The Student Health Center and two university students explain how to cope with stressful and intense study periods and organize your study life in a healthy way.
Days full of exhausting studies, lacking time for himself and the anxiety to fail – when Pranyou Promkaew received a scholarship to study International Marketing and Brand Management at Lund University he did not image how much Swedish student life would differ from that in Thailand. All these changes together with the professors’ expectations in the courses caused him a lot of pressure and feelings of self-doubt.
“For me I had difficulties with the English language as well as with the cultural differences as I have not been living abroad before. The other problem was that I felt a lot of pressure since most of our work is in groups. If I don’t do well, the whole group is affected.”
When Pranyou Promkaew experienced these challenges he talked to his family who encouraged him to take more time for himself. However, it was not easy for him to actually make room for a hobby, but he understood that in order to feel more relaxed and less anxious it is important to find a balance.
Talking about photography, Pranyou’s big passion, his eyes suddenly light up:
“I have started to take photos after my bachelor degree. A friend inspired me because he took a photo of me on my graduation day and when I saw his photo I really liked it. So I equipped myself with an old camera and began to really enjoy taking my own photos.”
After his first weeks in Sweden, Pranyou Promkaew however realized that the master program required all of his energy and time. As a consequence he stopped taking photos and put even more time into his studies. Nevertheless, he is convinced that after finishing his studies in June he will start again. In the meantime he understood that he has to take better care of himself.
“Eating and sleeping well is also extremely important. I sometimes experience sleeping problems when my head does not stop thinking. I have to learn to be more focused on the now: Not to worry too much about what will happen if I do this or that. Then you cannot concentrate on important things”, says Pranyou Promkaew.
Talking to Ulrika Linse Strömland and Åsa Probert, both psychological counselors at the Student Health Center, confirm that a lot of international students struggle to adjust to Sweden. Especially during exam times students experience stress, which ultimately leads to a negligence of their free time.
“They come here to Sweden and they know when, where and how to study. But when I ask what they do when they are done with studying at the end of the day they do not know what to respond”, says Ulrika Linse.
The counselors always highlight the importance of finding a balance between your studies and free time. They try to encourage students to actually enjoy the time outside their studies:
“We consider it as extremely necessary to recover. Since in some cultures it is expected that your main focus should only be your studies, we actually have to explain that you become more efficient and more focused on your studies if you have a balanced life. Many of the internationals think that they do not deserve to have free time because they might have earned a scholarship and are convinced that they are here only to study.”
However, it is no rocket science to achieve a balance between your studies and free time as this three-step approach shows:
- Ask yourself: What did I do back home? Look for an activity that fills you with joy and that you can do here in Lund.
- Schedule your free time and make consciously room for your hobby or passion.
- Talk to other students and share your struggles: Your are not the only one to experience stress.
Hanna Sundqvist studies psychology at Lund University and is convinced that finding a hobby or a passion is the key towards a more fulfilled and successful life. When Hanna discovered her love for yoga ten years ago, she found her own way towards inner peace and more relaxation:
“Yoga is my little room of life. It helps me to get energy and feel more connected to myself. “
Last year she decided to take a semester long break and travel to India to pursue a yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, the so-called yoga capital of the world. Over a two months period Hanna had scheduled courses throughout the day, which taught her much about ancient yoga philosophy. Looking back, she believes this time also influenced the way she copes with her studies now.
“During the teacher training I learned to be present and not to be too much in the future. So if I study, I really focus on my studies a 100 percent. I put away my cell phone so that I don’t have any distractions around me. As a consequence I do not have to sit at my desk twelve hours a day”, says Hanna Sundqvist.
For Hanna, the prioritization of both her yoga and studies is crucial. She realized that as soon as you start to prioritize your studies and your hobby, nothing has to stand aside. Also as a student you can have both.
“As a psychology student I know that you cannot focus on your studies fourteen hours a day. I always prioritize my yoga. Whatever it is, your passion or interest; there is always room for it if you actually make room for it. In the long run it is worth much more than missing the latest episode of a TV series“, says Hanna Sundqvist.