Your Grade Isn’t Always a Product of Your Work

During finals week at colleges across the country, libraries are filled with students, empty classrooms are occupied after class hours, and (what seems like) the zombie apocalypse is beginning. The number of breakdowns and stressed-out, tired students that I had seen this semester was astonishing, and quite disheartening. Why do people let themselves get to this point in the first place?

I love learning. If I could be a permanent student without debt, I would be, or so I thought. This past year, the joy I got out of learning about new topics was overcome by the obsession to feel accomplished based on my grades. Many seniors I talked to this year, as well as myself, were upset that we were spending our last year of college worrying about our grades, instead of spending time with our friends and making memories before graduating.

After realizing that there is a such thing as over-studying, I realized that resting was very important. There has to be a balance. I formed a certain attitude when it came to studying for tests: If I studied as much as I could without overdoing it, and I didn’t do well, then I genuinely tried my best and could feel okay about it, even if I was disappointed at first. If I didn’t put any effort into studying for an exam and didn’t do well, then I had no one to blame but myself.

The truth is, you can put all of the effort you physically, mentally, and emotionally can possibly put into an assignment, and sometimes it just won’t pay off. Sometimes you get a teacher that doesn’t agree with you or doesn’t appreciate the way you write a paper, but the kid that wrote the paper half an hour before class got a better grade. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t a good student. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to work harder. It means that you didn’t live up to that professor’s standards, whatever they may be, and that isn’t always a bad thing. Maybe your grade doesn’t reflect all the work that you put into the assignment, but you did your best, and that is what matters.

All Seasons Come to an End

A few weeks ago, I went home for what schools typically call “spring break”.  Spring is when my campus is filled with blossoming trees, the smell of fresh mulch that makes me hold my breath, and the comforting warmth wrapping around my body, accompanied by a bright sunlight that I haven’t seen in months. Spring has always been a different experience in my hometown since I live in the north. You have to learn to enjoy every moment of it, because it is fleeting. We get a couple of days a year where the flowers on trees are blooming, but it is a beauty that does not last. This year, I spent my spring break indoors when I wasn’t shoveling the piles of snow that were up to my waist from the Stella blizzard.

It was March. We had a cold winter, but not a bad one in terms of weather. Usually my spirits start to get lifted in March because I know that spring is coming. However, it was already halfway through the month and we had just gotten a huge snowstorm that we spent the entire week shoveling ourselves out of. I knew that spring was still on its way, but I was a lot less optimistic about how quickly it would arrive. At this point, I couldn’t imagine it ever arriving.

Just like the weather goes through different seasons, we go through different seasons in our life. Sometimes we have a period of happiness, enthusiasm, hope. Other times, we find ourselves stressed out and overwhelmed, wondering when the next positive season will be coming. Recently I have been going through a lot with some personal issues that have come up, which is why I have not written a blog post in over a month. When I started this blog, I had planned to write a post every week, and I kept up with it even during my busiest times. However, I reached a point where I just couldn’t keep up. I was juggling too many things at once and it was not good for me.

Last week, the weather started getting better. The sun came out and I could finally walk around outside without wearing a winter jacket. To this very minute I still find it hard to believe that it is no longer winter. You will reach this point in your life. If you are going through a hard time, don’t be discouraged! Just as all good things come to an end, so do all bad things.

Studying abroad is a season, high school is a season, what struggles you are going through are just a season in your life. Make the most of the good seasons. Slow down and take everything in. Learn from the bad seasons and know that better things are on their way. You may not be able to see your spring quite yet, but it’s coming.

Do What You Love

Last month, while sitting in church, I had told the congregation that I was going to be taking the GRE. I said that I was worried about the test, but even more importantly, about my future because I do not know exactly what I want to do after college. The man standing at the pulpit, who was somewhere in his 60s, responded, “I’m 60 and I still don’t know what I want to do either.”

Why is it so hard to decide what career path we are going to choose? There are two kinds of people: those who tell us to follow our heart and do what we love in order to get fulfillment and others who put pressure on us to get a job that we may not love but will keep us financially stable.

Being a senior in college, I have only had a very small taste of the real world. However, there is something I have realized in the past year when I went abroad. You can already start to do what you love without it being your career.

I love writing and I enjoy helping others. I started this blog as a means to keep friends and family updated on my travels while I studied in Europe. After having returned to the United States, I still keep up with this blog for the purpose of helping those who will be going abroad themselves. I write about content that I wish I knew before going abroad, being the worrier that I am. I also have a YouTube channel that goes by the same name as this blog. There, I documented all my trips using foreign languages, and now I dedicate it to helping others learn languages.

What you love does not have to be successful for you to enjoy it. In a world where anyone can create a blog or make YouTube videos, getting subscribers is difficult and very competitive. Currently, I have a small following on both my blog and my YouTube channel compared to those who have thousands of followers, but that has not stopped me from creating content for the purpose of helping others. My goal is to help someone. If my blog or channel goes viral one day because of that, then so be it. If not, I am still happy that I am helping the small group of people subscribed to me.

It is important to live a life you enjoy. Being a college student can be both monotonous and overwhelming. I hear that the real world is worse. If you do not give yourself time to do what you love, whether it is volunteering, playing a sport, or making crafts, you will get burnt out and bored with life.

Winston Churchill once said, “Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” I am already doing what I want to do. I get fulfillment out of seeing how happy people get when they understand a difficult grammar concept in Spanish or French, or when they get excited rather than worry about traveling.

You too can start doing what you love.