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My perfect study space from home: Alex from Greece

Are you struggling to study at home? HanzeMAG International comes to the rescue! In this series, we ask Hanze-students how they organize their ‘study nirvana’ during lockdown.

Everyone studies differently: a certain amount, a certain pace, a certain environment. And some people like to take it up a notch. IBS-student Alexander Mestousis give us an insight into how he is excelling not only in his studies, but in life as well.

‘When it comes to exams, I will always give myself ample time to prepare. I start at least two weeks before the exam starts. Before these two weeks, I will usually put in one to two hours a day and study in a very strict pattern: I will be completely focused on studying for a certain time, my timer is usually set to 25 minutes.’

‘I study non-stop for 25 minutes and after that, I put a tick on a sheet of paper and have a five-minute break. Then I study for 25 minutes again: another tick on the paper. I study until I have four ticks. That allows me to have a longer break: 20 to 25 minutes. This is usually enough for me for one study session. If not: I try to reach another four ticks and then I’m done. But all in all, I don’t study for more than two hours or I will overburden myself.’

‘I used to listen to calming music when studying, sometimes even rain sounds. But the thing is, I feel like I’m able to study better and absorb more information when it’s absolutely dead quiet. I cannot study with actual music because my brain absorbs the lyrics, so I’ll either have something very soft in the background or use nothing and study in silence.’

‘After I’m finished studying, I do a “positive reinforcement”. I congratulate myself: “Yes, I did it!”, I will also usually reward myself with a piece of chocolate or some good food – anything my brain can use as a positive reinforcement.’

The secret
Alex is a mentor for first-year IBS students, teaches English to Chinese children, is part of the Honours programme and still manages to study and succeed. How does he do it?
‘The most important thing is work distribution. Also, find and do things that you enjoy. In my case, I really enjoy teaching English, it is a passion of mine and I don’t see it as a job, I enjoy my time talking to people from another culture and teaching them English. I also love helping people, that’s why mentoring is not difficult either, it’s just part of my personality. Honours, on the other hand, is work, so I just incorporate it into my work schedule.’

Plan out a good schedule and stick to it

‘The real secret is just managing your time efficiently and knowing when to stop. As I said, make a study pattern. Do not overburden yourself with, let’s say – eight hours of work, because you will burn out. If you have just one free hour in which you can study, fine, but don’t push yourself to the point where you will just hate it, because your body is going to reject it every single time. Plan out a good schedule and stick to it so that you’re comfortable.’