By Chidinma Ibemere, PG, Education (Leadership and Policy) (MSc)
At the start of TB-2, a lecturer shared that there would be so much work for students to do after the Easter break; from battling with deadlines for assessments to getting the dissertation process in motion. I feel strongly that even if she had spent an hour explaining this fact that day, it would not be enough to describe the current realities.
Everything seems to be happening at the same time and the demands need equal attention. There are moments when I have to remind myself that it was my personal decision to advance my education, no coercion brought me here. Therefore, it has become imperative for me to keep pushing till I achieve my set goals. Is this as easy as it sounds? The answer is NO!!!!!
I have had the privilege of speaking with some students and without doubts, the pressure is evident. Sometimes, the best I can offer is a hug or a word of encouragement but there is only so much I can do. I genuinely look forward to when we can all rest from this phase, Amen!
As my token of encouragement to all students at the School of Education, I have decided to write this piece. I hope it helps you feel seen, better and inspired to keep showing up. Below are few tips I have put together for your reading pleasure, from my experience and knowledge gained. I hope you enjoy it.
- If you ever get to the point where you feel so overwhelmed, please, take a break. It is okay to pause, to breathe in. Doing nothing for a short time in order to recharge is one of my best ways of overcoming pressure. I understand that getting a degree is important however, my wellbeing matters too. My mantra is ’charge up in order to show up in your best version’.
- Dear scholar, you are not alone. As cliché as this sounds, it is not untrue. You may not necessarily find someone going through the exact things you are struggling with but in all honesty, there are various ways pressure is dealing with everyone. After my Leading and Managing Change in Education class on the 18th of April, I stayed back in class just to cry. Everything I had to achieve within the next one month stood before me. After this ‘precious’ moment of involuntarily getting my tear glands productive, I cleaned my eyes and reminded my humble self that a plate of white rice and stew was waiting for me at home. The radical switch in emotions still makes me laugh. Anyway, please, I think it is relaxing to be in touch with your emotions. It helps a great deal. When you have the urge to open up, to share your burden, please, do not hesitate. Gratefully, the school has a functional student wellbeing unit. Kindly reach out to them if you feel comfortable about it. Speak to your personal tutor for assistance. On the other hand, if you have trusted friends, you can also share what you are facing with them. You deserve all the support you can get on this journey.
- I am a Christian and reading the Bible is one of the ways I embrace calmness. There is always a scripture that resonates with my existing realities. Also, I believe so much in praying. this actually helps me deal with anxiety. Knowing that I have God who is not surprised I am existing, assures me completely. If you are a Christian, this can help too.
- The system has a way of taking all of you if you are not intentional about balance. I am certain that the leadership at the School of Education would be unhappy to find out that you allowed other aspects of your life to suffer loss all because you are getting a degree. Here are few suggestions to help you maintain balance:
- Actively participate in happiness: This could come in form of watching a movie that makes you happy, prioritising what matters, calling your loved ones, smiling or even crossing off a task from your to-do list. Other ways may include cooking your favourite meal, complimenting someone wholeheartedly, having a good rest, listening to a beautiful song, dancing without care etc. (Please, do well to add other things to this list, thank you).
- Count your blessings: Life has a way of masking the joys, successes and progress we have experienced in the past especially when things are not going as planned. Most people recommend having a gratitude jar or journal. Whatever works for you is fine. All that matters is that you are sincerely grateful for how far you have come. Think back to the time you applied for a place at the school, remember all you did that brought you here. As an international student, I can’t forget the tension associated with applying for visa and every other process along the way. Recounting all my successes, no matter how little they seem, gives me reason to believe that life may be dishing out lemons today, but a lemonade party is inevitable in the future.
I hope this would help you to know that you matter. I wish you the best as you show up always and in all ways. I am rooting for you. Remember, you’ve got this!!!
Sending hugs and much love all the way from BS37.
Your fellow Scholar,
At the University of Bristol, we appreciate that the challenges you may experience as a postgraduate student will be different to those of an undergraduate student. We are here to help you to anticipate the difficulties you may face and equip you with the tools required to thrive as a postgraduate student.
All master’s students have a Personal Tutor and all research students have a supervisor. They can help with any academic concerns and help your personal development. We provide a variety of support during your time at university this includes: A dedicated Residential Life and Wellbeing team, Student Health/GP service, Counselling, Student Funding team, careers services, disability services, International Welcome and Global Lounge, Multi-faith Chaplaincy, Bristol Doctoral College, PG network, Just Ask, Beactive and the Students Union.
We want you to get the most out of your time at the University of Bristol: to feel safe, supported and able to reach your full potential. For more information on the support available please visit: www.bristol.ac.uk/students/