peer pressure

How to combine routines & spontaneity in student life

combine-routine-and-spontaneity

In yesterday’s TUB-Thump, I gave a bonus tip on planning and scheduling.

It was a bonus tip, because you probably already schedule some (if not all) your stuff.

All this timetabling and commitment to regular tasks is useful. But how do you let a bit of spontaneity into your experience too?

We’ve all had moments when we decide to drop everything and do something fun on a whim. It’s not rare. Last minute decisions can be weekly. Daily, even.

When you take that spontaneous risk, do you get away with it? Or does it bite you on the bum?

Maybe you’re lucky most times. But every time you take the risk, you may not be so lucky the next time.

No matter how “in the moment” you plan to be, you’ve got lectures to attend and essay deadlines to meet.

Here’s the weird thing: Those scheduled events are a good thing.

Seriously. The more focused you are on your schedule, the more spontaneous you can be.

I know that sounds strange, but there’s a logic to it. When you’re in control of your day, you’re able to manage your free time and available gaps far better. You’ll know exactly when you’re at a loose end.

So far so simple. But there’s a big ask if you want it to work well. You need to be in control of YOU.

Just because someone else suggests an impromptu outing or social session, that doesn’t mean you should always agree.

So how do you work out the times when you *can* agree to some impulsive fun?

ducks-fun

When you know you schedule intimately, you can rearrange it without fuss. The more you’re in control, the easier it is to make changes as you go along. When an impromptu session strikes, some are clearly possible and others aren’t. And when you’re at a definite loose end, you can choose the impromptu sessions yourself!

Every step of the way, this involves you being in control. Nobody else controls your situation. Peer pressure is a no-no.

Happily for you, peer pressure won’t feel so much like pressure anyway. When others try to overpower your initial decision, you’re swayed through uncertainty. By taking control of your timetable, you quickly know what will budge and what won’t.

If you’re determined to fit in something new when there’s no room left on your schedule, you’ll have to sacrifice something else on your list.

The good thing is, it should be clear what you can sacrifice, if anything.

Take these two situations:

  1. I was about to start working on an essay. I was starting early, so I had plenty of time to take a relaxed approach. It was a hot morning and it seemed like half the student village had decided to make the day an outdoor party. I could tell everyone was in a good mood, because friends were calling up to me and offering me free drink.
  2. I was trying to get my head around some concepts for an upcoming exam. There wasn’t much time left and I was still trying to work out best approaches and draft some test responses. Some of my mates decided to go to the SU for the evening and wanted me to come along.

Guess which of the situations I changed my plans for and which one I didn’t.

With plenty of time in the first instance, I rearranged my schedule so I could enjoy a day of debauchery fun in the sun. And as much as I wanted to go out in the second instance, there wasn’t the same wriggle room.

I had to say no in the second instance. It wasn’t important enough to sacrifice something else, and time was running out for the exam preparation.

Remember, no matter how much you’d like to sacrifice your academic work, that’s not the best plan… 😉

Do you feel in control of your schedule enough to let impromptu sessions into your life? And what’s the biggest thing you’ve ever had to say no to, even though you REALLY wanted to do it?

10 Things To Know When You Start University – A Fresher Tip Sheet

fresher-tip-sheet

Ah, the joys of starting university! Always room for surprise, even when you think you’ve got it all sussed out beforehand.

I can’t list everything that’ll happen. Nobody can do that.

But here’s a start.

Now you’re a fresher, here’s a list of 10 things to expect. Time to get relationships (with others and with yourself) in check.

In no particular order:

1. First friends aren’t always your best friends.

The pressure to impress is huge. When you find new people, you may form a lasting friendship.

But don’t be too cut up if it doesn’t work out. New people come into your life all the time at university and you’ll get to know all sorts of characters. Some will turn out to be friends for many years to come. Just not necessarily the people you meet in Fresher’s Week.

friendship

2. Everyone is coping except you? Don’t believe it!

No matter how out of place and clueless you feel, there are other students just as overwhelmed as you.

It’s easy to think you’re the only person with issues, because you only know your own mind. Starting out at university is not a walk in the park and there’s so much to get to grips with. But remember the first point…people want to look impressive. Not everyone is being totally honest about their difficulties.

If you think you’re the only person who’s not coping well, you’ll feel even worse about it. All those teething troubles are standard.

3. Homesick is standard.

You don’t think you’ll get over it, but you’re likely to have shaken off the sadness within a few weeks. For some, it takes until after Christmas to settle down. It is rare for the problem to be so bad that you have to leave.

For tips on combating those blues, check out my Help for the Hopelessly Homesick.

4. Give new activities a go, so long as you don’t go against your personal opinions/likes/beliefs.

If you don’t drink alcohol, a Fresher pub crawl won’t be your activity of choice. But what if you want to get involved and be a part of the fun with your new housemates?

No problem with joining in. Just don’t feel the need to defend yourself. Peer pressure goes away quicker when you don’t get involved in other people’s fake debates. And the start of a pub crawl (or halfway through it) is a bad time anyway. Bat conversation away and say you’ll explain another day. If someone is too persistent, it may be best to cut your losses and safely remove yourself from their presence.

Stay confident in your identity. As you settle in over the coming weeks, you’ll find situations to suit your lifestyle. The people you get to know here will at least accept who you are, and may even share your core values.

Oh, and if you just want to limit the booze, here are some tips to tame the spirits.

drinking

5. You are yourself.

You can’t work out how to make other people like you, because there’s no way for you to befriend yourself. Besides, you don’t need to fake it at university. There are an almost limitless number of choices, options, opinions, likes and dislikes to explore. As with the point above, find the people who will accept and love you for who you are.

6. Everyone pulled except you? Exaggeration only upsets you more.

Everyone did it except me…

So and so ALWAYS happens…

You don’t need to follow the crowd or succomb to peer pressure, as hard as it feels to go against the grain. And I can assure you that not EVERYONE pulls during fresher’s, even though it can seem a bit in your face at times.

7. What do you want to be known for? Be careful.

Do you want to make a big impact on campus from Day One? Getting exposure is great, but you don’t need to do it straight away. Playing the long game is safer than trying to be a hero before you’ve worked out the lay of the land.

Known to be known, no matter what…Is that enough?

8. “If I think the worst, then things can’t get any worse. They’ll only get better.” NOT TRUE!

With this attitude, you’ll only ever think the worst. No matter how good it gets, you’re fixed on the worst outcome, which blinds you to what’s happening.

Prepare for the worst, but don’t think it. Preparation is different to expectation.

words

9. You’ll work out most things sooner than you think.

The impossible struggle only feels impossible while you’re struggling. Beyond that, it gets better.

It practically always gets better. In all my dealings with freshers over the years, most start with issues that feel insurmountable and nearly every one recovers without fuss. Of the few who find it more difficult, most of them still manage to get over that hurdle.

And if you think your case is different, just remember Point 2. You’re much closer to the side of hope and recovery and success than you think.

10. SU activities are great, but don’t dismiss them if one doesn’t work out.

I made this mistake. I signed up for clubs at the Freshers Fayre, went to my first meeting for one of the clubs, found it disappointing, and decided clubs and societies weren’t much good.

I hardly bothered for a while after that. Yeah…well done me. Sigh.

I’m one of the first people to tell you to look beyond first impressions. Dig deeper, even if your opinion stays the same.

I didn’t follow my own advice here and suffered a little for it. Don’t be quick to dismiss!

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There’s a lot to think about settling in as a fresher.

And as soon as you’ve calmed down with these lifestyle issues, then comes all the studying!

If you’re worried about the academic work for the year ahead, I’ve got a great freebie for you…

Get the upper hand and learn to appreciate what’s expected of you and how to prepare for it. Download my ebook ‘Live Life, Study Hard‘ right now.

Hazing in the UK: “I’d like a pint of vodka with my cup of tea…and I’ll drink it naked.”

Hazing is a term known in the US, but not generally one used here in the UK. It’s all about initiations into clubs and societies. It’s not usually pleasant and it has occasionally involved death.

A report has been released that suggests over half of all college students in the US have experienced hazing when involved in clubs and societies.

But what’s it like in a British uni?

From my experience, the nearest you’d get to an initiation was drinking until you’d collapsed and/or running around campus naked. And it wasn’t exactly compulsory. It may have been encouraged and frowned upon if you didn’t join in (peer pressure, here we come), but it rarely moved towards out and out bullying.

Maybe I’ve lived a sheltered life…

Of course, sometimes it went too far. Yet the same can be said for drinking games, nights out, and so on. Most of us have, at times, gone a bit too far when having fun, joining in, getting over excited, and being pressured by peers. It’s not good, but it isn’t known for doing much harm in the long run.  What are your thoughts?

Wherever in the world you’re reading, have you experienced hazing, organised any initiations, or heard any stories of pranks that went wrong?

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