Preparing For the Semester Ahead: 5 Things to Remember

It’s a brand-new semester and academic year! Whether you are a freshman excitedly entering into the new world of university, or a slightly less excited senior hoping the new semester treats you well, all of you have one thing in common: wanting to do your best and make the most of your time in the coming semester. At least we hope that you do!

Here at Reslife, we’ve come up with 5 simple but important things you can remember as you prepare for a great semester ahead. Let’s dive straight into them!


1. Work Hard but Remember to Take Care of Yourself

It’s safe to say that a key priority of every university student is to do well in all their modules and graduate with a good CAP. However, all too often we sacrifice sleep, meals, and even our social lives for the sake of putting in extra effort into our assignments. Working hard is important, for it shows that we are being a good steward of the opportunities that have been given to us. But as for all things in life, achieving a balance is important. Even as we work hard, we must take care of both our physical and mental well-being, lest we get overwhelmed and burn out.

One way to achieve this balance is to plan your time in advance. Be it a physical planner, or an online planner like Google Calendar or Notion, use it to block out enough time to complete your assignments while also scheduling in breaks (Yes – include your breaks in your schedule as well!).

Use Google Calendar to schedule breaks and block out time for assignments

This minimises the likelihood of you pulling all-nighters to meet deadlines, as well as ensures that you’re setting aside time to rest and spend with the people you care about.

Remember – your physical and mental health are not secondary to your assignments; they are on par for importance!


2. Find Good Friends and Be a Good Friend

When the going gets tough, it’s the friends around us who make the journey a little more bearable. This is why it’s important to surround yourself with friends who will be there for you through thick and thin. These are the people who can lift your spirits just by being around you, the people who remind you not to sleep too late because they care deeply about you, and the people whom you can always count on for a fun time or a warm conversation.

Good friends remind us to take care of ourselves!

It takes two hands to clap, so remember to also be to your friends all that they are to you – encourage them, support them, look out for their physical and mental well-being, and let them know how much they mean to you. Aim not to just have friendships of proximity and convenience that don’t stand the test of time, but friendships that can last through the ages.

Supper picnic outside the lounge at CAPT

If you’re wondering how you might find and build friendships, one way is to make an effort to participate in the exciting activities your residence has to offer. There are so many interesting people to meet, and incredible friendships that have yet to be formed!


3. Make a Budget and Don’t Overspend

Living on campus might be a little more expensive than just staying at home. For example, you can no longer enjoy the groceries and snacks your parents buy, or use the washing machine and printer for free. You might sometimes also want to bless your friends with bubble tea, or participate in residential events like Angel and Mortal and night-cycling. All these little expenses do add up, so it’s important to create a budget and spend within it. This way, you won’t be shocked when you look at your bank account after the semester is over, and you’ll also learn to plan and manage your finances.

Using a budgeting app is a great way to keep track of your money. Popular budgeting apps include Buddy for Apple phones, and Monthly Budget Planner for Android phones.

Simply create some categories of expenses and think about how much you want to reasonably limit yourself to spend in each of those categories (eg. Printing -$5, Laundry – $8, Food – $200, Transport – $30, etc.). Remember to also factor in how much you want to set aside to save. Every time you make a transaction, record it in the app and the app will show you how much you have left to spend in each category, reducing the likelihood of you overspending.

Creating Budget Categories Using the Buddy App

Living on campus is a great opportunity for you to start taking charge of your personal finances, so take this time to plan ahead and learn to be a good steward of the resources provided to you.


4. Set Goals

Everyone knows about goal setting, but not everyone does it enough to reap the benefits. Goal setting is important for helping you visualise where you want to be at the end of the semester, and providing you with the steps to get there. The problem is that we often feel the pressure to set lofty goals, and we get discouraged when we cannot meet them. New Year resolutions, anybody?

If you have a large goal in mind, it often helps to break it into smaller goals to act as steps leading up to the main goal. Instead of setting a goal like “Get A for all modules”, maybe try smaller, more manageable goals like, “Submit all work on time”, or “Don’t miss any lectures”.

Goals this writer set (and met! 😅) after reflecting on her first semester in Year 2

Try not to set too many goals as well – two to three small goals is enough. This way, you can remember what your goals are and focus on achieving them. Small steps are better than no steps at all!


5. Have Fun!

Last, but perhaps most important – remember to have fun! University, and especially living on campus, is so much fun. Don’t just focus on studying – step out of your comfort zone and try new things, get to know your neighbours, make lifelong friends, and create memories you can look back upon fondly. You’re not going to remember the hours spent alone cramming for exams, but you will remember the time you stayed up talking with your friends until the sun rose, the epic Angel and Mortal pranks, and the feeling of warm friendship surrounding you as you chatted with your friends over supper.

Fun Memories: Angel & Mortal pranks, staying up to watch the sunrise

This opportunity to live in school and have fun with your friends is not going to last forever, so don’t take it for granted. Allow yourself to enjoy it as best as you can.

House dinner in CAPT (taken before COVID-19)

If you ever find yourself getting a little lost as time goes by, may you hold onto these 5 reminders, recalibrate, and refocus on what is important. The road ahead may seem long, and there will be ups and downs, but take a leaf out of Muhammad Ali’s book and don’t count the days – make the days count. Here’s to a great semester ahead!


Are there other important tips that have helped you make the most of your semester?  Tell us in the comments or DM us on IG @nusresidentiallife!


Bethany Low

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