It’s easy to spot the pattern that everyone else seems to follow, which is to start to make friends with people who come from the same country as you. And honestly, I get it, I do, they speak the same language as you so naturally, you bond faster. And it’s true, you likely have more in common with these people than any others, but ask yourself this, what’s the point in being an international student in an international school, if all of your friends are people from the same place as you? International schools are the perfect place to create global friendships and learn about lots of new and different cultures, so my first piece of advice is to get yourself into a group of diverse individuals, where you get the opportunity to make new friends who aren’t from the same place as you, learn about their country/culture and improve your English!
Use your time wisely
The IBDP isn’t easy, and unless you manage your time right, it’s going to be ten times harder. To avoid stress, you need to manage your time right. So the two hours you get every evening to do homework in study hall? Use them, even if you don’t want to. If you’re the kind of person who can study for five minutes the night before a test and get an A, I envy you, but for the rest of us out here without a photographic memory, time management is everything. And if you don’t already have one, get a school planner. They are the most efficient way of keeping on top of all your homework and remembering all the little things you have to do each day. That university meeting on Friday? Write it down. That test you have next week? Write it down. The planner is no use if you don’t write things in it, and I definitely advise that you do. It’s the safest way to make sure you don’t forget anything, no matter how big or small. Another tip for organization is to set an alarm on your phone every time something comes up that you need to remember. So as well as writing it down, you’ve got an alarm set for 10 minutes or so before the event. I only started doing this when I arrived at EF, and honestly- it’s a real life saver sometimes. You could also use post-its or a white board to organize your appointments.
Enjoy your weekends
So you might think this is a bit contradictory seeming as I just said to knuckle down and get your work done, but the point in managing your time wisely is to make sure you have room for some fun too. If you leave all your homework to the weekend, you’re not going to find the IB to be that great. By getting all, or the majority of your work done during the week, it frees up your weekends to do whatever you want, guilt free. And then any small pieces of work you have left, you can finish off on Sunday evening in study hall. Remember, weekends are your down time, but only if you choose them to be. If you leave pieces of work undone, your weekends are going to end up becoming a long two days spent in your room slaving away on the essay you should have finished by last Tuesday. And when you are doing work, the best way to get things done quickly is to properly focus! Don’t procrastinate, don’t decide to hoover your room instead or go and sit in a room full of people when you have an essay due in tomorrow. The work won’t get done, and then you’re left wondering how and why you’ve spent all day trying to finish one worksheet. Well think about how much of that time ‘working’ you spent on your phone, or talking to someone and not actually focusing on your task. Everyone focuses in different ways, so do whatever works for you, but make sure whenever you are working, that you are properly focusing on it. This way tasks gets done quicker, and tasks gets done well, which leaves you with weekends of freedom. Make the most of your free time, and the school week will seem more worth it!
What’s the point to living on a campus with constant activities and people around you if you’re just going to sit in your room for 3 hours after school playing games?? Okay, so if you’re skyping home or finishing off work etc.. that’s understandable, but if you’re not..don’t waste time! There’s all sorts of clubs to consider, where you will get to meet whole new groups of people you might not have come across before. What’s more, choose something you think you will enjoy, and get CAS hours for doing it! Right now, I do an activity for an hour after school every single day of the week, two of which are to do with my favorite subject. I specifically chose these clubs because they interest me, and I’ve made friends with so many people who I have things in common with as a result of it. People I might not have come across if I’d never joined the clubs. Even if you just join one, that’s better than doing nothing, and it’s something you can add to your résumé. This is not to say, however, that you shouldn’t give yourself time to rest; everyone needs time to revitalize, and us teenagers probably need it the most. So, get involved, push yourself a bit, but don’t exhaust yourself. Just find some things that you enjoy and get involved, you might even find yourself having fun.
If you’re wondering what that is, it stands for positive mental attitude and anyone who knows me knows that I swear by it. Honestly, your attitude is everything. If you complain about anything and everything, then things really are going to seem like they have a permanent rain cloud over them -but only if you look at them in a negative way. A lot of people don’t even realize when they are complaining, but believe me, if you took the time to think about what you’re saying, you’d realize that you complain a lot more than you think you do. Whether it’s the weather, the work, or just the way the day is going, we always find something. Instead, consider and focus on the good things, things that make you lucky and happy. Remember, for every small bad happening, there are loads of good things to turn your attention towards. And that doesn’t mean ignore all the bad stuff, it just means that the things you perceive as ‘bad’ are not always what you make them out to be, and with the right attitude, bad things turn into good things. Stop focusing on all the tiny little negative things that bring you down, they don’t matter. Even if you feel down, just try to put on a smile and engage with people, you’d be surprised how much of a difference it can make to your mood.
You just need the right attitude. And all those things you’ve been saying and believing you can’t do? You can, but not always on your own like you may believe. There is no shame in asking someone for help, or reading up on something to get the support you need. Just because you can’t do something now, doesn’t mean its totally off limits. And the longer you stick with something, the better you will get! If you give up right at the start, you aren’t allowing yourself to even try. Give yourself a chance, and give things a go. Keeping a positive mental attitude can really transform your outlook on things, and the amount the you enjoy them. So try it, next time you speak to someone, instead of listing all your complaints for the day, try telling them something you’re happy about, something that is going well for you, or even something you’re looking forward to. You’d be amazed at how relieving it is to wipe away the little negativity that we’re accustomed to attaching ourselves to.
Written by IBY1 student, Menna Clarke
The International Baccalaureate® Diploma is a world-renowned qualification for students who seek a broad and challenging curriculum that helps them develop all the skills needed for success at university. Thanks to EF Academy’s unmatched internationalism, our students live the IB ethos every single day.