Letter from the future; Life hacks for students

A recent trip to a Chinese University campus took me down memory lane back to Novosibirsk Science Park campus, where I spent 5 years earning what is nowadays called a Bachelor degree. The vibe of student life and their loud music booming from the open windows plunged me back into the atmosphere of those days. But stop, it’s just my lunch break! In half an hour I’m supposed return to the office. And here I almost physically felt that difference, a feeling that drastically contrasts that of my current working life.

Ahh, the student world! Inspirational, bright, fulfilling and care free (careless!). Indeed, a wondrous flight of desperation. However, why then was I considering myself most overloaded with hardship back in those years? Tests, examinations, tones and hours of hieroglyphs, fanatical professors and of course, concerns about getting side jobs because enjoying the ride on a stipend was hardly possible for more than a week or so. There was little chance for saving.

And yes, not forgetting the problems of so-called “incompatibility” with the dorm roommates…

Dear!  I am talking to that overloaded girl student, Varya through the distance of time, by turning the clock backwards.

How are you back in the 2000’s?

Worrying, struggling to be the first at every scene?

Well then, I am in time.  Take a breath, pour yourself a cup of tea and listen to your voice from the future.

Think of taking examination time easier. It’s great if you managed to learn everything and be able to reel it off, but if not; a low score or re-test is not your personal loss. Of course, it’s all well and good to learn every emperor of all dynasties in order by heart, but the task of University is to teach us where to get the information from and how to analyze it. So, try to think more on the materials, formulate your own position and spend less time cramming.

And one more thing… As it turned out, Professors are humans too, and at times they are tougher on you than others just because they see more potential and want you to unearth it. They aren’t personal grudges that lead them to give to a low score; other students have to retake entire segments of the course.

And besides, to be a professor’s favourite is quite a burden, so enjoy your freedom from that!

Stop feeling embarrassed about your limited finances and basic life conditions. Be proud of it, be proud that you’ve got this experience of living in dormitory with the castoff on the walls, shared bathrooms, common conveniences and bunk beds. Objectively, it’s not going to last forever, you’ll look back at it as astronauts remember their stay aboard of spacecraft. Try to make the most of the situation. An opportunity for example, of knocking on all the doors on your floor to socialize, to ask for something and pass by acoustic guitar performance from half-familiar people down the hallway, when you walk to the stairs to the street. After 5 years, you will have to take a ride somewhere for the party to see things like that.

– Don’t be afraid to seem or look strange and have complex interests, views and choices: your «strangeness» only proves that you going to have a varied, interesting life. And who wants an ordinary life? Among adult opinion, almost no one. Modern world’s horizons have infinitely expanded, and variations of happiness have become limitless, as all the human behavior has increasingly evolved. Very possibly, your unusual interests will lead you to find a special niche profession in the future. So first of all be true to yourself, to your aspirations. And everyone will be rewarded according to their belief in the end, sooner or later.

– There is no task to find, choose or get a man of your dream or future husband confronting you during the years of study. Majority of my friends met their best matches in a few years of independent life after university. Stress of study affects relations as well, everybody keeps inner pressure: to get all the credits, to find a job, beat the competition, to get a good rating e t c. And the rest, in the grand scheme of things, supposed only to help to relax. So don’t go in with a bigger attitude straight away. Plus, student life style is tending, let’s face it, to the cult of nominal leaders, while later at work you will start notice and appreciate better informal leaders and careful people, who are actually more progressive and important for comfortable relations. When choosing between monotonous hieroglyphs, theoretical courses and passions while stressed, the latter will seem far more colorful and spectacular for time spending, but the results will not be cost-efficient or justify your energy. So relax and get yourself into archeological expeditions, debates, theatre, KVN comedy stand-ups instead or ideally – organize your own things in the campus or even outside in town.

– Get yourself to travelling and pursuing adventure more often and accept offers to participate in different meet ups and jobs outside the university, even if it compromises on budget and lectures. It’s not that you will see a certain building, City or mountain and not about spending time having fun with friends even. In these new situations there will emerge new sorts of conflicts, challenges and tasks, you’ll meet new types of characters of different ages, and you’ll learn to deal with them. As after graduation indeed you will not work with the classmates at all.

– I won’t tell you how important it is for the future to make friends in different spheres out of the university, you have done well with this. I’ll just say: don’t just push the problems and hidden conflicts in your close circle out of the room or brush it off. To chat with multiple people for 20 minutes through the day is easier than with 2-3 persons from morning to evening. Even if your friends already waiting somewhere and mobile phone is buzzing with the most interesting proposals, dedicate 5 minutes of genuine interest a day to the life of those who shares with you the desk in the class and especially to the dorm roommates, in a year these minutes will build helpful friendships so you will not have to compulsively search for new options every year again.

You do realize that the less you talk about what you need and the less you ask roommates and those close to you what they need, the bigger monsters you became in the minds of each other. Don’t hide behind the victim attitude, but don’t push with your point. Learn to be objective. Being emotional and creative types, it’s difficult to be objective, but we need it more than other personality types.

Moving ahead for about 10 years, I’ll say, things will go all well with you, but if in the hustle of busy days you are able to take into account and implement these simple life hacks, things will feel better. I know this firsthand, as I continually aspire to hunt down, track and pursue increased happiness. As (we) are always inspiring to improve.

Varvara Kotsebuk, December 2018