10 things I wish someone told first year me about SWOTVAC & the exam period…

Shannon, a UniMelb Adventures sub-editor, is a third year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in Criminology and International Politics with a Diploma in French. When she’s not busy with university and work she likes to relax by getting brunch & coffee, doing some yoga and watching Law and Order SVU.

1. JUST KEEP READING

source: community.babycenter.com
source: community.babycenter.com

So, you’ve chosen a topic for your essay/take-home and you just think to yourself… “Where do I EVEN start? This dude has written a million articles and 87 books?!?!” And then you slowly start the journey of looking for anything useful to steal and turn into a relevant paragraph, but you feel like you’re never going to find ‘the answer’…
Just breathe and KEEP READING. I cannot stress this enough. Even though you feel like you’re walking through the desert with no water and with each passing minute you are dying a little more, somewhere in there, everything will start to makes sense.

2. Get your food sorted!

source: tumblr.com
source: tumblr.com

Stressful times warrant chocolate, ice cream and noodles but you do need some form of sustenance. Pre-plan your food or even just snacks so that you don’t have another thing to feel bad about. Nuts, cut up veggies to nibble on, fruit and snack bars are all great. Brain food is important!

3: All-nighters

source: twitter
source: twitter

All-nighters sometimes seem like the only option, but I assure you, your body will catch up and punish you later. Organise yourself so that you can stay up late or wake up early, but try to avoid pulling an all-nighter where you sit and watch the sun rise and wonder if you’re even human anymore. I’ve foolishly done this and each time my body shuts down & I am sick for days… #thehumanbodyalwayswins

4. YOU DO YOU

source: pandawhale.com
source: pandawhale.com

DO what works for you. If you can only study away from home – do that. If your brain isn’t functioning until midday – all good. If you need to sit away from your bed because it is too tempting (this is me), move your study space to another room. Leave your phone somewhere it won’t distract you and perhaps even block your Facebook for a while (been there, done that). Everyone works in different ways and that’s okay.

5. “I have no time at all” is sometimes a little fib

source: memegen.com
source: memegen.com

So you have no time you say? But you did just stalk your tutor on LinkedIn and people from high school on Facebook and know who just went on holiday, what they’ve been eating and what colour they dyed their hair yesterday… Don’t trick, YOU DO have the time, so why not do something beneficial for yourself & DE-STRESS. Meditate, stretch yourself out on the floor, breathe deeply for a few minutes, go to a quick yoga class or have a nice relaxing shower. A couple minutes of zoning out can make you feel a whole lot better and ready to take on the next hours of studying! Recommendation: Download ‘1 Giant Mind’ mind from the App Store – it’s a free daily meditation app, 15 minutes is all you need and it’s definitely worth it! You are welcome.

6. THE END IS NEAR

source: tumblr.com
source: tumblr.com

You got through year 12, didn’t you? Yes. You got accepted into Melbourne Uni? Yes. You know what hard work is… even if it is sometimes annoying? Well, yeah. When you’re loosing hope and faith real quick remember why you’re here. You’re talented and full of enormous potential, never let yourself forget that. Just keeping going and when exams are over and the biggest decision you need to make is where to go for brunch, it will feel amazing! You can do it.

7. Knowing where to go for professional help is important

source: patricekcokley.com
source: patricekcokley.com

A lot of students don’t know what is available to help when things get a little too overwhelming.
Tutors/Lecturers: Unless specified, they are still there to answer general questions (not for take-home essays though) throughout SWOTVAC and usually the exam period.
The Melbourne University Health Service: Still in operation for health checks, counselling, mental health care and the usual other stuff.
The Academic Drop-in service (Mon-Fri 12-2pm Baillieu): Still running & where you can see someone for a quick read over your paper or to ask any questions!
Library Chat (library website): Where you can ask questions from home that may save you the trip to campus.

8. Write a list of treats

source: tumblr.com
source: tumblr.com

Give yourself something to look forward to when you’ve made it out of the grips of hell. Plan to get a massage, buy yourself those new shoes you’ve been eyeing off, spend a the weekend doing your favourite things, treat to yourself to a nice dinner & movie, go out with your friends and forget everything you just learnt. You’ve earnt it!

9. Everyone is also wandering helplessly for a little while; it’s not just you…

source: tumblr.com
source: tumblr.com

You’re not ‘an idiot’ or the ‘only one not getting this’… I can guarantee EVERYONE on your Facebook feed is struggling with something. Just because they aren’t all writing Facebook statuses about it, don’t think it is only you. Don’t feel bad for not knowing what is happening, part of the reason some students end up getting down on themselves is because it is hard to accept not being in the know all of the time. Don’t start this cycle of un-healthy thinking.

10. Get some feedback from the people around you

source: memecrunch.com
source: memecrunch.com

Throughout my first year I didn’t want to burden anyone with checking my drafts because I knew everyone was busy, but then I thought well actually, how about I help you in return? So I began to ask if my friends wanted to swap essay drafts, notes or study together. A different perspective or someone picking up on a dodgy sentence can make all the difference. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your peers, we’re all just trying to get out this in one piece!

GOOD LUCK everyone & CONGRATS to all graduating! 

– Shannon

source: memegen.com
source: memegen.com

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