Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset: Where the Holidays Are

Ever wanted to rant about that someone you just can’t stand? Overwhelmed with too many feelings? Check out Raffles Press’ new column, Ask Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset, and our resident Aunties and Uncles will be glad to help you with your Rafflesian troubles! Submit your confessions to tinyurl.com/rafflesadvicecolumn and we’ll give them our best shot.

I’m really incredibly bored. The holidays are here and I have many many things to do – PW, revision – but I’m still so listless from day to day. My friends are all going overseas and I’m staying here with no one to go out with. What to do with my life :(

– I-want-to-chill

Dear I-want-to-chill,

I can assure you you’re not alone. After an arduous semester, the last thing any person wants to do is to go back to hitting the books, and finding company is tough with your friends overseas. We can imagine you’re probably tempted to endlessly scroll through the internet to pass time – but as you’ve said, with so many things to take care of, it’s probably wiser to make something of this month-long break.

First off, if you need to invigorate yourself for studying, or refresh your determination, here’s what you can do:

Clean Your Room
After going through mad scrambles to complete homework, without having had any time to sort out your life for weeks in a row now, you could probably do with reinventing your room. And one of the easiest, most immediate ways to do that is to simply clean it!

This may seem like a boring chore, but you can ease yourself into it simply by focusing on cleaning one small area of your room at a time, rather than ambitiously clearing all your messes at one go. Drawers first, followed by table tops and closets, then the magical stashes accumulating under your bed.

Cluttering your home with unnecessary items leads to a similarly scattered mind; it’s true that your workplace reflects your mood. Get rid of what you don’t need (dispose, donate or dump through selling), so you can also cleanse your mind to be ready for work!

File Your Work
If you are someone already accustomed to leaving your worksheets and notes to collect in your bag or pile sky-high on your desk, I imagine this suggestion may appall you. But – hear me out – filing is essential for getting on track with efficient studying, as it makes for organised content, which is always conducive for the diffusion of information into your brain. A cleaned desk does wonders a refreshed state of mind, and as a bonus, is accompanied by a great sense of accomplishment and productivity – always a plus point on those annoyingly slow days. “I hate having a clean desk,” said nobody ever!

On the other hand, if your mind is already too saturated, here are some activities to turn to, that are off the so-feared academics road.

Study in Interesting Places
We all know it: this month is not a holiday, at least not in the truest sense of the word. As the days go by, revision creeps higher on our to-do lists, but it does get boring after a while, which by then is a telling sign that a break from the humdrum of student life would do you good. In lieu of this, perhaps what could cure your listlessness would be, simply, a change of scenery. Cooping yourself up at home for the entire month could leave you with undesirable cabin fever.

Well then – consider packing your supplies and heading to uncharted lands! For a change from the usual spots in the library or in school, you may want to check out some of the following locations – Changi Airport, a growing favourite with students because of the glorious air-con; newly opened cafes, great for convenient and much-needed sustenance; or even office spaces such as Asia Square, where empty tables and chairs are aplenty during the weekends (so there isn’t a need to queue early at the library just to snag a spot).

Alternatively, what’s stopping you from heading down to the park? There are tons of quirky places to plonk your books down and study at; though if you’re self-proclaimed to be allergic to the heat, bring along a hat or a fan.

Do note that this idea may not be for you as you may not accomplish much work if you choose an esoteric (thereby unconducive) place like a grass field – but you will gain things valuable in the emotional and spiritual sense, like a feeling of freedom and a breather from the stress clouding your mind.

The bottom line is: if you want a space where you can be task oriented, but still have the freedom to remain unaffected by the need to pursue efficiency (which you have had enough of the past few months), you need only think of some place you’ve forgotten at the back of your mind (Because you had no time to visit? Because it was remote?) and take a trip there. Keep a lookout for our upcoming Study Go Where column next week, which will cover potential study spots.

Visit Interesting Places
Seeing as you’re likely someone who’d rather abandon your books altogether if you’re reading this, Singapore holds plenty for you. Our abundant complains about how boring it is to live here as a local often come about as a result of lacking interest in exploring local areas, rather than any possible trite nature Singapore’s attractions may have, and are also untrue. Need some ideas for an exploration by yourself or with friends? They’re only a Google away.

Do Funny Things
For the more daring out there, there’s always delight in challenging yourself to do something outrageous. We don’t recommend swimming to Malaysia, but you’re free to take advantage of the anonymity of living in a large city, to try have fun in small, but unusual ways. You can, for instance, try studying on the MRT floor or pretend-pole-dancing on an empty bus!

Reading Up
Finding yourself jaded from being able to learn only from some pre-determined syllabus? Thirsty for a greater breadth of knowledge you’re not hearing about? Then you ought to try looking for books or articles related to your subjects! Reading outside of the syllabus is like learning, but with more fun in the package. Chances are, you may find some relevant information while enjoying this break-but-not-really-a-break from studies, which helps you find delight (or at the very least, meaning) in what you study – and what could be better for students like us, than associating our work with play?

For a place to start, read Freakonomics (by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt) and The Economist for Economics, Guns, Germs, and Steel (by Jared Diamond) for History or Geography, and more. Of course, the content isn’t restricted to merely the few disciplines mentioned, but you may find that they are more pertinent to these few subjects.

Catch Up with Your Interests
Inevitably, as much as hobbies make us happy, we’ve all found we had to sacrifice time reserved for them for schoolwork instead. Well, think about it: when was the last time you indulged in binge watching TV shows or reading novels, without nagging guilt looming in the background? If you’re confounded by a hazy memory, it’s a probable sign that you could do with an opportunity to unwind.

Admittedly, most of us would be reluctant to take this time off out of the simple fear of how much time we’d ‘waste’ – but it’s because we’ve been conditioned to be workaholics, who feel guilt at the thought of a slight diversion from work.  Here’s a friendly reminder: “Time you enjoy wasting is not time wasted”, and it’s human to need a break. A moment of relaxation isn’t an impassable hurdle on your path to success (in school). So, don’t be afraid to lose yourself in eclectic activities or games for a while!

If time is of paramount concern, however, and you wish to minimise time spent on activities not pertinent to the elephant in the room (read: decent A Level grades), keep in mind the golden rule of quality over quantity. We’d recommend setting a timetable for recreational activities, and resolving to make the most out of the bare minimal amount of time you’ve set aside. Also, make a vow to stick to the time-frames you decide on. It’ll encourage you to take an active role in deciding how much play-time you need.

Talk to Your Family (and Friends)
Similar to the above section but applied to humans, we often neglect our family when caught up in our own affairs because they’re one of the easiest people to take for granted. If you want to do something meaningful, reach out to your family and long-lost friends by writing notes or giving them gifts, or simply put aside some time for them. Reconnect and let them know they still matter to you – you’ll find yourself better recharged when you renew your bridges. It’s just like rediscovering the comfort of home when you’ve spent an incredible amount of time in foreign places – we assure you getting closer to those who treasure you won’t hurt a bit.

Give Yourself a Pep Talk
For when you’ve suffered bouts of inertia and can’t get a start on productivity in any way, not even in the recreational sense, this is one of the best things you can do for yourself!

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If stress and pressure is inhibiting you from properly working, take a step back and keep your focus on the big picture. Remind yourself that the upcoming examinations are only one of the many, many milestones you will pass, and are they likely to be insignificant in the larger view of things. Assure yourself that slow and steady (and well, consistency along with that) wins the race.

Make small to-do lists every day, crafting realistic and reasonable goals, rather than overloading it by setting 10 to be checked off (if you can do that though, props to you – but don’t pressure yourself to do the same). Those small goals you achieve do accumulate; you’ll have gone through whole subjects soon enough!

Conclusion
We dearly hope these suggestions have started you off on the right track! Of course, you’re not limited to just what was mentioned here. There are so many possibilities under the sun, and no one can fault you for using holiday time to go out and enjoy yourself (that is the fundamental purpose of a holiday, after all). Situations and interests vary from person-to-person, but if there’s any generalisation we can apply to any quest to do something one loves, a notable piece of advice is to simply be brave and venture out. Into what? Now that’s up for you to decide!

Need more ideas for places to visit in the holidays after reading this article? Look out for our upcoming Study Go Where series next week, as well as our restaurant reviews every Monday these June Holidays!

If you have any queries or concerns related to the Aunt Agony/Uncle Upset column or its confessions, please direct them to press.raffles@gmail.com, with the title ‘Questions about Aunt Agony’.

Comments
One Response to “Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset: Where the Holidays Are”
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