During my first year at university I put too much energy into establishing a student life in Amsterdam and in my second year, too much time into trying to compensate for it with long hours with my textbooks as company (although admittedly the lockdown also helped with this). Over time I realised that both extremes came about because I was so focused on either being the ‘perfect’ student or leading the ‘perfect’ student life. As much as it is a cliche, social media definitely had me comparing my experience as a student in Amsterdam to those of others. Every Thursday my study association had a student do an Instagram ‘takeover’ and every once in a while the UvA Instagram would have one too.
As every Thursday came around I would always find myself idealising the many perfect ways of being a student and comparing the students’ days and daily routines to mine. One week I was annoyed at myself that I didn’t go to the library at 9am every day and the next I was frustrated that I didn’t have a gym session or yoga class every morning before class. The week after I would be jealous that I didn’t have perfectly scheduled drinks with my friends every evening after studying and/or be exasperated that I still lived at home and these students looked like they were living it up with house parties every week.
Of course it is impossible for me as just one person to compare my day to day life to the lives of so many students with different expectations out of education, different hobbies and passions and in general different values to me. Nowadays I like to think that I have a more balanced approach to studying and even life in general. If I were to wake up on a given day and go for a morning walk, study 10-5 in the library and have something fun planned with friends afterwards that’s a really successful but rare day.
Most likely on the average day I might get half of my to-do list done for uni because I’ve had to pick up a shift for work, a family issue to attend to or a spontaneous meeting with a friend where we’ve talked for far longer than intended. That’s fine by me, because I’m working on embracing the fact that how my routine and my study habits ‘look’ don’t really matter as much as I thought and when I let go of the pressure to live a picture-perfect life, I end up enjoying what I do do in a day so much more!