“Living in a Desi household can further intensify the stress.”
There is no denying that this pandemic has changed our world as we knew it. When it comes to a Desi household and studying during the lockdown, the challenge is huge for many.
Desi university students are definitely finding it a struggle. The excitement of university – living out, networking, (failed) attempts at attending 9ams – has abruptly ended.
Unfortunately, exams and assignments have not. Of course, universities have made adjustments in response to the current circumstances. Nevertheless, the pressure is still on.
Living in a Desi household can further intensify the stress.
With many South Asians favouring family businesses, students could be expected to help out. Extended family units can also mean caring for elders and babysitting. Balancing this all can be an arduous ordeal.
We take a look at studying tips to help you cope with this pressure.
Be Stern with Your Family
Do not be afraid to take some control of your time.
When you are about to study, inform the members of your household and request they do not interrupt you. You will probably find everyone to be quite understanding – sometimes asking is all it takes!
After living out for university, Ravneet found returning home for lockdown made studying rather difficult.
“Everyone at home assumed that being back from university meant my academic work was done.”
“I would sit down ready to study and someone would always come and interfere, needing my help with this or wanting me to do that. As the daughter of the house, my mum expected me to help with cooking and cleaning all day.”
“It was frustrating but I found simply explaining to my family that I still had exams and deadlines to deal with was so useful. Now, when I tell them I’m revising, they know they better let me crack on!”
It is all too easy to tell yourself you can work in the lounge with the family around. Except, your family’s Bollywood movie looks exciting. Eyes darting from laptop to TV, two hours pass. And your essay is three words long.
Inevitably, distraction is rife now that most of the family are at home. If working in a separate room is not possible, try to at least eradicate noise distraction.
Some people work well listening to their own music, whilst others prefer silence. If you fall into the latter group, earplugs are a great solution.
Another infamous culprit of distraction is social media. Simply checking one notification can spiral into hours wasted on your phone.
Resisting the urge to jump on Twitter or Instagram will allow you to focus entirely on your work.
Student Laila discusses how she deals with the temptation of social media whilst studying.
“At first, I would keep my phone next to me but with the screen facing down.”
“Every two minutes though, I would turn it back over…I could not resist.”
“So, I have started leaving my phone with my dad while I study. It is genuinely amazing how much more work I am getting done!”
Utilise Strange Timings
This studying tip relates to the importance of removing distraction.
If you are a natural early bird or late sleeper, try and make use of these times.
During these hours, it is likely that potential distraction – your family, friends over social media – will be inactive.
This is particularly beneficial in the typically Desi extended family household. Living with uncles, aunties and an array of noisy cousins can be an utter frenzy.
So, this studying tip creates an ideal environment for uninterrupted and focused work.
However, do not disrupt your sleeping pattern for the sake of studying.
Being sufficiently rested is a major factor in being productive. Only if you naturally find yourself awake at such hours should this advice apply. There are plenty of opportunities throughout the day to study without you forcing yourself awake!
Lists are extremely helpful for staying organised.
Writing tasks down means you do not have to juggle them mentally – which can become messy and stressful in itself. Moreover, ticking off completed tasks is a very rewarding and mood-boosting process.
Being realistic with your lists is crucial. Setting an attainable number of goals to meet allows the sense of fulfilment without reaching complete exhaustion.
Gavin says “I wrote down my entire workload for the week on one list. With only three or four items of a huge list ticked off by the end of the day, I would feel like I had achieved nothing!”
This is why daily lists triumph. They require you to think carefully about what you would like to achieve in a day. It becomes easy to assess what tasks you have completed at the end too.
Listing items in order of priority is another necessary studying tip. It ensures that any uncompleted tasks will be the least urgent ones. They can always be added to tomorrow’s list!
Lists also offer the flexibility that timetables lack. The rigid structure of timetables means you cannot easily adapt to spontaneity. And we Desi people would not exist without our fair share of spontaneity…
Say you have scheduled revision for 4 pm-5 pm. If mum suddenly wants your help making sabzi at 4:15 pm, your system is thrown into disarray! Lists are not bound to specific times of day, making them great for our hectic households.
Some people find it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time – it is perfectly normal. 20 minutes of pure, hard work will always produce better results than hours of unfocused attempts.
For this reason, regular breaks are a vital studying tip. They are perfect to split your time up if your mind starts to stray.
Taking time out to do something completely unrelated to work allows you to return with a clear mind and renewed focus.
Forcing yourself to plough on when you do not feel like it is extremely unproductive. The quality of your work will suffer, as will your mood.
Alisha is a final year undergraduate, so this exam season is crucial. Her dad was concerned about the toll her extensive revision sessions were having on her.
“She would spend hours at a time in her room studying. She would come out looking so glum, complaining that she had achieved nothing.”
“So, my mum (Alisha’s grandma) has taken action!
“Every half an hour, she knocks on Alisha’s door and makes her take a break.”
“It is a nice way for them to spend time together too. Mum will put oil in Alisha’s hair, or they go for a walk around the block. Sometimes I even catch them making Tiktoks!”
Make it Exciting
In lockdown more than ever, it is so important to do enjoyable things with your time.
So, try not to view your studies as a chore! Use it as a respite from your actual chores – which you will almost certainly not be short of in a Desi household!
Whilst revising for an exam does not immediately scream “fun”, you can take small steps to make it a little less tedious.
Switching up your revision techniques is a great studying tip. It can add some masala and rescue you from boredom!
For example, reading and writing are not the only studying mediums. YouTube videos or reciting to yourself are great if scanning row after row of text is getting dull.
If you have been roped into babysitting siblings, get them to listen while you speak aloud. If they are old enough, you could even make use of flashcards and Q&A’s with them.
Informal group sessions are also fantastic to combat studying boredom.
A plethora of video-calling applications have become popular during the lockdown, like Zoom and Houseparty. With their group-call features, it is so easy to study with friends (and maybe have a gossip afterwards).
Take Care of Yourself
Whilst your education is important, do not let yourself suffer because of it.
It is no exaggeration to say that our whole world has changed. Alongside academic pressure, students have the stress of adjusting to our new way of life too.
With this upheaval to regularity, universities simply cannot expect work to be of the same quality as pre-lockdown.
In fact, many UK universities have introduced ‘no-detriment’ and ‘safety-net’ policies. These account for the unprecedented climate by ensuring work completed during this period cannot negatively impact students’ grades.
The most important thing is to prioritise your wellbeing. Rarely does the opportunity arise for the whole household to spend so much time together – make the most of these unique circumstances!
Ask nani to teach you her infamous samosa recipe. Organise a family movie night (avoiding Veer Zaara unless you want to drown everyone in tears). Pick up a craft, like sewing. Who knows… You could be a Sabyasachi in the making!
So, try not to be anxious. Implement these studying tips into your routine to make things easier. As long as you give studying in lockdown your best shot that is what matters most!