Managing your emotions when going home is an unexpected obstacle as a first-year student. There are so many things to look forward to: your own bed, home cooked meals and the spirit of the holiday season for winter break. Something I did not plan for was my emotion, the changing relationships of friends from home and the separation from ‘freedom’ that I so loved while being on campus. This is not to say that your experience will be exactly like mine; however, you can use it as a possible rendition of what you may feel when you travel to ‘home sweet home.’
The first time I came home for an extended period of time was winter break. I remember feeling really confused about having almost a whole month off from school, not being surrounded by all the wonderful new friends I’d made and my parents suddenly asking me to do chores again or set curfews. It took me a moment to realize that there had been a change in my lifestyle and that needed to be recognized. The break is only temporary and I could have focused more on being around my family so often again, finally eating my mom’s cooking and being in the comfort of my own home. Once that happened, curling up on the couch to watch a movie was the best feeling. I realized I hadn’t had it in a while and it felt really good.
A part of me also felt a sense of surprise. They say ‘expect the unexpected’ and in this moment that was definitely true. I almost felt like I was on vacation, living out of suitcase during those weeks of break because I technically no longer lived at home. Home was a slightly different feeling. If you have younger siblings, you sort of feel out of the loop with their lives because you’ve been ‘away.’ Even my younger sisters hadn’t grasped that ‘sissy’s going to college’ meant sissy’s moving out and becoming (trying to be) an adult. I noticed my relationships with some close friends from home were shifting. As I had grown through my first semester at college, so had they. I also realized we were not as close as I had hoped to still be. It was nice to see everyone again and also to acknowledge that we all are on different paths now, and that’s okay. The initial emotion was slightly shocking however it became a comfortable reality.
Overall, your emotions when going home can vary and shift often. I think it’s important to ultimately realize that things change and your lifestyle now is also really different. Take the break as a time to relax or mentally prepare for the shift back to school for second semester as well. Continue to be aware that change is inevitable and that’s okay.
Time management is a difficult task to grasp for any student. It requires a lot of organization for which most college students do not have the patience. However, this is a skill that I acquired early on to benefit my future. I based my ability to master it through five key topics. It takes time to get comfortable with the routine, but it can be extremely beneficial when having to complete multiple tasks (especially during exam week.)
I know sometimes it’s really hard to see the use in a planner, especially after you spend 20 minutes picking out the one that “looks pretty” in the Target school supplies aisle. In reality, planners can actually be a lot more than a pretty visual. The idea of keeping track of what obligations, activities, events and responsibilities can also be applied through a calendar app. I practiced this by always writing things down and even including Post-it Notes for more important tasks. Highlighting important events is also helpful. The routine of organizing all of these in certain time frames can make you feel a lot more comfortable about your schedule.
On any walk back to my residence hall, I would often anticipate how much homework I had to finish for the next day. I realized that if I completed each assignment based on the order of my classes, I would be able to enjoy a more peaceful walk home. If I was assigned projects, I would make sure to prioritize them leading up to the deadline so that I had time to work over multiple days. The Eisenhower Matrix (above) is a great chart system that helps make the decision of when to complete work. This can really encourage a good sense of organization and have you feeling a lot more relieved when it comes to due dates.
Work at Productive Times
I had a hard time studying or doing homework during times when I was most focused. I often would try to accomplish my work during the day, in between classes when I had tiny breaks. I soon realized I was not able to pay attention or be productive when my mind was thinking of the class I had to attend in the next 30 minutes. I realized that the evening time is where my motivation to get things done was most relevant. This aspect is solely based on personal judgement of what time of day you think you can be most productive. Make sure to be honest with yourself in order to ensure a good outcome.
It’s Okay To Say No!
There are numerous fun activities, social events and academic responsibilities that encompass a regular day as a student. Your choice to participate is a personal decision depending on your interests and abilities, and it can be tempting to overcommit to multiple projects at once. However, it is okay to decline opportunities simply because you do not have the time. Overcommitment can also cause you not to perform to your best ability. Having the confidence to say no can decrease stress and allow for more time toward other tasks you’ve prioritized.
Over the course of school, it is easy to forget to take time for yourself. This does not always have to be strategically scheduled, but sometimes—when you’re really busy—scheduling 45 minutes to do something you enjoy is extremely helpful. I would often spend 30 minutes coloring or dancing to music in my residence hall room just to catch a break from the madness of my schedule. “Me time” is necessary to prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed and reduces stress on a more personal perspective.
I hope these tips help to understand the process of time management. Remember that it takes time to adjust and think about what will work best for you. Happy managing!