When School Gets Hard

When School Gets Hard

We've All Been There
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We’ve all been there. The moments where you’re cramming for the third test this week, desperately trying to shove any and all information into your memory bank for a better shot at an A.

The moments where you’re four hours deep in one day’s worth of homework. The moments where you’re repeating that concept your incomprehensible biology teacher/professor taught earlier in class, begging your brain to just understand what the hell is going on.

The moments where one minute it’s 5:00 p.m. after your extracurricular, and then next, it’s 5:00 a.m., and you’re not even close to being finished with that project. The moments where you’re so frustrated, so drained from thinking for hours, that you just stare at a wall instead and default to doing absolutely nothing, just to save yourself some sanity.

And for some, the moments where you’re so mad you’re forced to overcommit to so much in an effort to obtain your future that you just start crying.

You want that college acceptance letter. You want to see you got into medical school. You want to get straight As and graduate at the top of your class.

However, you also want to be able to unwind and watch your favorite TV show without always subconsciously stressing out about what assignments are due. It’s sad that even in the event that you aren’t slammed with work, you’re convinced you’re missing something anyway because you aren’t used to the feeling of being free. It feels like you have to pick –– social life or school grades.

Either way, one seems to suffer and someone is let down. Then there are also all of the what ifs. What if I miss out on that birthday party? What if my friends hang out without me and leave me behind? What if I let my parents down? What if I don’t get into my dream school? What if I don’t have enough extracurricular activities to be a competitive applicant?

What if I fail?

But the question really is: what if you don’t?

Hear this out. What if you just took a deep breath here and organized your thoughts? It doesn’t have to feel so chaotic all of the time. Despite what you may be thinking, you are going to make it. You’ve got the grit, determination, and heart that it takes because you’ve made it this far.

I know you have the go-getter attitude necessary to make it happen because even when you’re moaning and groaning and maybe even crying while you’re studying for that big exam, you don’t stop what you’re doing.

You keep driving until you’ve got it down. It’s incredible, and I applaud you for it. I appreciate your efforts, even if you think others don’t, and I know that you’ll be rewarded for your strength down the road. Absolutely nothing is impossible as long as you work for it, which is exactly what you’re doing.

However, please keep your mental health in check. You shouldn’t be grinding every second of every day. That would take a toll on anyone’s mind. Space things out. Get that project done ahead of time when you know you have a day that’s not as congested. Use your weekdays to get everything done that you need to, then relax on the weekends.

Throw in an hour or two of studying if you feel like you have to do something. Study the material as you go, not the day before the test. Keep a journal of things you need to get done in a day and demolish the list.

As for your mental health, hang out with your friends. That doesn’t mean you have to go every time, but your friends can help you in a way you don’t even think about. Find a hobby that destresses you, and use it when you feel yourself getting tense. Make sure you leave time for YOU.

In the end, not everything is as big of a deal as it seems. It may seem important to get an A on every test, but truly one B or C will not kill your future as a whole. One bad grade on your transcript isn’t going to keep you from getting into college or medical school.

Keep the trend going up. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Work hard but make sure you’re having fun, too. Life is too short to live it completely tense one hundred percent of the time. Odds are, you aren’t going to fail unless you let yourself. Keep plugging away at your goals and aspirations. Let nothing stop you.

Keep the faith.

Get that A.

Go to medical school.

I believe in you. You should, too.

Cover Image Credit: Julie Myers

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When People Respond to My Major With 'You Better Have a Rich Husband'

The things I've learned working with kids are worth more to me as a person than any college class I've taken. Most days, the kids teach me more than I could ever teach them.

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This past week I have been working at the local elementary school's art camp as an assistant teacher. I've been helping with the camp for three years, and I've worked at a preschool as well. Now I'm in college at the University of North Alabama as an Elementary Education major. More and more lately, I'm getting a sour face when I tell people that I'm an education major." Be prepared to be poor," they say. "You better get a rich husband."

But I'm here to argue against the preconceived notion that I have picked my career based solely upon the fact that I won't make as much as a doctor or engineer. Is this the mindset that you want the people who are teaching your children to have? If so, good luck to you and your family. I've been incredibly blessed by my short time spent with kids so far. Working with children has greatly improved my life and I'll tell you why.

Working with kids is not easy by any definition; I think that's something we can all agree with. But isn't that what makes it so wonderful? I've always heard that being a teacher takes a special kind of person, but I wholeheartedly believe that working with kids makes you into a special person. The things I've learned working with kids are worth more to me as a person than any college class I've taken. Most days, the kids teach me more than I could ever teach them.

I know you could see this one coming: kids are patience builders.

Coming from a perfectionist who began teaching with a low tolerance for anything that went wrong, I've learned a lot about patience. Children are just learning, just beginning their lives. They haven't had enough experience to shape their conscious or moral standards. In their eyes, they have two models to form their foundation upon: their parents, and those around them. So how can we expect anything less than occasionally acting out or making mistakes? Maybe we're the ones they're modeling their silly behavior after at times. Kids may get into more trouble than we prefer, but we love them all the same.

Kids are, sometimes brutally, unquestionably honest.

If your hair is frizzy and sticking up everywhere, then they'll let you know that you look like a porcupine. Or why, they'll ask with a giggle, are those red bumps all over your face? I'm so thankful that I don't even have to keep myself humble; the kids do it for me… and I don't even have to ask! They will never hesitate to point out your flaws or mistakes, even if it's something that you're trying to conceal; you can never underestimate a child's observation skills. They continue to impress me every day.

They stay optimistic.

It doesn't matter if they've never painted before; they're going to paint a picture of a Tyrannosaurus Rex for their dad and he's going to love it. Being an optimistic person myself, it gives me high hopes to be around children who love life and look for the good in people. I think their optimism is quite contagious. If only I could catch onto being so excited about something that early in the morning.

Also, with children comes continuous laughter and fun.

Working with them brings out the 5-year-old in me (not that I don't act like I'm five years old all the time). Whether it's bringing inanimate objects to life or imaginary friends, kids know how to have fun no matter the circumstance. You have to be creative with them, constantly making up games and characters to keep up with their imagination. You kids keep me young... or age me twice as fast. You decide.

Their innocence is refreshing.

They haven't experienced the world yet to spoil their minds, and I continuously wish that I could be so innocent minded. In the words of Patrick Rothfuss, “When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind." You took the words right out of my mouth, Rothfuss. It's nice to be around little ones so untainted.

They're always there to lift you up.

There is truly no better feeling than a child making something for you, because they used their time and their resources that they could've spent doing anything else. When I have my own classroom, I'll be eager to display all of the gifts my kids have graciously given me. They love seeing their work hanging up because they know we treasure it. But the tangible gifts are only a small portion of what truly matters, which is the sentiment that I so often receive from kids. If I'm down and out, they can tell. If they run up and give me a hug or a smile so big, it never fails to brighten my day.

Lastly and most importantly, kids are authentic.

They're completely themselves, because the cruel world hasn't given them a reason not to be. They're unashamedly bold and that's something that we should all strive for. Kids are friends with whoever they want, and they don't distinguish each other by race or beliefs, but simply see each other for who they are. It's OK to be different. As the older generation, it's our job to set an example for our kids to be themselves and to love life.

Now you understand how interacting with students has shaped me as a person, and I'm sure those who have been around kids would agree. My passion for teaching has given me so much more than I ever thought it would, and I've barely gotten started. I can't wait to see how much I've grown as a person at the end of my journey.

So next time you cringe at the life decisions one has made because of financial reasons, consider that they have a huge heart for teaching and all that it entails. Maybe they're in it for more than simply the money. Never discredit an individual's passions because of your worldly attitude.

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8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Studying Abroad

Going abroad is an exciting time, but it’ll fly by, so take advantage of everything you can.

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Studying abroad was the best experience of my life because it taught me valuable life lessons that I couldn't have learned any other way. There were things I wish I had known before going abroad though.

1. BUDGET. BUDGET. BUDGET.

If you're not saving money beforehand, then you're not ready to go abroad. I saved up hardly any money and struggled to survive when it came to traveling abroad. I kid you not when I say that I sometimes packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for these trips. I was always aware of prices, but it's harder to stick to a budget than you think. Your best bet is to save up beforehand, so you're not stuck watching others spend the money that you wish you had.

2. Even though the food is out of this world, monitor your consumption

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It's very easy to overeat abroad because of the new food you are suddenly surrounded by. There are numerous dishes to try and it's hard to stop eating them once you start. Watching the quantity of food may be hard, but it's necessary when the gym is 75 euros a month (which is not in the budget).

3. Travel as much as you can, but don't be a typical tourist

When traveling to new city, take it all in and try to live like a local. Learning about a new culture is an experience that should not be missed out on because that's the whole point of traveling. Instead of going to touristy restaurants, try one with more authentic food. The experience is more rewarding when you're embracing this new city.

4. Pack light because you're going to buy a whole new wardrobe abroad

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European style is drastically different from American. You won't see anyone walking around in sweatpants or leggings. With this new style, you won't be able to help yourself when it comes to shopping. You'll want these new styles for yourself and you'll come home with an extra suitcase worth of clothes.

5. Interacting with locals has its perks

When you first get abroad, establish your favorite cafe/restaurant and learn the names of your servers. Doing this can result in free cookies or limoncello (at least in Florence). I'm not a fan of limoncello, but the servers would always bring out free shots of it after dinner because I frequented the restaurant on a weekly basis.

6. You'll be out of your comfort zone more than you expect to

You may think you're ready to leave America to traipse across a different continent, but chances are: you're not. The hardest part is getting on the plane and watching it take off, knowing you won't see Home in a few months. You'll feel homesick and have fomo (fear of missing out) once you're there, but by then it's too late to turn around. You're sense of independence will skyrocket, making you more prepared for you future journeys.

7. You're going to make better friends than you could ever imagine

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The people you meet abroad are going to become some of your best friends. You're going to travel together, eat dinner together, and do everything else together. You'll make the best memories with these people, whether that be standing on benches with a stein of beer at Springfest in Munich or exploring the famous food market in Barcelona. No matter where you find yourself, you'll want these people by your side forever.

8. Make the best of your experience!

Do everything you can to learn, grow, and have fun. There's so many places to explore, foods to try, and people to meet, so do it all. You don't want to regret not doing something, so do everything you can.

Everyone thinks they know best about how to travel but trust me when I say, make the most of your time there, because it'll be over before you know it. That's the most important piece of advice I can give you. Enjoy your travels and do everything you possibly can!

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