Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 25, 2022

How to balance your social and academic life

By LEELA GEBO | September 1, 2022

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COURTESY OF LEELA GEBO

Gebo shares advice on how to maintain a healthy work-life balance in college.

Classes at Hopkins are hard. They’re rewarding and exciting places to bond with brilliant students and professors — but they're hard. While some homework feels more tedious than others, late nights spent sitting in Brody Learning Commons, eyes glazing over as you open yet another reading, problem set or lecture is a near universal Hopkins experience. 

There’s something almost comforting about it: the organized chaos of coffee, chargers and laptops on cramped desks, the lingering scent of your friend’s forgotten honeygrow, the constant dings as more of your fellow Blue Jays enter the atrium to open their own laptops and work into the night. It’s an incredibly collective experience, because, after all, classes at Hopkins are hard. 

What I’ve found even harder, though, is creating a balance between classwork and all the other things that are important to me. As quintessential to the Hopkins experience as long nights in the library are, as I enter senior year, I know for a fact that these will not be the times I miss the most upon graduating. The moments that have thus far defined my college experience were not spent on M-Level, though it holds a special place in my heart. 

My best memories from the past three years are dressing up and cooking dinner with my roommates during quarantine, getting up early every Wednesday morning to get bagels with some of my best friends, listening to my fellow News-Letter editors’ answers to the Question of the Week, teaching creative writing to elementary school students in Baltimore, walking to weeknight concerts at Ottobar and enjoying early-spring ice cream cones at BMORE LICKS. 

I still don’t think my work-life balance is perfect. What I’ve come to learn, though, is that work will always get done. Fun, on the other hand, you have to carve out specific time for. 

This isn’t to say that you should go out the night before your first midterm or watch movies with new friends instead of turning in that essay. However, it’s okay — better, in fact — to take intentional breaks from schoolwork than to try and push through entire weekends of studying, because you know you have a busy week coming up. If you don’t, you’re setting yourself up for burnout. 

My biggest tip for making the most of your time in Baltimore while also staying on top of your academics is to plan exciting, intentional study breaks. They can be as short as a walk around campus while calling a friend you haven’t seen in a long time or as long as a day spent exploring new neighborhoods of the city. 

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re excited by it: scour The News-Letter’s Leisure section and “Events this weekend” to find restaurants, festivals and concerts that catch your eye. Invite your roommate, that kid in your Expos class who you think is cool or the person you always sit next to during section to go with you. Put it in your planner and then block out time around it to tackle your schoolwork. Trust that when you get back, you will be more productive, refreshed and ready to tackle a new problem set. Close your laptop and head out. 

P.S. Do something exceptionally cool on your study breaks? Email leisure@jhunewsletter.com and pitch a new article idea! 

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