Work-Life Balance on Exchange?

The term “Work-life balance” is increasingly used to describe a fully employed adult, who drudges through an 8-hour work day, but also is able to come home to spend time with their spouse and children. While I am FAR from this lifestyle, the longer I spend on exchange, the more I realize that this description can be applied to my experience as well— definitely minus the husband and kids. In a snapshot, here’s how I’d divide my study abroad program:
  1. Learning about Parisian life.
  2. Finding my place in Paris, through celebrating my independence and curiosity.
  3. Establishing my network of friends here.
  4. Attending classes, learning about the French curriculum and a different style of teaching.
  5. Completing homework.
  6. Making use of extra-curriculars and events that my school hosts.
  7. Connecting with friends and family back home.
  8. Exploring France.
  9. Embarking on adventures in the surrounding countries and building bonds with whom those I travel.
Over the past three weeks I’ve adjusted to life here, while focusing on the above categories. Although during orientation week, as an extrovert in social heaven—making a few too many friends— I pushed myself pretty hard. Now with a head cold and a mountain of work to complete this week, it's evident that I need to balance my responsibilities, even whilst on exchange. This leads to my mantra of having a “Work-life Balance,” which doesn’t have to mean foregoing any of the “life” category, merely adding further emphasis to the schoolwork side of things. This might seem like a ‘no-brainer’, but with all my classes being pass/fail, one must motivate themselves to work harder. I’m fortunate that my courses are focused, interesting and made up of not more than 30 students, which stimulates discussion and my familiarity with the subject. I’m extremely grateful to have the opportunity to study in France, so this isn’t to say that I take anything for granted, just that sometimes it’s necessary to slow down and evaluate where I stand. These check-ins are useful not just in this context, but also throughout the busyness of life at U of T. Amidst the stress of midterms, I urge you to step back and pause to figure out where you are and where you want to be! Enough corny motivation for now. Until next week- R

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