What’s done is done!
That is what I tell myself as soon as I leave the exam hall. Whether I think the exam went well, went okay, or went badly, I leave the building reminding myself to move on and do the next thing. I go home, take a shower, a nap, and have a hearty meal to replenish myself for all the hours of intense study. If I have more exams, I let my impressions of the exam motivate me to work harder at understanding and not merely memorising material for the next exam. If it’s the last of my exams, I think about my next steps or whatever else I look forward to, which brings me to my next post-exam wind-down technique.
Incentives. It’s important to incentivise yourself at every step of the way in your time at university. Deferring gratification when trying to develop self-discipline and consistent study habits, reminding yourself of how worth it all the effort will be when you throw your graduation cap in the air. Forcing yourself to study for X number of hours before you read that chapter of that book you just can’t put down, or watch that next episode on Netflix. These short-term and long-term incentives are helpful, but it’s good to have mid-term incentives too. After exams, this year, I hope to be enjoying some exotic food and culture, as well as getting a vitamin D boost, somewhere in the Mediterranean. I also look forward to chipping madly away at my nearly 2000 book-long to-read list, although I already sneak a chapter of fiction in on my study breaks. Most of all, I can’t wait to catch up with family and friends back at home in London. As I did lots during my year out from university, I didn’t apply for any internships this time around as I want to focus on catching up on my studies and preparing myself for Final Year, but I will continue working as an enquiry management assistant at the university to earn some money over the summer. I will also have to spend some time thinking about what I want to write about in my dissertation, as well as what I want to do immediately after I graduate, so I already have plenty on my hands for the summer.
As important as it is to enjoy the extensive time off while you still have it as a student, it is important also to not waste it. So, watch some Netflix, but not too much of it. I have friends who will be doing industrial placements and internships, while others will be volunteering or studying abroad. Some people choose to work the whole of summer, others travel, and some – like me – do both. Whatever you do, think through it and plan well, so that you ensure that you are using your time wisely. You don’t want to develop habits that will hinder you in your next phase of life, whether it be full-time work or the next stage in your education. Hence, for me, I want to be as prepared as possible to put my best foot forward in 3rd Year. So, I hope to fill in as many gaps in my knowledge as possible. In saying that, however, it is also not wise to burn myself out before September.
As with all things, it’s about moderation and balance. Work proportionately to your commitments, and rest proportionately to your work. Above all, enjoy the journey! Learn from every experience and savour every moment. After all, you’re only ever going to be an undergraduate student (for the first time) once!