cuso International or the Peace Corps.

Cons:

  • You can easily lose momentum. Skills you had, such as essay writing, and knowledge you learned through your courses may be forgotten, making the transition back to school difficult.
  • If you choose to travel, taking a gap year can take a huge financial toll. If you are unsure of the risk, ask yourself, “Is this a wise investment for myself or just a really expensive vacation?”
  • It may be important to start early in your career. If you choose to go into a field that requires years of experience in order to succeed, being a year behind may not be the best option.
  • You’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Wanting to attend countless parties is not a valid reason to take a gap year. Taking a gap year because you were rejected from your top school choice is not a good reason either – it will only make you feel worse. Above all, it can set you careening off of your career path. It’s best to look into the schools you were accepted to. You never know; you may end up loving your new school. If you don’t, you can always put in transfer applications.
  • To truly make your experience worthwhile, a lot of planning is involved. This means looking at travel plans, accommodations and work/volunteer opportunities. You should also be weighing your options; looking at the costs and benefits of taking a year off as opposed to going to school. For help with planning your overseas expedition, there are resources in the library or online such as Real Gap Experience, gapyear.com and i-to-i.
  • If you’ve decided on what you want to do, there may still be one more obstacle in your way: your parents. If unaware of the benefits of a gap year, they may disapprove and discourage you from taking a year off. They may also believe that taking a gap year will lead you to discontinuing your studies altogether. If this is the case, educate your parents on the benefits of taking a gap year and show them your plans to use it wisely and productively.

Finding Help When Struggling in Class

Image by Ohfoohy, Flickr

Image by Ohfoohy, Flickr

With the volume and speed at which information is given to you during university, you can often times feel completely lost. No matter how many times you look over your textbook or your notes, a concept just doesn’t seem to stick. Instead of ignoring it and hoping that it doesn’t appear on your exam, it’s time for you to ask for help. There are plenty of people and resources out there that can help. When you want to ace that course, think about starting here:

Online Resources

If you can’t follow what your prof is saying during the lecture, being taught the material from a different angle may be just what you need to succeed. With the ability to pause, rewind, and fast forward videos and podcasts, those who like learning things slowly have the opportunity to really let the information sink in. Try these:

Professors and TAs

They’re the ones who teach the course and give out the assignments and exams, so it only makes sense to contact them for help. This does not mean bombarding them the night before an assignment is due to answer all of your questions; it means attending office hours and going to every tutorial. You don’t want your prof to think of you as “the procrastinator” and they definitely won’t appreciate staying up late to answer questions you should have asked several days ago.

Students Who Have Taken the Course

Getting help from a student who has taken the course with the same prof may be the best place to get help. Sometimes, they can even be more helpful than a prof or a TA. A student who has been through the experience will know tips and tricks to understand course content and how to do well in the exam. There might be certain things these students picked up on that the professor liked seeing in assignments and essays. Definitely ask these people for help! If you feel like you’re really struggling, consider paying for a student tutor who will assist you throughout the term.

If your school has a Students Offering Support (SOS) chapter, take full advantage. SOS offers Exam-AID sessions run by students, for students. For a small donation of $20, you are given access to an Exam-AID session usually taught by a student who has taken the course. Sessions cover the entire course and come with notes made by the student instructor. This great organization puts all proceeds from Exam-AID sessions toward development programs in Latin America. Whether you attend their Exam-AID sessions as a way to cram or as a refresher, you can rest assured your money is going to a great cause.

Students Currently Taking the Course

They may not have the expertise and knowledge that professors or previous students have, but they may be struggling in class just like you. You’re all in the same boat, so help each other out! Consider starting a study group and meet once a week to discuss questions, readings, assignments, etc. It’s also a great way to make some friends in class.

Mentally Preparing for School

Image by Christopher Neugebauer, Flickr

Image by Christopher Neugebauer, Flickr

Summer is coming to a close and everyone is doing all they can to soak up their last few days of sunshine and freedom. While you attempt to claim every second of your vacation, you should also be mentally preparing yourself for the rigours of school. It will help reduce stress levels and get you on a good start to an amazing school year.

Adjust your Sleep Schedule

You may be used to sleeping at 1 A.M. and waking up at noon, but you should start getting your body used to your school schedule. If you have 9 A.M. classes in the fall and need to be awake by 7 A.M. to get ready and commute, consider being in bed by 11 P.M. or earlier. It will help you wake up with ease on that dreaded September day and beat the tiredness and grumpiness your classmates will feel.

Go Back-to-School Shopping

Nothing gets you in the mood for school like back-to-school shopping. A lot of stores currently have great deals on pens, paper, planners, laptops, tablets, and other school supplies. Seeing others in the store preparing for school with shopping carts piled high with notebooks and pens is extremely motivational, and dare I say it, even exciting. Getting lost in the stationery aisle is a personal favourite activity of mine. Once you’re stocked up, you’ll be ready to take plenty of notes!

Hang Out at School

Before you accuse me of rambling like a nerd, think about it. Being around school is a great way to avoid being overwhelmed on the first day. It’s like dipping your toes into the pool before diving in, and you can enjoy the campus without stress. Get yourself acclimated to the school and navigate your way around before the crowds of students come in. Visit your classrooms or find your new favourite study spot in the library. Especially helpful for first year students, you’ll be able to get comfortable in an unfamiliar setting.

Pre-read Your Textbooks

Not exactly the most fun summer activity, but it will help lessen your stress in the coming weeks. If you’re lucky enough to have a list of required textbooks early, purchase and read the first few chapters. During the school year, it will feel like you have no time to read. You will thank yourself for tackling a bit of it in the summer and eliminating some stress. If you can get a hold of your course syllabus, you can get yourself ready for the course load and help relieve some academic anxiety.

What if you don’t have your book list yet? Get in the habit of reading. If you haven’t cracked open a book in a while, it will be difficult to adjust to the amount of reading you will have to do in school. Get yourself prepared by reading a couple pages of a book – any book – every day.

Think of Ways to Improve

Everyone makes several mistakes in their previous year of school. Reflect on the last year, whether it was in university or high school, and think about the things you want to improve upon, whether academic or social. University is all about self-improvement and preparing yourself to be an incredible human being. Start off your list with something everyone should improve on: remembering to relax and have fun!