Life lessons I learned at Cambridge University

So for the past two weeks I had been doing a weekly blog post on 'what-I-did-this-week-at-Cambridge', as part of my goal to blog at least once a week. These reflective diary-entry type articles felt so creative to write and I'm sure that if I go to re-read them I'll be quietly wowed by how much I managed to fit in.

This week, I had technically already checked off my 'at-least-one-post-a-week' goal, with my natural and cleansing skincare recommendations post, so I thought that this week I might not do a 'week in my life' blog post, or at least not one of the same format as before.


But when I had put down my book for the evening on Tuesday evening (may I hasten to add, a book to read for pleasure, not related to work) I was already beginning to think about what I had done that day, and what I had done the day before - and it seemed a shame to not recount it on my gorgeous blog which is so kindly read by wonderful readers.

Yet the thoughts I were specifically having were both a recount of the previous events coinciding with some important life lessons which I found to be worth remembering. And, mind-bogglingly, it was as if each day I was learning something new.

So, instead of simply saying what I did, I thought it would be hopefully helpful to say I did this and, even more importantly, as a result, I've learned this. Even when they are small lessons, a multitude of small things add up to a big thing. And yes, that is another lesson (but that's a story from another time)…

Monday's lesson: Monday's lesson came out of a bottle of emotions exploding. After an unusually unpositive lecture (simply ran by a negative soul) I was in a bit of a mood, albeit emphasised by the bout of pathetic fallacy which was occurring, with a downpour of very cold, borderline torrential rain dripping over me as I stomped to my dorm and then back outside. There was an event being held in the old Arts School which I had been mulling over and was tempted to attend but the grey wash of the afternoon was a literal and metaphorical grey cloud - but I decided to walk into town regardless, thinking to myself that if I decided I did not want to go, then I simply could turn back around and come home. But after battling through the horrendous lecture, rationalising, and simmering down, I decided that, since I'd made it to the location, I may as well go. And the lesson is that I am glad that I did. Whilst attending the talk was not necessarily useful to me, it was fun to be in such a gorgeous building and listening to interesting people talk about what they are interested in. I had recently watched a vlog by Jenn Im, talking about why people fear change, and how it boils down to our brains wanting to use familiar and easy pathways, but once you do something, it's great, and you get used to it as if it was always part of your routine. Overall for me, on Monday I re-remembered that change is as good as (if not sometimes better than) a rest!

Tuesday's lesson: On Tuesday I was lecture-free, which meant that I had to organise my day as efficiently as I saw fit, from picking when to study, to what to study, to if I should trek all the way into town... and after doing everything, on my own schedule, by myself, it reminded me that solitude and independence are exceptional and to be cherished. Had I been relying on any number of the people I have recently met, half of the things I did would not have got done. But by being The Decider and saying 'ok, now you should do this' or 'ok, you should totally have a break' I did everything that I had planned, and then some. Plus, solitude is peaceful - when you've started understanding the art of mindfulness and become less hyper-aware and more calm, there is very little out there to stress you! Although some situations demand more intense emotions, when it's up to you, you can tell your mind that, at the end of the day, nothing is that important - que cera cera. Let the chips falleth where they may.

Wednesday's lesson: Wednesday taught me two things: first, it showed me that the thing which some people call fate works wonderfully well, and second, it reminded me of the goodness of people. My day consisted of lectures from 11am, all the way 'til 6.30pm (yes, thank goodness, with a fortuitous space between 1pm and 2pm, to run back to my floor, make lunch, eat it (yum) and then head to my next lecture) and I was prepared to be exhausted. I started the day with walking on an incline at the gym for 20 minutes, to get my blood pumping so that I didn't feel so stagnant for the rest of the day, and then, at 11am, the lectures began. And the (small, but) amazing thing? I so happened to end up being seated next to distant acquaintances, but the acquaintances who I like the most and never get to talk to or see. Like, all day. It was so minute, but it made the day a little bit sweeter; and it wasn't forced - it was just where we so happened to end up being. The organic unravelling of small but lovely things reminded me of small miracles that can happen each day - and for that I was also reminded to be consistently grateful.

Thursday's lesson: What I took from Thursday was the reassurance that quality does not need to come from quantity, or, in other words, to create great output, the time input does not need to be excessive. Time investment in some scenarios is a wonderful thing - for instance, lots of time with an amazing person can be a win-win - but it isn't necessary for everything. Whenever people claimed to work all day and all night in the library, I often felt a little confused and kind of scared: firstly, surely overworking can become counter-productive? And secondly, does time spent mean a greater product? And I think to that the answer is that, whilst time spent on something can make it great, just because you haven't spent hours on end on your creation does not mean that it is not of value. Perhaps valuable things can come from a culmination of time gradually working and then a quick, sharp voila! In fact, being able to create good things in a small time-frame is a handy skill, and therefore there is no need to feel guilty about being efficient.

Friday's lesson: Rather wonderfully, Friday gave me two lessons: firstly, pursue your passions, and secondly, when you look for good you will see more good. Friday reminded me that you should do exactly whatever you want to do because, when you do so, more of the same comes to you, as if it was meant to be. Which lead me on to the second idea: when you are looking at the goodness in something, you see more good in everything else (which is kind of another way of describing the saying, when you wait for one bus and two show up) - when you stop waiting for the good and start doing what you want, more abundance comes to you. And I can't think of a better way to end the week!

P.S. This week's corresponding vlog can be found here!

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