Look outside of box for other ways of studying

Columnist and Columnist

One time, in the not too distant past while attending the University of Sheffield in Great Britain, I took a course on ancient philosophy.

As we approached finals, as we presently are nearing, it dawned on me that I had 14 days from my last class until my first final; as finals in Sheffield are broken among a three-week period.

As any hard-working and diligent student would do, I promptly booked a cheap flight to Germany and spent the next 13 days parading the Bavarian countryside.

I had a backpack with me. Stuffed inside were the essentials; a sleeping bag, a tent, some pretzels.

I did, however, have one curious item— small book of philosophic writings which were to be on the final.

For any that have not caught on yet, I studied for my final exam by backpacking, camping and hitchhiking southern Germany.

Here’s the thing, after several hours of enjoying myself, I ultimately sat down on a hillside across from the castle, had a picnic and read my book.

To my great fortune, the experience of exploring Germany left me in a very relaxed state, which significantly enhanced my studying.

The truth is, I spent relatively little time studying. I was not looking away to the future or the horizon. My mind was on where I was; what I was doing.

I finally returned to Sheffield and rocked that exam as though I was the incarnation of Plato; the author we were studying.

People who hear this story have often wondered how it was I did so well after putting forth so little attention.

The fact is, despite investing limited time, during the time spent studying, I was in the most opportune mindset to actively read and integrate the material to memory.

There is something very special about sitting on Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber’s famous city walls at sunset and reading philosophy. To this day, nearly two years later, I can vividly recall reading Plato’s “Crito” that evening and can speak fluently on the subject.

In general, we need to slow our lives down to live in the moment and appreciate the little things. Maintaining a proper mindset is enormously important for both travel and study as it allows a relaxed mind to attend to the task at hand with unparalleled focus.

I often hear negative thoughts and ideas directed at those who choose to spend portions of their time among leisure activities; including anything from playing video games with friends to weekend binge-fests.

All good things require moderation but to a certain degree, these people have it right.

Leisure activities, of any classification, are essential tools in establishing a healthy mindset and maximizing your efforts. Fortunately, these lessons are universal and learning to use them now is an important part of our college experience.

This is a stressful time; do yourself a favor. Do study and when you do so, study smarter.

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