b.Line Issue 20: Drowning in a Sea of Choices

Posted in Life Thoughts

Assalamualaikum,

As I’ve written on my previous post (Saying Hello to December), I was really really looking forward to December 4th, the release date of the 20th issue of b.Line, the Wisconsin School of Business Magazine. Well, it’s out now (obviously, since it’s December 7th now). And I was so psyched when it came out, that I actually woke up in the morning at 9am (though I didn’t have class until 4:30pm) Okay, that was partly because I had an interview at 10am, but still, I was so freaking excited about it.

MY picture and article are on the coverrrrrr. Oh. My. God. See my cute and adorable handwriting? 😛 Hikhik! Other than the fact they got my name wrong on the article itself (Syaza Azami) but got it right at every other places (back cover, inside front cover), I was pretty pleased with it. :) Someone asked me on my Ask.fm if I would put this up, so, well, here you go :)

For new students like me, it has always been the same advice again and again and again.

‘You should be more open to opportunities!’
‘Blend in! This is college; you’re supposed to take part.’
‘Don’t limit your abilities. Join different clubs. Take part in different activities!’
‘Expand your network. Participate in new things, meet new people, learn new skills.’

To be honest, I am kind of bored of it. It just feels… I don’t know… too cliché, maybe? It became somewhat of an obligation for people, students, typically, to take part in everything that they could get their hands on, leading to students not having enough time to study or do the things they wish they could do.

I have to admit, the abundance of opportunities that I found as I stepped into UW-Madison is too good to be true. I mean, I never had this many choices back home in Malaysia. We were not exposed to a lot of exciting opportunities, and envied those who did have the chance to go out and do something. Most of us were not lucky enough to have these options, and so, coming here to the United States, it really is a dream come true to have all these opportunities waiting for me.

But somehow, things are a little bit overwhelming, and perhaps, unnecessary? I mean, of course, you should not turn down an opportunity; it might be your only chance at it. But isn’t quality better than quantity? What good would it be if I join a bunch of odd groups instead of focusing on two or three student organizations that I am really passionate about? What benefits would I get for participating in events after events non-stop and have no time to spend on my studies and my personal self?

With assignments, tutorials, research papers and exams piling up, students might find it hard to balance their time between academic and non-academic responsibilities. As an international student, I would definitely need more time to adjust to the system here. Add in some part-time work, the twice-a-week exercise sessions, some social events, a couple of Skype sessions with family and friends back home, a weekly grocery shopping trip and some personal time, how much time can I spend to pursue my hobbies and interests?

Here’s a little tip that I received from a friend, who is currently a junior here in UW-Madison: Only join the organizations that you know would benefit you the most.

And so, the journey to find the clubs that fulfill all my needs and interests began. From the list of student organizations and opportunities available on the Wisconsin Involvement Network and the special kickoff booklet by the Daily Cardinal, I jotted down about ten to fifteen clubs that caught my attention. Then, during the fair itself, I went to all their booths, got more information and crossed some off the list. The week after that was full with kickoff and informational meetings, but it was worth it. The original list of fifteen clubs now became a list of only a few clubs that I decided to commit to.

Nobody said it was an easy task, but it was worth it. Instead of spending weeks trying to balance studies over all the commitments, I find it better to spend one crazy week figuring out which commitments suit my taste. Of course, I had to cross off some clubs that I really liked, but sometimes, saying ‘No’ is not really a bad thing. Some of the clubs have overlapping activities and events, being somewhat repetitive, while others demanded so much out of me that I might not have enough time and energy. But then again, I have four years to do all the things I love, so why would I need to rush everything in my first semester?

December 7, 2013
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