To all incoming freshmen (or even those who are living life slightly unbalanced!), this whole concept of school-but-free-time might seem familiar, but it’s quite the opposite. Classes aren’t always one after the other and lunch isn’t an assigned time to catch up with friends. Campus involvement is important to many, leaving even less time for down-time with friends and roommates. “Is an hour between classes enough time to hang out with a friend? Wait…I should be studying” are thoughts we’ve all had at times.  Here are a few tips on how I managed my social life/free time while still succeeding academically!

Know Your Schedule

Simply put: know when you have class and when you have free time. Most students have evenings off, leaving for extra-curricular participation. A great way to maintain your social life while at WSU is joining clubs…and we have more than 200! Getting involved with campus life means making new friends, gaining leadership skills, and amping up that resume. Need another plus side? You can hang out with these new friends and work on your club duties together—bam, social goals=reached.

Prioritize

This ties in with point one. It sounds simple, but it takes some thought. Know which classes you really need to study for and know how much time you should take studying. Know which friends you want to hang out/study with all the time and know which friends are a once-in-a-while coffee date. This means those 1-hour time slots between classes are perfect for asking a friend to get coffee and study with or even eat lunch at the caf with. Check out these popular spots for coffee + studying:

  • Mugby Junction (Blueberry Banana Smoothie…get it)
  • Caribou in the Library
  • Panda Express in Zane’s

Campus-Life Aside

Everyone needs to get off campus every once in a while to rejuvenate the mind and body! For me, that means every week. After hours of studying, you might be feeling like your brain is fried! This is an opportune time to get up and out. The Lake Lodge on Lake Winona or Downtown Winona are common places for refueling the soul. After a bike ride around the lake or a paddle downstream, you’ll have an easier time focusing on homework (proven fact!). Grab froyo (or cookie dough) at Nate & Ally’s or find a live band at Acoustic Cafe in downtown for some late pick-me-ups. These places are in walking distance and can be done alone, with friends, or in groups.

Self-Care

I’m admittedly guilty of hanging out with my friends whenever I have free time. Sometimes I forget that I can be alone and not busy, too. Take time for yourself—this means working out, creating art, watching Netflix, reading a book. Textbooks and D2L aside, don’t be afraid to turn down a night with friends for a good facemask and Fortnite…alone. The better you take care of yourself, the better you’ll be able to care for others.

If you haven’t noticed, a common theme here is to stay relatively busy. Living a busy lifestyle leads for many benefits: improvement in time-management skills, there’s always something to do to keep things fresh, the brain is active and working, you’re productive, you feel more accomplished, and relaxation time is more valuable. It always takes a few weeks to make a routine of something new; don’t get discouraged!

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Gretchen Leif

Gretchen is from Inver Grove Heights, MN and she is a Health Education & Physical Education major with an Developmental Adaptive Physical Education (DAPE) minor. Her hobbies include writing, running, and creating art.

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