Exam Season approaches!

by Lucy Williamson of York and Ipswich

If I had a pound for every time a more senior bell ringer expressed concerns about my ringing/study balance then I’d probably never have to pay steepleage again! Usually this concern comes in the form of a simple but loaded statement such as “you do a lot of ringing, don’t you?”. Firstly, I don’t think it is possible to do too much of whatever it is we enjoy, because we all need things in our life which make us happy and help us to forget about work. Secondly, even if some students do appear to do “a lot of ringing”, it needn’t necessarily have any impact on their study, but of course this depends on the individual. It is absolutely possible to go ringing three or even four evenings a week, plus Sundays, and still do yourself proud in your exams. I know this because I’ve seen it happen. The key is striking the right balance – here are some tips that worked for me. 

The 8:8:8 Rule is something I learnt during my fresher’s week. We were told that an undergraduate degree should be treated like a full-time job, that is to say, forty hours of work per week. Along with a decent amount of sleep, this works out as eight hours of work and leisure time each week day. Consequently, as long as any ringing falls within the eight hours of allocated leisure time, what’s the problem? In any walk of life, making sure you know how to wind down and relax is just as important as working hard. After all, the saying is “Work hard, party harder!” Furthermore, if like me you are still a student and not a fan of the clubbing lifestyle, then sometimes breaking out of the stereotypical student mould and finding “your thing” can initially be daunting. Indeed, my main worry before I went to university was that I’d never find any good friends and never fit in unless I learnt to enjoy clubbing.  What nonsense indeed! At the risk of sounding immensely cheesy and cliché, I was simply yet to truly discover myself. I happened to find “my thing” in the form of bell ringing but I promise that whatever you enjoy doing, there are lots more people out there like you and who share your interests. It’s just a case of finding them. 

Finding your motivation: Find whatever it is in this world that you absolutely love doing, and with the right attitude, you can do lots and lots of it and still boss your exams; whether they are GCSE, A Level, undergraduate or beyond. It’s all about short term goals and finding your source of motivation. Learning how to self-motivate is just as important as obtaining the knowledge. Personally, promising myself a reward in the evenings helps me to work hard during the day. Sometimes this is just an evening of my favourite TV in my pyjamas or a glass of wine and some funny YouTube over dinner, but most of the time it’s going ringing and then to the pub. Whatever you reward yourself with, it will be all the more satisfying and enjoyable if you know you were productive that day. 

The importance of human interaction: I thrive on the personal challenges brought by ringing, but I won’t deny that ringing is sometimes just as stressful as an important and looming deadline or exam. However sometimes I don’t go ringing to do ringing, sometimes I go ringing just to be around people. As someone who does an Arts and Humanities degree (for which the contact hours are pitifully few), ringing is sometimes the only reason I have to leave the house. I find that making oneself presentable and partaking in some diverse human interaction reminds you that you are more than a revising, note-taking robot and that, as important as they are, there is much more to life than exams. Good luck, believe in yourself, you can do it!