Letters from the dorm: For real success, stress less

Letters from the dorm: For real success, stress less

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In Britain, students lead less stressful lives than those in Hong Kong.
In Britain, students lead less stressful lives than those in Hong Kong.
Photo: Emily Ting
Every student knows that exam time is when we get cooped up at home (or in halls, like me) or at the library - snacking, and wishing you had started studying sooner.

When I study for exams, I put a lot of pressure on myself and get stressed. Sometimes I think this comes from my Hong Kong upbringing - being spoon-fed and "trained" to cram for exams. This kind of Hong Kong exam ethic helped me set high standards for myself, but it also trained me to think that stress is a part of studying.

Since coming to Britain to study (and growing up along the way), I've learned that it is possible to stress less about exams. I find that people here are more relaxed, but they do just as well in their exams.

At the British school where I did my A-levels, my British classmates didn't stress as much as my Asian classmates (including myself). They studied hard for a certain amount of time every week, but gave themselves enough time off to watch TV and do normal fun things.

Now, at university, while I've been freaking out about not knowing enough of Paradise Lost or Aristotle's theory of poetry as imitation, my fellow English literature students seem much more relaxed than me. It's partly because university here is more about doing your own research rather than teachers spoon-feeding you, and it's also because exams here are more of a test of your skills (such as how to build a good argument) than a test of memory. Sure, you have to remember certain theories and quotations, but it's more important to have a good argument and an original view - especially in my subject.

I'm trying to fit into the British exam culture and be less stressed about exams.

When the stress starts to get to you, sit back and relax a bit - I find taking a nap or going for a walk is refreshing, and helps me remember more.

Anyway, all the best to everyone who has exams - the promise of post-exam freedom, relaxation and a long, lazy summer will surely see you through!

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