A view of this lake got me through many a writing session.
I still remember walking across the muggy quad to my first college class. It was an 8:30 am required course that was coming after an orientation week that left me questioning all the choices that had led me to this particular juncture. I remember hoping that orientation was just a fluke and not what my college life would be like (it was indeed a fluke, in case you were wondering).
Sensing our first day jitters, my professor had us introduce ourselves and then spent the rest of class giving us advice to get us through our first semester. One of her tips stuck with me through my college career and is something that I wish I had thought of sooner: find your place. Your literal, physical place. She encouraged us to explore campus and find a couple of good quiet spots where we could go to study, read, or simply spend some time alone.
One of the hardest parts of the first week of college was the virtual disappearance of "me time"—having a roommate meant that my dorm wasn’t necessarily “my space” like my room back home had been. I decided to follow my professor’s advice and spent a few weeks trying out different spots around campus. Doing this early on helped me in the long run. I began to realize that the way I had studied in high school wasn’t actually working for me. In high school, I often found myself doing my homework in my room, getting easily distracted and often became frustrated when a simple assignment ended up taking up more time than expected.
Following my professor’s advice, I figured out that I can’t work in my room. I began to key in on the idiosyncrasies of my learning style. I could do math in slightly noisier rooms, like the lobbies of our academic buildings. I could work on my Chinese assignments at a coffee shop, but if I was writing a research paper I needed a deathly quiet table on the fourth floor of our campus library (first table on the right side with a clear view of the lake).
Knowing what kind of environment you learn and work best in is so important. Take some time, whether you’re in high school, college, or at any other point in your journey, to discover what helps you do your best work. Maybe you need to listen to the same song over and over while you hash out formulas, or maybe you need to write lines of code on a white board instead of on your computer—whatever it is, find what makes you most effective. Embrace your unique learning style—it saves a lot of time and maximizes your effectiveness. And I mean, who doesn’t want more free time these days? Good luck finding your (literal) place!