During orientation, the plethora of opportunities available at HGSE was compared to a buffet. The key to having a good experience at a buffet, we were told, was to sample a little of everything while making sure not to overeat. At the time I heard this speech, I just felt hungry – come on, orientation is really exhausting – but now that we’ve begun our second and final semester at HGSE, I can really appreciate this advice as I try to find balance.
How to Enjoy the Buffet
1. Take breaks between courses
My key to feeling refreshed and constantly motivated is to take a day off each week. During that day, I don’t read emails or do homework or worry about finances. Instead I socialize, read books for fun, go for walks in my pretty Brookline neighborhood, nap, feast, and then nap some more. By the next day, I look forward to getting back to work, and I’m more productive as a result. (The NY Times recently shared this sentiment in the opinion piece Relax! You’ll Be More Productive.)
2. Make sure to sample a little bit of dessert
I recently attended a college sports game for the first time ever and I also saw cheerleaders for the first time. As an immigrant and first-generation college student, this was pretty exciting. It may seem obvious that having some fun is important for finding balance, but as the work piles up and you become entrenched in student organizations, internships, and job searching, it’s easy to forget to enjoy the fun that Harvard and Boston has to offer.
3. Share the experience with someone
My husband has a spouse library card (only $5!), so he often uses Gutman Library as his workspace. That means in the midst of all of my homework, I always have someone with whom I can chat, joke, and reflect about my experiences, which really makes things less overwhelming. (More spouse awesomeness: they can audit a course for free at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.)
Finally, to take this buffet analogy even further, just when you think you couldn’t possibly take so much on your plate and still finish it all, you find that thanks to all of this balance you’ve achieved, you can indeed finish your plate – or, you know, get As.