Thoughts and Experiences

Study & Travel, a Reflection of Balance

Most of these summer days have been washed away with rain. Now it is mid-August, my brother and sisters are back in school, and I sit here staring at the still-incomplete copy of my Extended Essay as the rain continues to drip outside. I can’t say it was a terrible summer, because it was really quite the opposite: we visited all the grandparents, took college tours though Chicago schools, and I spent some well-needed time with friends and family. Although the summer is wrapping up and I too will be heading back to class within just weeks.

The year to come brings adventures through the UK, Sweden, Bosnia, and Italy; as well as all the perks of being a senior. Although by the look of my workload, I have a feeling most afternoons will be spent at my desk or in the bio lab. I find that attending a traveling high school, while as incredible of an experience as it is, comes with an inexplicable challenge of balance. Should I explore or study? Meet up with friends or go to a meeting? Join a club or spend more time on homework?

We take the term “time-management” to a whole new level.

My first semester of Grade 11 was held in Auckland, New Zealand, where my addiction to caffeine grew stronger with the easy-access to Flat Whites. I also, however, was just a beginner in this thing called the IB and my study techniques were, well, questionable. Many nights I fell asleep with an ethnography or history booklets by my side. Soon I found a hidden classroom in the school where I set up camp and took control of the giant white board. After making a mind-map of my life, my assignments, and all other responsibilities, I was able to organize a bit and get everything under some control.

The second semester of Grade 11 was split between Costa Rica and Athens, and I have little to mention on the prior considering the campus environment didn’t allow much opportunity to choose anything but study. However, in Athens my survival technique was this little elixir of life called caffeine. Despite the fact that I became accustom to sleeping roughly 6 hours or so a night, drinking copious amounts of instant coffee, and somehow managing to make it through the whole three months still amazes me, but also is a little tiring to think about. Yet, my work levels were highly productive in those three months, and I still had time to visit the Acropolis.

I suppose the reason for the need to write about the transformation of my study habits is because at the moment, as I enter into senior year (a.k.a the final year of IB) I have a lot of studying to do. I also think it is important to note these changes and decisions in order to move forward with the most productive style. Blogging, yes here on this blog, is what keeps me motivated to explore and discover amidst the stresses and due dates of normal school.

Travel and study is difficult task, a balancing act, and to those of you who have figured a way to manage both equally — congratulations! I find myself leaning towards study more than travel at times, but in a way it doesn’t bother me. Traveling is an incredible experience that allows you to see that people are not that different. It allows you to see, smell, and hear the attributes of worldly cultures, and lets them influence your own perspective. Study, though, challenges the mind in different ways and lets it make connections from the textbook to the culture in front of you.

Although both traveling and studying are a challenge, it teaches the greatest lesson of all: balance.

And, now that I have come to this conclusion, I suppose it time to step back from reflection and get back into the process of writing that auspicious 4,000 word essay.

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