Nov 082012

Author: Anna Palmer

For the past couple of days, I’ve been feeling this ever-familiar feeling of no motivation coupled with the ever-destructive feeling of not caring. As finals are approaching, I find myself with little to no motivation to study. A part of me would like to say “screw it” and just not even try, but another part urges me to buckle down or else I am going to be kicking myself for it later. As finals here are worth 50 percent of my final grade, I find myself in a panic, full of anxiety about not being able to tackle this seemingly huge feat in front of me. I find myself in fear, fearful of not passing my classes, which would be not only devastating but a pretty big waste of time and money. Sure, I am abroad and have had all of these amazing experiences but my parents are paying lots of money for me to go to school here too. Inevitably, all of this stress and fear of failing is combining and resulting in a feeling of almost paralyzing and overwhelming fear.

This semester, I know I have not been the typical “A” student I have been in the past and I’ve justified this by saying that school is not my focus while I am abroad. But I’m realizing I may have taken this too far and I know now that though my time abroad has been a lot about discovering myself and having all these awesome adventures, it wouldn’t be a true study abroad experience without the actual “study” aspect. This whole semester has been a blur of amazing experiences, but with this there has come somewhat of a price to pay. It feels like I honestly have not done any schoolwork since I’ve been in New Zealand. Now, that isn’t the case, but compared to the amount of work I would have back home it’s nothing. I’ve managed to pass all my assignments but just passing has left me with the added pressure of having to do fairly well on all my final exams. I feel like I’m playing catch-up for the entire semester and having to actually learn all this material in a matter of weeks. And the fact that a whole month is dedicated for finals adds to my procrastination and makes the stress and anxiety endure much longer than I would like.

It’s always been hard for me to focus on one thing at a time and to not get overwhelmed with everything I have to do. When I lose my focus and get wrapped up in a whirlwind of all the material I have yet to study, I literally want to curl up into a ball and attempt to shut out and forget about what I have to do. I inevitably end up sabotaging myself in the process and end up more stressed. I know that if I just take it one topic, one subject at a time I will be much more successful than getting overwhelmed with all the material I have yet to learn. And at the end of the day, I know all I can do is my best. I know it is my fear of failure that makes me believe I am destined to fail but realistically I know if I simply put the work in I will be successful.

I know that the stress and anxiety does nothing but make things worse and I also know that in order to relieve these feelings, I need to actually sit down and start chipping away at studying. So that is what I have been doing, but I am struggling to actually retain the information. My first final is in less than one week and even though I have done a good amount of studying for it, I still feel as though I am nowhere near prepared. You’d think this lack of preparation would urge me to sit down and study more but it in fact has had the opposite effect. This lack of motivation, though it hasn’t had severe consequences yet, has been hugely affecting my work ethic. But it’s time I stop putting off the inevitable and really crack down on studying.

I need to keep reminding myself that even though studies have not been my top priority abroad, this is still a very important aspect of my time abroad. I came here to learn both in and outside the classroom and I need to pass these classes not only for the transfer credit but for my own peace of mind. I want to succeed and I want to do well and in order to do so I know I need to start putting in this work. With this, I know that I cannot work myself into a frenzy and sacrifice my own sanity, so I need to balance this work with periodic breaks, whether that be a short walk or just taking a moment to breathe and meditate. My sanity and well-being is way more important than how well I do in school but I also know how much I do care about school.

Everything is a balancing act, balancing work with keeping a sane and peaceful state of mind, balancing lack of motivation with the reminder that it will all be worth it in the end, and balancing the lack of care with the reminder that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and to not care is to let this experience pass me by. I came to New Zealand to discover myself, and I would like to say that I’ve done that but if I am going to be honest, it hasn’t quite happened the way I’ve wanted it to. It’s been a process and being abroad has dramatically changed a lot of things in my life but I am realizing that everything, every challenge every struggle is truly a process and going to some foreign country may not rid me of that but it has forced me to deal with and work through them. I know I struggle to fully appreciate everything I have at a given moment and maybe that’s the key to this whole school thing, truly appreciating this opportunity to learn just for the sake of learning and in a foreign and beautiful place, like New Zealand, nonetheless.

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