January Motivation

5 January 2022

Coming back to uni after Winter break can be really tough. You may be feeling out of your routine or homesick all over again, so we wanted to put together some ideas for looking after yourself and getting motivated this month.

illustration of four people studying. They are sitting on giant books with big plants growing around them

Planning things to look forward to

the giant whale skeleton in the natural history museum
We’ve just come out of an expensive month, so we are inclined to want to limit unnecessary spending, but this doesn't mean we have to sacrifice planning cool things to do. It will help to motivate us and focus our attention on the future. 

Here is a list of the best free things to do in London. The Natural History Museum is free to attend but they also host ticketed-events such as yoga and silent discos in The Great Hall pictured above.

If you are missing home, London might be the last place on earth you want to be right now. We understand that, so don't force yourself to do things you don't want to do. If you are feeling homesick, you could instead find a supermarket selling groceries from your home country or schedule time to connect with friends and family. London will be yours to explore, whenever you feel ready. 

Make a 2022 vision board 

a collage with lots of different images and 2021 in the middle
This is definitely a fun activity we will be doing to get into the right headspace for 2022. Gather inspirational images that represent your goals, ideas or wishes for 2022. Maybe it is learning a language, going on holiday or visiting a restaurant you've been eyeing up - these can all go on a vision board. The images could either be glued to a piece of paper or in a journal, or arranged in a word document. Print off the vision board to place it above a desk or use it as a laptop screensaver for reminders of what a great year you have ahead. 

Join a society - it isn't too late!

seaside landscape with cliffs and blue sea in Cornwall in the UK
Joining a society could be a really rewarding experience and can help you find your feet again in the New Year. We can all prioritise time for doing something that makes us feel happy and gives us a sense of achievement. Having something to focus on outside of academic life can positively effect your mental and physical health but also your studies. Stepping back once in a while will aid your learning process by providing time to process information and gather ideas. 

Here are some societies you might not know of:

Baking society 

UCL book Club

Hiking club 

Urban farmers society 

Yoga & meditation club  

Study with friends

a group of students studying together in an informal setting
Hard tasks are always easier when you can tackle them with friends or peers. So organising a study group or an informal meetup once a week with some classmates could be a really nice way to ease back into term time and make studying a lot more fun. We can reach out to people and make sure they feel included as we never know who might be struggling and in need of some support. 

Write to your friends and family 

person writing a letter
Starting university is a major life change. You embark on a new chapter, saying goodbye to your family and school friends, to go about your day-to-day life with pretty much no-one you know. Your first term is a whirlwind of trying different things and meeting loads of people, where as term two you get the feeling that the honeymoon period is over and suddenly university seems really intense. Some students may experience loneliness because they don't feel like they have made meaningful connections with those around them and as workloads increase, this can be a really difficult time. It can take a while to build strong friendships at anytime in our lives, so this is totally normal. There is a support network of people within UCL like tutors, advisors and us, (International Student Support, of course!) as well as your family and old-friends to get you through this difficult transition.

Staying in touch with your friends and family is one way to feel less isolated. We all use social media and facetime to reach our family and friends, but writing letters or emails to your nearest and dearest could also help you feel connected to them. You can use an email to write as much or as little as you'd like on your life in London and add photos to illustrate your experience. The same goes for sending a letter. It might be that you can share things in writing that are harder to express over the phone. You can easily print photos from your phone at many Boots pharmacies or using a site like Snapfish. Family and friends love to receive letters, while this also gives us a chance to reflect. Sending letters is not costly. You can visit any post-office to send international letters. Happy writing! 

Set manageable goals 

a diary planner with pens
We can all get ourselves into a spiral of dread when we set unrealistic goals. So we need to be honest about the time and energy we have right now. Do what you can and ease your way back into your usual routine. If you have a big project or coursework due, try breaking it down into smaller tasks. This will help manage your time and it will feel more rewarding. If you are feeling really overwhelmed by an assignment, please book office hours with your module or personal tutor who will be happy to help.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, speak to an adviser

one person in frame with UCL cares tshirt on
It is easy to punish ourselves when we are feeling low or unproductive, but at these times we can show ourselves compassion. One way to do this is to get help if we are feeling low more often than not. UCL has a host of people you can reach out to if you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or sad. Make an appointment with your personal tutor, a student adviser or speak to Care First. If you would prefer to speak to someone outside of UCL, you can speak to your GP. No issue or feeling is too small, if you aren't feeling good, please let someone know. 

Reminder: you are doing an amazing job!

a group of friends fist bumping to celebrate an achievement
Moving to a new country to study is a huge achievement. Sure it can be frustrating and exhausting at times, but you are doing your best and should be proud of your achievements thus far. Small achievements along the way are well worth celebrating, so make sure you do plenty of celebrating this year! 

We hope some of these ideas might be useful and we wish you all the best for a great Term 2! We will be running drop-in sessions online and in-person if you ever want to speak to the International Student Support team.