Towards the end of high school I began to feel stressed about deciding on my future. Where was I going to go to college? The clock was ticking and I had to make a decision - soon! Most of my friends applied to colleges abroad and were planning to leave the islands. When it was time to finally decide, I chose to pursue a degree in medicine at home in Trinidad. For me, going to college at home was the best decision from a financial standpoint.
Was I psyched at first? Absolutely not. But I sucked it up and accepted my reality. My thoughts going into college were that I’d be stuck at home and would never get that “true college experience” that my friends were about to have, but in reality this couldn't have been further from the truth.
Now that I'm nearing the end of my medical school tenure, I look back on my experiences and know that I made the right choice and found ways to make it work in my favor.
I've been in medical school for 4 years. In May I'll be entering my last year (finally). I’ve learnt that university life is full of ups and downs. At times, I feel really defeated knowing that most of my friends are done with school and have their careers while I'm still here earning my first degree (for what seems to be a lifetime). I often feel like I made the wrong choice and I could've chosen a different path.
However, I’ve learnt to cope with the many stresses that come with university life. To make it through, I try my best to maintain my spiritual, mental, physical and social well being.
Here are some things that helped me living local in college:
Who’s got your back?
Having a strong support system is very important. There'll always come a time when you feel down and need someone to reassure you that you’re going to be okay and you’ll make it to the end. My parents are the foundation of my support system. No matter the time of day - if there's a problem they’re always there for me. Secondly, my friends, who I now consider family, are also a huge part of my support system. We’ve created some strong bonds over the years and because of these friendships I’ve learnt to be more independent and responsible. Together we've learnt to better handle tough situations. Having the right group of friends really made me change my perspective on staying in Trinidad.
Keeping the faith -
For me, spirituality plays a big role and sets the foundation for maintaining my social, physical and mental wellbeing. It doesn’t matter who or what you believe in. For me it gives me the strength to make it through another day. I always start off my day by giving thanks for life, health and the ability to see a new day. Being spiritually grounded helps me to get through any difficult situation. It just gives me a sense of reassurance and calmness. When I feel down or I just need some motivation, I listen to this.
Exercise is key -
Along with struggling with mental wellbeing, many people including myself, struggle with maintaining physical health. I have my moments when I try to exercise to be about that “fit life” and other times where I just couldn't be bothered. I will admit, the times when I do exercise I feel 100% better. I found that exercising helps me cope with stress, depression, sleep and it helps me study more efficiently. Now, I make it my duty to incorporate a little exercise into my daily routine. Here are some mobile apps that have been really helpful in keeping my physical health on track 1. Fitness Pal and 2. Fitgirls App.
Take a breather!
Breaks are soo necessary. Sometimes college can really get to you and your stress levels go through the roof but no matter what, you need to try to maintain your composure. One way that I do this is by taking different types of breaks. I see so many people around me succumbing to severe stress, which can cause physical, mental or emotional damage. College becomes such a huge deal to some people and they never stop to take breaks or de-stress. Taking a break simply means making time to do something that you enjoy, whether it’s going to a party, taking up a hobby or just simply hanging out with friends. Apart from these things, I’ve also joined clubs at school to become more involved. It’s important to have a side hustle or passion project to do besides school, and it’s a good de-stressor.
Ending my relationship with procrastination -
Lastly, as a university student time management is vital. I can’t stress this enough! If you don’t manage your time properly you may often feel extremely stressed. I have found myself becoming overwhelmed many times, especially in my earlier years of university, because I left assignments and studying till the last minute.
With time, I learnt to manage my time better, and though I still find myself being overwhelmed with studying for exams (because I obviously love to procrastinate) it’s a work in progress. As I enter my final year of university, I plan to make it my mission to get it right.
Contributor: Daniella T.
I'm currently finishing my 4th year of medical school. Medical school can be challenging, sometimes I get so stressed I want to pull my hair out! But, at the end of the day I couldn't imagine myself doing anything else with my life. The fact that I've been given the opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives is my driving force throughout this obstacle course of my college experience. I am thankful that I've been given this opportunity and I will be forever grateful for those who have stood with me.