Lessons from spending just under one year at this university are quite a handful, no doubt about that. But some of them are non-technical and common across all students, and have themes that are quite salient! This post tries to capture one of them – stress.
Stress, in general
That the TU Delft is a place where you need to deal with a lot of academic stress, is but a truism. This video also provides some insight into opinions people have on this topic. Irrespective of which faculty you’re at or which course you’re following, there’s no doubt that you’ll be burdened with loads of assignments and projects every quarter, and every student you come across at the library or at any place where collective studies take place will have a similar academic script to read. “Huh, so it’s not just me who’s so stressed!” is (unfortunately) a very common thought to occur to lots of students!
My personal opinion is that having a quarter system (with just over two months to wrap up an entire course) puts a huge burden on students’ brains. This, coupled with the fact that students stay away from the comfort of their homes, have to be on the hunt for accommodation, have to deal with the weather, and find little or no time for themselves, is a really bad recipe for mental health and needs to be addressed.
And of course, dealing with it
However, there’s always something that can be done about it! Talking with your peers, talking to faculty members, attending relevant career and counselling sessions can certainly help get one through these seas – but the most important part is communication. People work in isolation, don’t ask for help at the right time, keep pushing despite having minimal efficiency, and it all ends up in a vicious cycle of poor performance and stress! Being self-aware and careful planning of studies are really crucial aspects of working it out well.
There are several techniques that could help – using a Pomodoro timer, judicious use of Google Calendar and the like to carefully assign working slots to oneself, consciously avoiding multitasking, and so on – it all depends on the individual, and there is no one way about it! But at the end of the day, the mind is not a processor, and it does need some time to relax too…
In a previous blog post, I mentioned running as an antidote to stress. Unsurprisingly, as with anything else in life, there are plenty of other choices available! A ton of events take place at X (the erstwhile Sports and Culture center), several meetups and cultural/music events take place in and around Delft, the summers see a lot of barbecues by student associations, there’s always a possibility of taking a long (bike) trip to some far-off Dutch towns, and so on – and all of these are just a handful of examples of possibilities! There’s always more to discover and possibly invent too!
Personally, I’ve really started appreciating meditation and yoga as means not only to deal with stress but also as life habits that are worth cultivating. Moreover, having gone through some terrible sleep habits for quite some time, I believe quality sleep should be made one of the most important priorities in student life (which is otherwise notorious for endless all-nighters)! Sleep does have a big impact on one’s day and a chronic lack of it can have some really harsh consequences!
All that being said, it’s always easier said than done. But what’s the harm in making a start? Conscious efforts are key to getting things done, and all that’s needed is a little push!