a woman is seated on a bench, texting, in one of the quads of the Catholic University in Santiago

Studying in a University Where I Know No One

When was the last time you went to a library by yourself? For some, that’s actually the best way to study. Personally, I like studying with my friends because we keep each other accountable to our study goals and deadlines. Call me unfocused but studying by myself when I don’t have serious pressing work to do is tough. So, as you can imagine, studying in Santiago has been a bit of a challenge not only because I’m not used to studying by myself all day every day but because I’m not used to being by myself all day period. Here are some things I've been doing to help me cope with the *solitude* and focus:

I've learned to rely on myself

I find it useful to produce a weekly schedule and stick to it. Even if no one is waiting on you at the library, you have study goals that you want to meet. I write mine down the night before and read them aloud when I wake up for that extra motivation.

I study in small but busy libraries

The library closest to my house is convenient because of the short commute but it’s big and pretty empty. I find that I focus better when there are people studying around me. So, now I extend my commute by half an hour to study in a busier library. The added commute time is offset by increased productivity.
Empty tables and chairs outside. On the table closest to the camera there is a laptop and coffee.
I focus better when there are people around me studying

I am a regular at the campus coffee shop

If you’re like me, you don’t like going through the entire day without saying a word. So, I am now a regular at the campus coffee shop and I take advantage of every opportunity to socialize with the very friendly staff that works there. Honestly those brief but refreshing social interactions have become something I look forward to. Sad, but also nice.

Phone conversations with friends over lunch

I am extremely lucky that Santiago happens to be in the same time zone as Toronto. So, when I’m eating lunch, chances are that my friends or family members are too. I FaceTime my friends as much as I can during my study breaks and catch up!

I talk about my studies

If you’re abroad it’s because you’re doing something very cool! Be proud of your work and talk about it with someone. Talking about my progress has helped me stay focused on my goals and motivates me to keep up the hard work.

Treat Yo Self

Reward systems are great. I love rewards and it’s not because I am alone that I am not going to reward myself for a good day of solid studying. Whether it’s a desert, a nice walk, or that Office episode I want to rewatch for the tenth time: Treat Yo Self   Listen: My Go-to album for great study tracks

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