3 Tips for Uni Readings

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Thanks to this blog for this quote!

Readings can be boring, confusing, and/or intimidating. Getting through them is a challenge for some, and just getting started is a burden for others. No matter how motivated you are, you’re probably asking yourself how you can do your readings more efficiently. Here are some techniques I’ve picked up over the years. Tell me what you think (and your own tips) in the comments below!

1. Read and absorb the conclusion (and subheadings)

The conclusion of a reading is all the important stuff, in short form. Before you read anything, read the conclusion to get a sense of what points the author is building up to. Another tip: also read subheadings! They’ll help you understand the main point behind every chunk of text.

2. Set a time limit

If you’re like me, it seems like your readings take an eternity to finish. Often I even zone out and stop absorbing what I’m reading altogether. You can help yourself stay motivated & on-task by setting a timer. For example, if you have 40 pages of readings, decide you will read as much as you can in 2 hours, and then move on to other things.

3. Look for concepts you’ll actually need

Course readings contain so much information, more than a final exam could ever test you on. Smart students don’t try to absorb everything, but instead they look for the info that matters. As you read, keep this question in mind: “what concepts will be important for an upcoming essay/exam?” Take it one step further by highlighting key terms (instead of whole paragraphs) for easier studying.

One last piece of advice: Patience

Reading quickly and efficiently takes practice, so here’s one last piece of advice: be patient with yourself. If you’re having a hard time at the outset, it probably means you’re doing it right.

An Unintentional Summer

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Summer Decisions

I’m an “intuitor” (is that a word)? I feel things out. I go with my gut.

I’m also a stubborn gal. If I can help it, I’ll always choose the opposite option as what my dad wants for me.

So as I was thinking out this summer, I was faced with a bit of a dilemma. The only option that sat right in my gut was the option my dad was rooting for: visiting family in Finland and Singapore. What!? My gut always disagrees with my dad.

Although this trip agreed with my intuition, it offended the things I value most. That is: accomplishment (I am a pro at finding resume-building opportunities), community (This summer I will be leaving behind a beloved camp community where I was extravagantly loved and really useful), and an identity of humanitarian suffering. This last one is perhaps the hardest to unpack.

Identity Crisis

You see, I idealize this archetype of the individual that suffers. I can’t remember who said it, but those of us who don’t seek an identity of extravagance/wealth/fame, seek out another identity in suffering.

This identity might seem more altruistic than the first, but it’s ultimately dysfunctional because it asks for something in return for service. It seems altruistic, but it’s completely conditional.

Anyways, the point is that I almost committed to working in the Global South with marginalized people. It was an impressive, seemingly-altruistic summer commitment, that would have been entirely selfish.

Flights booked, ready to go

Reflecting on the things I’ve been forced to loosen my hold of, I’m seeing more and more potential in my summer choice to go on this family trip. And here I am. My flights are booked, and my will fitfully surrendered to the direction ahead.

I’m a big advocate of the law of replacement (that is, if you want something out of your life, you must replace it rather than leave an empty space of a vacuum in your life), so these are the things I’m consciously grabbing hold of in Finland and Singapore:

Relaxation, because sometimes you can accomplish more in doing nothing than doing something.

Family time. It’s been 9 years or more since I saw my relatives in Singapore, including my almost 90 year-old only-living grandparent.

Heart growth. I want to find a mentor, walk the beaches, eat obscenely good food,  make music, laze about, and live at a different pace.

So cheers to a summer happened upon, completely unintentionally.

See you soon, Finland.

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Choice and a comic from Candy Chang

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The other day I was thinking:

I’m twenty years old + that is a young age to be.

The world is my oyster.

Heck.

I could have a baby.
I could backpack Europe.
I could study more to become a business consultant.
I could live as a nun and memorize scriptures for the rest of my life.

I’m at the crossroads of 100 different paths. Which do I take?

My friend Elissa Mielke blogged this Sylvia Plath quote the other day:

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It helped me realize how choice is burdensome.

And then I realized:

I need to start making some choices.

Agh! (A full week of panic/despair/list-making follows.)

One of my friends, Erin, often teases me for trying to conquer the parts of life that can’t be conquered (i.e. relationships, self-growth, the future). You have to live it in the moment, she says. You can’t “finish it” or “achieve it” in one thrust.

I often look for happiness in arriving (at a state of perfect circumstance, or something). It doesn’t work. Life starts now, and that is a beautiful, liberating thing.

Candy Chang’s comic (shared here with permission) is about how not having to choose one thing is a good thing. Read it if what I said is resonating.

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What choices are you struggling with? 

To read more about Candy, go visit her website. It’s rad.

“I don’t know what major/career/life I want.” Some advice.

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Don’t worry about your future if you’re undecided about your major/school/life in general. Can I say this enough?  Don’t worry. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.

No matter how certain some people seem, we’re all in the process of figuring it out. Study broadly (as the video below says), seize interesting opportunities, work hard, and things will fall into place. You don’t need to know everything right now.

This video is awesome. This guy has a realistic perspective on life. Watch it.

What are you undecided about? Is your indecision stressing you out?