Trading America for Australia: figuring out how to not fail

Slow and steady wins the race when to comes to exams and studying, says Acacia in her latest blog post from Australia

November 22 2017

The past month has been a lot of work for me. It’s coming up to exam time and with that, of course, comes the inevitable stress, feeling like you never have enough time to do what you need, and for me, the consumption of many sugary sweets. Hey, your brain runs on glucose, right?

Having to study seriously for exams was pretty foreign to me until I started my doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) degree. When I was an undergraduate student I was one of those lucky people who didn’t really need to study much to do well in class. With a few exceptions, if I had an exam coming up I would count on giving myself a maximum of three to four days to prepare. This approach certainly worked, considering that my everyday life was extremely busy as an undergraduate. Between my two jobs, university clubs and classes, that was about all I could afford to dedicate to any upcoming exams.


Follow Acacia’s journey here

Trading America for Australia: my mother sent me to study 9,000 miles away!
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Trading America for Australia: finding student accommodation


However, in the DVM degree, if I was to try to pull that off I would crash and burn. To do reasonably in this degree (reasonably should be read as “to pass” considering that no one I know actually does “well” in this degree), I have had to undergo a serious mind shift and dedicate myself wholeheartedly to studying throughout the semester.

My first semester was undoubtedly my worst, but I give myself a pass on that one, telling myself, “you just moved to a new country and didn’t know anyone. You had to figure out how to get around and rent mostly on your own. You had to make new friends and get back into studying after having some time off working a real job. It’s okay that you didn’t do as well.” Now, in my fourth semester, I won’t say that I have everything completely under control but my study habits are certainly better than they used to be.

Now, starting at the beginning of the semester, I study for at least one-and-a-half hours from Monday to Saturday (leaving most of Saturday as a fun day) and then at least four hours on Sunday. When it comes to study vacation and finals week, all bets are off and I just squeeze in as much studying as I can, as most students do.

So far, this arrangement has seriously reduced my stress levels because it keeps me from falling too far behind. However, compared to some of my classmates, this schedule is a walk in the park. I have some friends who study three to four hours a night once they get home from a full day of classes or who are working multiple jobs at the same time. I know that if I tried that regime I would burn out too quickly.

If anything, I console myself with the fact that this crazy sprint only lasts about 10 days, and once the exams are over (and I pass), I can relax, go to the beach and sip on some drinks. That is, until I need to go on my next placement, but that’s a later problem.

Read more: 5 revision techniques to help you ace exam season (plus 7 more unusual approaches)

 

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