Writer: Mika A.
Editor: Trang D.
University life can be exhausting. We, students, tend to always crave adventures and it seems like 24 hours a day is not enough for us. We sometimes feel like it is almost impossible to balance every aspect of a student’s life. I, myself, am also struggling to balance my personal, social, and academic life. I can hardly give you any advice. However, what I can do is share with you a small research I did and stories of some of the excellent students in TIU who have been succeeding in balancing almost all of the aspects of a university student. If you’re interested, please continue reading!
Although joining extracurricular might seem stressful to some students, research has shown that joining extracurricular activities improves work-life balance and even academic performance. It is also said that these activities develop stronger relationships and a positive impact on self well-being and allow proactive learning (King, McQuarrie, and Brigham, 2020). Furthermore, the research also explored how extracurricular activities would improve cross-cultural awareness, especially in a diverse environment. It is clear that joining some extracurricular activities would generally improve the well-being of a student. The research also asked about the reasons why the students participated in extracurricular activities. The result pointed out that such participation is students’ strategy for coping with their personal stress and motivation, and creates a sense of belonging in their university and overall satisfaction with their university life (King, McQuarrie, and Brigham, 2020). Aside from the research, Gill (2019) gave tips on the 4 ways to balance academics and extracurricular activities. It is suggested that one’s first and foremost priority should be Academics. The second tip is developing a timetable, since having extracurricular activities might cause scheduling conflicts during finals. Another tip the writer suggested is being picky about extracurricular activities. Joining clubs is fun and in case you might be interested in at least three clubs, remember that you still have other things to do. Choose what truly interests you and benefits your personal growth. Lastly, Gill emphasized on taking breaks. While having fun with extracurricular activities and getting A’s being your personal goal, overdoing it will definitely exhaust you. You could be drained and have a hard time recharging.
Aside from the research above, I also interviewed some fellow TIU students about their ways of managing schedules and maximizing life as a university student. I asked Vicky, Hai, and Annie who are all currently in their third year, from Vietnam and major in Business and Economics.
What are your extracurricular activity involvements and also part-time jobs (if you have one)?
Vicky: I am currently part of the Mellow Dolphin Club since 2019, a Jazz Orchestra band and I play piano in it. Before the pandemic, we used to perform every month. I am also currently working at a chain restaurant.
Hai: I am part of TIU Model United Nations, a varsity club in our university. We hold MUN conferences and also participate in national conferences. I am also participating in TEDxTIU, another varsity club that organizes TEDx events. Concurrently, I am working as a university intern at English Plaza where we create an environment for students to relax, make friends and grow while using English.
Annie: I worked at Tomonokai, Co. Ltd in Tokyo Japan as an International Senior Buddy where I help synthesize cultural knowledge and prepare slides about 30 countries’ traditions for over 1000 students. I am also a virtual local buddy in ABROADER, co-founder and organizer in BETTO English Club and EV Trust Program Coordinator. At the same time, I also work part-time in Daito Kentaku Partners as a customer service staff and interpreter.
Why did you join extracurricular activities or multiple clubs?
Vicky: For Mellow Dolphin, I joined out of curiosity. During the orientation, they were very welcoming to people and they also accept E-track students, which I found really interesting. Initially, I only knew the basics of the piano, then I was able to gradually play better and better thanks to my “senpais.” Also, I find it a great opportunity since I never had a chance to perform on stage before. For my part-time job, it helps me financially and also gives me a chance to practice my Japanese skills.
Hai: Essentially, I like things that I am already familiar with and staying in my comfort zone, which sometimes cause setbacks in self-development. I used to be bad at self-evaluating so I decided to go out there, join things I am really interested in. I joined TIU MUN since I am interested in public speaking and debate. As for the English Plaza, I joined out of a friend’s recommendation that I would have a good learning experience there. As for TEDxTIU, I joined because of my interest in TED talks and finance.
Annie: I joined extracurricular activities because it is a good learning opportunity that allows me to share my experience with other people. I also get to teach English while at the same time do volunteer work. For my part-time job, I get to experience the environment of a large corporation which will be beneficial for me in my future career.
How do you balance your university life?
Vicky: I do not have specific plans and I am very flexible though it may seem hectic. I always put academics as my top priority especially during the pre-exam period, and I always have at least 3 days off for studying and resting as well.
Hai: In reality, I do believe that you have to sacrifice something among academics, personal, and social lives. I think we just need to be good at rotating these three aspects and learn to say “no” especially when we are feeling tired or drained. Always take time to prioritize our physical and mental health and also hobbies. I do believe rest is important as a refreshment for anyone. To me, rest is when I catch up with my friends, watch movies, listen to music, and read novels.
Annie: For me, I follow the scientific way of having adequate sleep every day. It is important for me to be able to perform all of the important aspects of life at their maximum. I also set a fixed date devoting to specific extracurricular activities, studies, and other jobs. Wednesdays are solely for extracurricular activities, and the rest of the week will be allocated to other activities I am involved in.
From the interview, I realized that these people try to keep a balance between work and rest, which was also emphasized in the research. I always thought that such excellent students would sacrifice rest in order to manage their schedule wisely. But it seems that including “rest” as part of their priorities is vital. Humans cannot work non-stop and need to constantly recharge to function well. Hopefully, after reading this article, you were able to pick up some tips that can be useful. If you’re not yet a part of any club but interested to join, you can check out the school’s website or timesoftiu.com for more information.
Gill, J. (December 16, 2019). 4 Ways to Balance Academics and Extracurricular Activities. Forté. Retrieved from: http://business360.fortefoundation.org/4-ways-to-balance-academics-and-extracurricular-activities-2/
King, A. E., Fiona A. E. M. & Brigham, S. M. (2020). Exploring the Relationship Between Student Success and Participation in Extracurricular Activities. SCHOLE: A Journal of Leisure Studies and Recreation Education 36, 1-2, 42–58. https://doi.org/10.1080/1937156x.2020.1760751