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Updates and reflections on finding balance…

Hej hej! It’s getting even more chilly here in Stockholm – I cannot leave my dorm without my down vest and my thick sweater (which unfortunately shrunk in the dryer because I left it in for too long).

I have also gotten even more comfortable with the public transportation system here in Stockholm. Thanks to Google Maps and a lot of practicing (and panic-finding bus stops). Honestly I know I am going to miss the ease of transporting around the city when I head back to the US.

I have also gotten incrementally better with my Swedish. I switched my phone’s primary language to Swedish to force myself to learn faster, and I have been trying (as much as I can) to order in Swedish. Although four months are not long, I want to make the best use of my time here and learn as much as possible.

But onto some more serious and raw reflections, I have been quite burnt out lately. I have been juggling academics, exploring Sweden, family obligations, hanging out with friends and new people, part-time work, and rest (and updating this blog!) Honestly, it has been quite difficult having enough time to do it all, despite already trying my best to be intentional with how I am spending my time. There just seems not to be enough time for everything. I hope your study abroad experience is much more relaxing than mine, but in case you’re in a similar boat, you’re not alone~ And hey, may my experience be a reminder to you that: it’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to not know how to navigate through all your competing wants. And you’re not alone in feeling stressed out. There is a lot to figure out – being in a new country with limited time to do the bazillion things on your bucket list or simply, just getting adjusted and finding your routine.

After spending some time figuring out what to do, here are some small steps I am taking, maybe you know some or most of it already, but hopefully this serves as a little reminder or affirmation that – hey, we all struggle sometimes (or a lot of the times).

First, figuring out my priorities and sticking to them. Coming to study abroad, I had some of my priorities in mind. But it is after living for a couple of weeks that the conflict between all my responsibilities and want-to-dos surfaces. Figuring out what matters to me has helped me decide how to spend my time, and realize what needs to go or be cut short. Oftentimes, I ask myself: Is this something important to me? How will I feel about doing or not doing this activity? The answer to those questions would help me prioritize, and motivate me to stick to my goals and my corresponding plan.

Priorities could also change from time to time, maybe day-to-day, but usually week-to-week for me. Life has been a bit chaotic this past month, so starting this week, I am dedicating some time to do an overview of the week (either on my physical planner or Google calendar) of how I am going to spend my week: are their chunks of time in the week where I can dedicate to some big tasks?

Moreover, priorities would also dictate how much time I would/should dedicate to each task/activity. I tend to overspend time on tasks, but I am learning and practicing doing things just for completion if it is not as important to me, cutting it short if need be. Ideally, I would be able to focus and be efficient, doing my best work within the shortest time, but sometimes, it just doesn’t work as well as I would like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .

Second, finding working environments (time and place) that work for me. I prefer working in coffee shops, as opposed to DIS, libraries, or our student housing. Not only the coffee shop ambiance helps me focus the most, but it also allows me to explore the coffee scene in the city, so I feel like I am getting two things done at once. (I will probably do a blog on all the work-friendly cafes I have been to sometime mid-semester, stay tuned for that.) And switch it up if you need it!

I used to be a night owl, but I have since then shifted to waking up earlier and completing my tasks early in the morning or in the afternoon. I have been trying to stick to a consistent schedule: sleeping around midnight and waking up early to work. It depends on the environment you are in, but early mornings have been relatively quiet. Plus, I get a great view of the waterfront. The featured image at the top of this post was taken at 7 am one of those mornings!

Third, taking things one at a time. I tend to spiral, panic and paralyze when I have a lot on my plate. So one thing I have to practice a lot during these busy seasons is to take things one at a time. Instead of “I am so busy I cannot get anything done”, I have to intentionally choose to tell myself “a lot is going on, okay, what should we prioritize and focus on now?” Sometimes I would slip and worry about and try to complete five things at once – but it never works and only make me panic even more.

Forth, set aside time to take care of yourself. I need time to journal and reflect, hang out with close friends, some consistent amount of sleep, etc., to feel taken care of. So I have to factor in these “non-work” related tasks in my planning.

Fifth, be realistic. Oops – this is a hard one for me. It’s always hard for me to turn opportunities and responsibilities down. But, at the end of the day, I am studying abroad, and I am still a student. I have limited time and part of figuring out my utmost important priorities and responsibilities is figuring out what needs to go. At the end of the day, we all have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I am pushing my capability through these seasons of more responsibilities and needs but also learning to be okay when I need a break and take things off my plate.

These are just some small, personal steps I am taking. Figure out what works for you and stick to it!

Before I go, here is a picture of the flat white I got for this afternoon:

Isn’t it adorable? It was totally the fuel to this blog 😉

Anyways, take care and vi ses!


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