Full steam into the second semester!

Hello again everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, and since I’ve been gone I’ve finished my first semester exams and am now well into the second semester of my second year.

As we’ve started a new semester now, I wanted to share some tips on how to adjust to a new semester and new modules, as there is quite a difference between the first and second semester of any year of University.

The tricky thing about starting the second semester is that a lot of people experience burnout during the first semester and then lack the motivation and energy to jump into the second semester ready for the new content. It’s essential that you take the reading week after exams to fully rest and regain your energy, so that you’re fully ready for the second semester.

The second semester also has the Easter/Spring break in the middle of it, so that provides you with another opportunity to fully rest and regain your motivation/energy needed to tackle the assignments and exams due after the break. The Spring break usually gets a lot of people into a tough spot regarding catching up with content. Some people see it as an opportunity to catch up with the work they’ve fallen behind with during the first half of the semester, but when push comes to shove, they spend the majority of the break resting and not doing any work. Before you know it, you’ll only have a week of the Spring break left to complete all of your coursework and to catch up with lectures.

Don’t let this be you! Not to be cringe, but it helps to stick to the “work hard, play hard” motto. Split your days during the Spring break. Make a schedule for what work/lectures you’re going to do every day of the break, making sure to include rest days of course, and stick to it as best you can. For me personally, during the breaks away from University, I prefer to wake up early-ish (9am so to speak) and work until roughly 5pm-ish and then call it a day. The rest of the day is then purely to relax and to do anything that I want to. This way, you’re conditioning yourself to work to your full potential during the day, and then rest to your full potential during the evening/night time.

Aside from the Spring break, you might have to adopt different study techniques during the semester to tackle the different needs of the individual modules. For example, I’m currently undertaking an Immunology module, where there is a lot of discussion regarding the myeloid and progenitor cell lineages in the immune system. For this type of content, I personally find it really useful to use mind maps and to draw out how all of the different immune cells link to each other. In my other modules, the usual methods of note taking on my computer suffice, but I’ve found it useful to use time management techniques to break up the lectures that have a lot of content. The Pomodoro technique is quite helpful in my opinion, whereby you study without any breaks for 25 minutes, and then take a 5 minute break. Then, you simply rinse and repeat the whole process until you’ve done a satisfactory amount of work. It could be really worthwhile for you to just sit down, research some different study techniques, and to find what really works for you.

The University and all of my Module leaders have been great with organising review sessions or essay writing workshops this semester. These revision/workshop sessions have been so valuable, seeing as some of my modules are definitely challenging this semester (and I’m definitely going to need all of the help I can get in them)! Don’t be shy to ask any questions you may have during these sessions either. You need to make the most of the resources that are given to you, and you definitely won’t be sorry that you took the opportunity when you look back at it.

Furthermore, it could be beneficial to write down all of the ways that you’ll be assessed for each of your modules. Write down all of the essays/lab reports/midterms that you’ll need to complete for each of your modules, alongside their due date, how much they weight towards the overall module grade and the structure that each has. This will help you to feel less overwhelmed by everything that is due, and will ensure that you don’t forget about any of your deadlines. Forgetting about a due date could really cause a lot of unnecessary stress half-way through the semester, so it’s best to stay on top of it and be reminded constantly.

Lastly, just take everything one step at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do everything all at once. Set time out of your day to tackle a specific module, and once you’re done with that task, move on to the next. It is essential that you take time for yourself as well. If you’re having an off day and really need a break, listen to your body and take that break. A tired mind and body will not carry you very far, and at the end of the day your mental health should come above all else.

If you believe that you can do great, then you will. Just take it one step at a time and you’ll be more than fine.

I hope this post can help some of you!

That’s all from me this week!

Have a good weekend 🙂