How To Balance It All As An International Student

College can be incredibly overwhelming. From studying, to making new friends, to trying to stay healthy – there is a lot going on in a college student’s life at all times. When you add being from a completely different culture and sometimes even doing this all in a different language, college can quickly turn you into a stress ball. Do not panic, though. Through proper planning and time management, you can turn your college experience into the best four years of your life.

Set goals. Every semester make sure you write down everything you wish to accomplish. From joining a certain club to getting a scholarship, have clear and measurable goals. Make sure you put the list somewhere visible so you always remember what you’re working towards.

Plan ahead. These days there are so many options to organize your days, weeks, months and even years. From apps to physical planners, find a method that works for you. To make sure you’re always prepared, get into the habit of checking your planner/calendar/to-do’s the night before to make sure you know what to expect from the following day. Knowing where you need to be and when, as well as what you need to accomplish each day will make your life so much easier. Plus, getting your to-do’s, classes and events off your head will keep you from having to remember everything you’re supposed to do. If you’re old school and prefer a physical planner, we love these. If you love having everything on your phone or laptop we love Wunderlist, iCal (you can sync your Wunderlist to-do’s, Facebook events/birthdays and Google Events to it!) and myHomework app (for keeping up with assignments, projects and exams). Of course, always be open to spontaneous activities! Don’t get too caught up on the things on your calendar.

Make time to study but don’t study too much. School is important, obviously, but understand that college is not just about school but about the college experience. Be responsible and study what is necessary to get the grades you want but also make time to hang out with friends and make new ones. Ten years from now you will reminisce on the adventures you had rather than on the grade you got on your History paper.

Pick up a hobby. College can make you feel like your brain has hit maximum capacity. To take your mind off things and relax, learn how to do something new. Knitting, playing guitar, reading, listening to podcasts, yoga – anything!

Eat healthy. Never underestimate the power of fueling your body properly. When you eat better, you feel better. You don’t have to suddenly become a health nut but you can start by making better choices in the cafeteria. Listen to your body – what foods make you groggy and tired and what foods give you real energy? Understanding how your body reacts to certain foods will allow you to eat the foods that make you feel your best.

Stay active. Just like eating healthy, exercising also makes your body feel good. Plus, it reduces stress and helps clear your head. If you hate gyms or going on runs there are lots of other fun options. Most schools offer work out classes! Or, you can always go hiking on the weekends.

Practice mindfulness. Everybody is talking about the wonders of meditation but, how does one even begin to practice it? Start with an app! Breathe and Headspace both offer guided meditation sessions that will make you more aware and intentional throughout the day.

Journal. Make sure you’re checking in with yourself at least a few times a week. How are you feeling? What are you thinking? Write it all down.

Stay connected to home but not too connected. Make sure you’re talking to your friends and family back home and updating them on your life. But, there is such a thing as staying too connected to home. Make sure you’re not sacrificing the opportunity to hang out with new friends because you’re staying home every night talking with your high school bff on Facetime.

Take care of yourself. Know when to take a break and make time for you. It’s so easy to put ourselves at the end of our priority list but the sooner you realize that the better you feel (mentally, spiritually and physically) the better you perform, you will understand the importance of self care.

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