Not such a cheerful title. Let me explain.
So in the past month I have only posted one blog post, and that was more than three weeks ago. When I first started blogging I was sure that I will post once per week or minimum – once in two weeks. This did not happen because of this thing that Sciences Po people call NNB – November Nervous Breakdown.
In Sciences Po there is essentially no such thing as an exam session period. Yes, there is a week after school has ended where some professors schedule their exams, but most finals are taken before the classes end. Especially considering that international politics is something that isn’t just studied through exam questions with only one right answer, but rather arguing, research and negotiation skills. Thus, most finals are in the form of research essays and policy memos. For me, these take more time than exams. Especially since the readers are high end professionals who will see through your bullshit. Got to take it seriously.
So, as a result, I had 9 deadlines within the month of November. This includes endless research papers, an oral presentation and French exams. My research papers were up to 20 pages long. I feel that some of them would be good to submit as BA thesis. I struggled most with a law paper I had to write, since I have never studied law before. I had no idea how to properly even cite these materials. The irony of it is that instead of 5 months as we got for the BA thesis, I had to write these papers in 1-3 days. There wasn’t simply more time. Let me explain why.
Because next to these crazy long papers I also had to attend all my school classes. Yes, I had to, because attending classes is compulsory here and missing more than two classes automatically means that you have failed. In addition, I am helping to run an association with nearly 200 volunteers, I am also babysitting on the only free day I have during my weekdays and I am also teaching at the Estonian School in Paris. Even though I love all these things separately, they are a lot to handle next to crazy amount of work in university.
Thus, there were periods when I only drank energy drinks and slept 8 hours during 3 days. This started getting on my health. Also, the crazy political situation what we have witnessed recently made things just worse. Now I literally spent days and nights to argue with people over political and human rights matters. It was getting so stressful, that all this resulted with me getting physically sick. It took me more than a week to get back my health and I even started doubting in my career choices. Everything seemed so hard and I broke down crying multiple times. It was necessary for me to learn to cut back on the negativity and start taking caring about myself for a change. I had the ultimate November Nervous Breakdown.
However, some good things that happened to me and what I learned in November:
1. I learned again that I have some amazing friends and family who know how to support me, tell me if I am obsessing over something that cannot be changed and force me to take time to relax.
2. I had a boost of motivation to continue with my work and study when I received the 2500€ Agnes Kultase prize for excellence in my study field. It was also motivating to see an interview with me published in University of Tartu’s magazine. All this confirms me that I’m on the right path.
3. I learned that since my work field will always be stressful – Humanitarian catastrophies, wars and human rights violations will never be an easy field – I need to surround myself with people who are not only negative, but can also say good things and motivate me. My personal life does not need more negativity. One of my fav quotes is now: “You’ve got to stop watering dead plants”.
4. I understood that I have got to spend less time on social media and more time on my real life goals.
5. I learned that I can’t continue this way and next semester I will tone down on the extra-curricular obligations. I am also changing my concentration from Diplomacy to Global Health, which means I will have more classes to work on. And I want to be able to enjoy Paris too. This past month I only saw the school, metro and my tiny apt room. I already quit the babysitting job, it’s just too far from me and takes up too much of the free time I don’t actually have.
So, that was my November. A very personal post compared to the ones I have written so far but I hope you don’t mind. I have one research paper and economics exam left and then I am finally free to go home to Estonia. Can’t wait.