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For many universities, the new semester is just around the corner. It’s the time when the newly-registered ‘freshies’ or ‘freshers’ as well as returning students would be looking at how they can fully utilise their time during the semester to fulfil another part of their studies and to graduate within the time set.

For some, they would need to juggle the many different things that they are required to do throughout the semester. Some would feel happy doing all those things too. The aim is to make life at the university meaningful and enjoyable, for the memories to be cherished and more memorable.

These are the activities worth looking into while you are at the university:

1. Learn a new language: You tend to be smarter and will be good at multitasking, said a study done at Pennsylvania State University. There is also the possibility of staving off Alzheimer’s and Dementia as your memory improves and you become more perceptive, from results of research done at University of Pompeu Fabra in Spain. Your decision-making skills would improve to, as stated in a study done on bilinguals at the University of Chicago. Best of all, you get to impress others with your language skills too!

2. Pick up a new hobby: Finding something new to be interested in would help you to utilise your time more efficiently, promotes productive leisure and reduces stress, so said psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In addition, you can hone your skills and become a more interesting person, as suggested by Jaime Kurtz, an Associate Professor of Psychology at James Madison University in Virginia.

3. Make new acquaintances: When registering for new classes or activities or even in sharing accommodations, you are bound to meet new and different people within the same spheres. Getting to know them better would be a good move, physically and also emotionally. The Mayo Clinic reported that friendship can “increase your sense of belonging and purpose, boost your happiness, reduce stress, improve your self-worth, (and) help you cope with more serious problems.” In other words, friends and acquaintances are good to have around, more so in times of crisis, alongside family members.

4. Travel to new and different places: Participate in trips or tours organised by an organisation or a class which you are enrolled in at the university. Such trips would provide you with greater insights and understanding of other areas, societies and issues other than your own. Another way would be by joining exchange programmes, where you get to fulfil the study requirements through volunteering, doing part-time jobs or doing field studies, while exploring the richness of another country or culture. The benefits to gain would be in broadening your world views, practicing and developing key skills while gaining work experience, earning some income, making new contacts and international friends and improving your chances for employability. It will definitely be a good way to tackle new challenges that you have set for yourself, to step out of your comfort zone and facing your fears, and at the same time enjoying new experiences.

5. Take up a new activity for your overall wellness or wellbeing: This would be more in relation to managing the stress faced daily as a student. You would be juggling class schedules, assignments, tests, co-curricular activities, time-outs: rest, sleep and exercise, having proper meals and eating times, and your physical, emotional and mental health. Going for regular exercises, self-defence classes or joining some meditation activities would ensure a more balanced individual outlook. You would be able to counter or negate the side-effects of some of the more sedentary pursuits. “Students who are motivated by fitness and wellness tend to have better management skills, and research shows that being fit is good for the mind. It all ties together,” said Tricia Zelaya, Assistant Director at Purdue University Division of Recreational Sports. “Being fit is also about getting (enough) sleep and that is the key to doing well in (studies). (The) goals for success go beyond the classrooms and are aimed at helping young people develop healthy habits for life,” Zelaya added.

Life at the university can be enjoyable and also memorable, as there is more to campus life than burying yourself in books. Feelings of happiness would commonly relate to current experiences, while making such experiences meaningful would be when there are links connecting them from the past to the present and the future.

A meaningful life would bring a sense of purpose and value, giving it a direction for the future.  Therefore, make the most of your moments on campus. They are meant to be fully experienced and cherished, and to be kept a lifetime as memories.

Text: Mazlan Hanafi Basharudin

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