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Surviving Exam Time Abroad

Roops soaks up the sun on a study break in London.


When studying abroad, it's tempting to ditch the actual studying and head outdoors to explore. Roop shares tips on how to stay locked in during exam season.

Canadians are going to hate me for rubbing this information in their faces, but London has had a glorious spring. In mid-March, it was 20 degrees, Hyde Park was the place to be, and picnics and BBQs were the thing to do.

When I arrived in London last year, the crisp autumn winds had already engulfed the city. While I got a chance to check out many museums, galleries, bars and Harrods (yes, Harrods deserves its own category), I didn’t get a chance to enjoy the great English outdoors.

So, naturally, I jumped at every sunny opportunity I got in March and April. I would wake up and my agenda would clearly say that a particular Saturday was dedicated towards transcribing an interview for my thesis. And if it was a glorious day, I would conveniently ignore my agenda, hire a Boris bike and go explore a new area of London with friends. And there are always new neighbourhoods to explore in London. Always.

Now, it’s April. I have less than a month to hand in my Masters thesis and I have just realized that I am really behind because I haven’t been following my agenda. Oops. It would only be fair to blame it on the good weather and all the exciting things happening in London, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am freaking out now.

Thankfully, along with that realization came bad weather. It’s forcing me to stay indoors and study.  However, I know it’s going to stop raining, the sun will come out (yup, it will; I checked the weather forecast) and I’ll still have about 10,000 words left to write. Meanwhile, I know other exchange students will have exams coming up soon and it’s only going to get hotter and sunnier all across Europe.

So, here are my tips (some serious, some not so much) to battle your innate wanderlust and focus on exams, dissertations or whatever other equally important projects you have ahead of you:

• Stock up your fridge with food and your pantry with coffee. Kill the temptation of giving into the great European coffee culture.

• Deactivate Facebook if it will help tackle your FOMO (fear of missing out). Or even better, rant on Facebook about your woes.

• Tidy up your room and desk. Seriously, it will help you focus better.

• Challenge yourself to finish a certain part of your essay or chapters of the books you are reading. When you are done, reward yourself with a pint on the patio.

• Instead of feeling envious about all the things you haven’t done in the great city you are living in, think about everything that you did do. Now, stop daydreaming and get back to studying.

• Buy thick, dark curtains. This way you won’t know if the sun is shining.

• Keep repeating: “I came abroad for studies. I am on this exchange for studies. Not travelling. I am on exchange for studies. I shall not let the super awesome festival this weekend distract me.”

And of course, if you have any other tips then please share them with me. It’s definitely a challenge not to head outdoors especially when you know your time abroad is limited.

Good luck in your exams, fellow study abroad folks!

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Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Roop Gill

After finishing her undergrad in Toronto, Roop Gill worked as journalist for a year. Giving into her wanderlust, she packed up her life in Canada and is currently doing a cross-continental MA through the Erasmus Programme that will take her from Denmark to Australia to England. She can’t understand how this happened, but she has managed to pick three of the most expensive places in the world to live as a student, but she is determined not to let that stand in her way of travelling.

Website: roopgill.com/

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