Being an international student comes with its own challenges and obstacles with classes, assignments, finances, and time management. While each person functions and adapts to their environment differently, there is always a set of traits or “hacks” everyone adopts in life to make it a wee bit easier. As a second year student in the master’s programme in Biomedicine here at KI, I have had over a year to develop certain routines and set in place certain systems to prioritise convenience while still being efficient. This blog exists to show you a few of those little tips and tricks that can go a long way.
No, I’m not talking about the prior reading you should do before lectures the next day (even I don’t always do that actually). I mean tweaking your everyday routine to maximise your level of preparedness for the next day.
For example, if you have to be somewhere on time, don’t just rely on one specific route to reach your destination. Have backup options ready in the back of your head in case something goes awry at the last possible minute. Here’s an actual practical use of that- if you live in Pax or Strix, it is likely that you take bus 507 to take you to the Solna campus everyday. Normally (at least in the mornings), this is a reliable way to reach campus. But if you’re new to KI and Stockholm, you need to know that if you miss the bus, you can take the metro (going to Kungsträdgården) and get off at Fridhemsplan. From there, follow the signs that indicate for bus number 3 and head towards the Fleminggatan bus stop (right outside the metro station). From there, you can take bus 3 (towards Karolinska Sjukhuset) or bus 77 (also towards Karolinska Sjukhuset). Make sure to check the direction the bus is going in!
A good piece of advice in general is to download the SL app to your phone and check it whenever you want to use public transport. It generally informs you of any delays and/or cancellations and gives you multiple routes to reach a destination. This way, you can choose between different alternatives rather than waiting indefinitely for a cancelled bus (personal experience, kids).
Another small way of ensuring preparedness is to dress weather-appropriately and check the next day’s weather on the night before. You can step outside the house in a knit sweater and find out that the temperature is 20°C. If you’re not wearing something thinner underneath and don’t have the time to go back and change, you’re in for a real suffocating treat. If you are like me and put more thought into your clothes than you probably should, then lay out your clothes the night before class. That way you can pick and choose to your heart’s content, check for wear and tear/stains and troubleshoot if needed, and steam/iron whatever you need to.
Also, as a general rule of thumb, always keep a jacket handy- you never know when you may need it.
In an academic setting, you probably know how to manage your time effectively. However, implementing time saving tactics into your daily routine can save you from a world of hassle.
Let’s take meal prepping as an example. Most of my friends cook food in bulk over the weekends and store them to take for lunch during the upcoming week. If this seems like a system that works for you, go ahead and use it. It never works for me. And it’s purely because I’m lazy. Last year, I used to wake up super early in the morning and simultaneously prepared my breakfast and packed my lunch. In theory, not a bad idea. But my single functioning brain cell takes 2-3 business days to wake up, so to say that I am thoroughly uncoordinated in the morning is an understatement. Furthermore, I can no longer be bothered to wake up so early anymore. Hence, a solution that has been working for me recently is this: I just double the portions of whatever I make for dinner. It can be pasta, it can be rice, it can be anything under the sun. I have one portion at night, and pack the other for lunch. This way, all I have to do in the morning is just take the lunch box out of the refrigerator and put it in my bag (I just reheat the food in a microwave on campus). This way, I spend only slightly longer in the kitchen making dinner, and don’t waste time and run to catch the bus in the morning.
Another way of managing time in the middle of a hectic schedule is knowing how to prioritise. If I have multiple deadlines and multiple things on my to-do list, I start by ranking them in the order of least to most time-consuming. From there, I tackle tasks that I can do within a few minutes and subsequently make my way through the list to finish it. For example, let’s say that I need to pay my rent, write a 1500 word essay, and make a minor correction to an assignment before resubmitting it. I know that I can pay my rent within 5 minutes, so I put that at the top of my list. Next, minor changes to an assignment don’t take very long to make, but saving those changes and resubmitting the assignment will take longer than paying rent, so I put this task second. Under normal circumstances, doing these two tasks one after another will take no longer than 20 minutes. That just leaves the essay, which I can dedicate all my time to now. Adopting this method ensures that I finish my work in a timely manner by making sure I don’t waste time focussing on only one task.
All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy. Studying in Sweden and especially KI generally means that you get weekends to yourself without classes or deadlines, while you can choose to spend those weekends however you’d like, it is also important to prioritise breaks in the middle of your weekdays. This can manifest itself in the form of an hour of unwinding after a full day’s class- don’t immediately prepare for the next day, don’t immediately start making dinner, don’t immediately jump to finish household chores. Give yourself the space to be absolutely useless for at least an hour after you get back home and utilise that hour to relax however you want. This could be a quick nap, a long shower, scrolling on your phone, talking to your family, or even curled up in a fetal position on your bed. Taking such breaks regularly may possibly prevent you from getting burnt out in the middle of the week.
At the end of the day, what works for me may not always work for you. This “list” may seem painfully obvious at first, but it is appalling how much we tend to overlook when we go about our hectic schedules everyday. So if you can, try implementing these little changes in your routine and see if they make your student life a bit more convenient.
Thank you so much for getting this far! If you have any questions, you know where to find me.
My name is Naomi, and I am from India. I am a master’s student in Biomedicine. I have always been drawn towards research and knew early on that a career built around it was the one for me. So as a result, here I am! I enjoy spending time with my friends and exploring the city with them (though the introvert in me also loves some alone time). I hope I can be of some help with my blogs!