A girl reading a book by the lake Keep calm and read a book by the lake / Photo: Ulf Lundin/imagebank.sweden.se

How to Keep Calm and Carry On during applications

Do any of these panicked thoughts sound familiar?

“Have I missed anything?”

“Do I have enough time to do all of this??

“Wait, do I need a colour or black and white scan of my passport? Colour right? right??”

“When is that application fee due??” 

“Arrrrgh I’m so stressed, I don’t want to mess this up!”

If you’re having sweaty palms and sleepless nights worrying about the application process, you’re not alone! Exactly a year ago I was also stressed about applications! So now I want to help you with some advice on how to stay calm and enjoy the ride!

A girl reading a book by the lake

Keep calm and read a book by the lake / Photo: Ulf Lundin/imagebank.sweden.se

Important Dates for Autumn 2020 semester

First off (if you haven’t already) save these key dates on your phone calendar, your diary, your fridge or anywhere that works for you:

  • 15 January: Admission application deadline at midnight CET on University Admissions website
  • 3 February: Deadline for receipt of application fee/document to prove you’re not required to pay the fee
  • 3 February: Deadline for receipt of supporting documentation
  • 10-20 February: Applications for SI scholarships (Check the Swedish Institute website.)
  • 3 April: Notification of Selection Results
  • Last day to reply to your offer: Your university will contact you if you must reply

Start Early

Hi, I’m Lusanda and I’m a serial procrastinator. THIS IS MY SECRET SHAME. When I applied last year I was stressing at the last minute (because i applied at the last minute, after I almost gave up) and this could have been avoided if I applied early! Previous winners of the Swedish Institute Scholarships have given this advice, along with their nerves and mistakes. Thankfully I started my research a few months early, so I already knew exactly what I needed to do, BUT you can avoid heartache by starting sooner rather than later.

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Stay Organized

I know, I know – we say this often on our other blog posts like Best Application Tips by Hazal but trust me, it’s important! If you know exactly what you need to submit, in the right format and to the right website, it saves you a looot of stress.

Organized workspace / Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

So keeping a to do list might not sound exciting BUT it will feel very satisfying when you scratch off things that you’ve completed!

Journal with highlighted important dates

My journal with important dates / Photo: Lusanda

Brainstorm

Maybe your mind is buzzing with millions of ideas that you can’t keep track of or maybe you feel stuck and uninspired. Brainstorming will help with both of these. It’s up to you how you want to do it – maybe you need a colorful scramble of words on a paper or maybe you need a neat journal where you put your ideas in a table – either way, find a method to get your ideas out of your head and onto a page.

Brainstorming

Higher Education Photo: Aline Lessner/imagebank.sweden.se

It helps you make sense of your ideas and you can come back to it if you get stuck later on. I used this process to figure out which courses I wanted apply for, what to write in my CV, my university motivation letters and my scholarship motivation letters. You can even make one for why you want to study in Sweden! Nguyen has a great blog on the process of keeping a diary of writing a personal statement to Study in Sweden which is fantastic way to keep track of your thoughts!

Brainstorm for motivational letter

A Brainstorm for a motivation letter to study in Sweden / Photo: Lusanda

Follow Study in Sweden

Yes, this is a shameless plug BUT I swear I wouldn’t have felt as confident or prepared to apply if it wasn’t for the countless blog articles, Youtube videos and instagram stories that gave me advice. Our team is students who had to go through the stress of applying just like you! We’re here to help from our experiences – like Camilo’s guide to apply on University Admissions or Emma’s guide on what to expect as a student in Stockholm – it’s very reassuring to know you’re not alone!

Take a break

Step back every once in a while to refresh. Working obsessively on your application may feel like a guarantee for success but that can tire you out. If you see you’ve lost track of time and you’ve been writing for 3 hours, stand up and take a quick 15 minutes to make some tea, stretch your legs, get some fresh air. When you come back you’ll be fresh and able to spot any spelling mistakes! The same rule applies if you’ve spent every day for 2 weeks working on your application – one day to take your mind off can give you a different perspective.

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Calm the mind

In your break time, try meditation. Just 15 minutes of deep breathing can improve your health and make you feel balanced. Maybe you like to read? Read something for fun, like your favourite Sci-Fi novel that transports you to far-away worlds. Or maybe some funny Youtube videos or an engaging Netflix documentary (just don’t binge!). Find healthy ways to distract the mind and you may find inspiration when you least expect it.

The Upside of Stress is a great book to change your mindset towards stress

The Upside of Stress is a great book to change your mindset towards stress / Photo: Lusanda

I’ve been reading a fascinating book by Kelly McGonigal called The Upside of Stress – Why Stress is Good for You, (and How to Get Good at It) and it talks about embracing stress to provide focus and energy and improve learning and performance. So changing your mindset towards stress can also help to keep you focused!

Get Creative

Speaking of inspiration, if you’re creatively inclined – use your favourite hobbies to stay calm! During your break, doodle, draw, paint, sing a song, edit a video – anything that gets your mind excited can stimulate inspiration and a boost of energy to keep going. Even better, use the motivation letter as an opportunity to write creatively – this will help you enjoy the process and write a more authentic letter.

Arts and crafts is a creative way to relax during a break

Arts and crafts is a creative way to relax during a break / Photo: Lusanda

Move your body

We know exercise releases endorphins – getting moving will get your heart pumping for the right reasons and will help you shake the stress out of your body. A quick gym session, a 20 minute jog or dancing to your favorite music can get your blood pumping.

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I’m a fan of yoga, since it releases the tension in your muscles (another side effect of stress) but don’t worry, you don’t need to pull your legs behind your head upside-down in a handstand to get the most out of it – A 5 minute shoulder and neck stretch at your desk will also help!

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Reach out to your loved ones

Your closest friends and family can be the best support system – I’ve spoken about this on my blog The Facebook ad that WASN’T a Scam – how Sweden chose me. They love you and want the best for you so talk to them! Share your ideas, ask them to read your drafts, text them memes and have a laugh! Having their support will keep you calm and help you enjoy the ride because this should be a fun and exciting process!

Getting silly with close friends is a good way to get loose

Getting silly with close friends is a good way to get loose / Photo: Lusanda

Be kind to yourself

Applying for university is a big decision – it’s normal to feel nervous, insecure or unsure about what you choose! I 100% felt that way too. Be honest about your doubts and weaknesses but try not to focus on them for too long – try to focus on your strengths and channel positive energy. Remember what makes you awesome and unique. Remember the application isn’t the end of the world. If you need more time to apply, you can always wait until the next semester!

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Please leave comments and questions below! 🙂

Take a deeeep breath in. Take a deeep breath out.

You can do this.

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Comments (3)

Lusanda

Hello! Hej! Sawubona! I am very excited to be in Sweden and to be part of the Study in Sweden team! It's been a couple of years since I started telling my friends at home in South Africa about my crazy idea to study in this beautiful country so it's honestly a dream come true to be here! I am passionate about many forms of creative expression, including drawing, dancing and singing but to summarize - fashion is my discipline, music is my love, and cooking is my therapy. I'm very eclectic and love contrasting flavours, styles, sights and sounds so I'm always open to new experiences, and they're even better when I get to share them with my friends and of course, with YOU! All of these elements and the breathtaking nature, quality of education and opportunity to engage with sustainability and innovative solutions is what attracted me to Sweden. I'm eternally grateful to the Swedish Institute - they awarded me the scholarship that helped to make this once in a lifetime adventure come to life! It's my first time travelling outside of Africa so I'll be learning a lot and I'm happy to answer any questions through the blog or our instagram page to the best of my knowledge. Stay tuned and let's learn together!
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