This is a long overdue post that I’ve been procrastinating to write because it’s a very difficult blog to write. I would still like to give it a try and share with you my little secrets on how I balance university and international game. You can also apply these when working, as I did the same while working)!
First off and this is in my opinion the most important for me. I work with to do’s lists, all day every day. Every little thing I must get done, I write it down in a booklet that I bring everywhere with me. I enjoy the feeling of crossing off a task after it has been completed. On this to do’s list, I write my trainings (on and off the ice), my homework, papers, but then also the fact that I need to go grocery shopping, cook and eat. Other stuff like answering to e-mails and social media messages (I’m really bad at this) and blog posts and all that is on that list as well. I use this booklet, so that I see how much I’ve already got done by flipping through the pages to the actual page where I’m currently at. This to do’s booklet keeps me very organized and I never forget about anything, although I might not get it done very fast, it’ll get done eventually. Of course, everything with a deadline is done on time. 😊
Secondly, every Sunday, I plan out my next week. I create a schedule with times I’m at university and times where I’m at practice. From that I fill up the schedule with designated studying time, cooking time and free time where I would meet up my friends for coffee or drinks (this is a MUST in my schedule). Even though my schedule is very tight, there’s still time for the spontaneous shopping trip or a massage.
Thirdly, sleep is key! I make sure that I get 9 hours of sleep every night, but of course there are some nights where there’s a lot less than that. To be well rested helps me keep track of my schedule and be productive. I realize that every time I have a designated study slot, with 9 hours of sleep, this study slot is very efficient and I get everything done that I planned. With less than 9 hours of sleep, well, the studying is going a lot slower and it’s less satisfying. Also, I get a lot more out of my practices when I’m well rested and have a good feeling in my body.
Forth, school friends are so important as an international athlete. You know you’re going to miss classes, assignments, exams, projects and so forth due to travelling and games. Having friends in school (not hockey friends) makes life so much easier. Knowing that you have people that take notes for you, let you know what you’ve missed in class and help you study for exams is PRICELESS! There is so much less to worry about, knowing that you can be gone for a week or even more and come back and get everything you missed right away. Group projects? Make sure to always play with open cards from the very beginning of the project. Let them know what you’re doing and suggest times when you can meet, so that they can adapt to your schedule. Be active!
Fifth, looking ahead is another important aspect in balancing university and international game. Usually, every athlete knows their season schedule ahead of time. In my case, I usually received my national team schedule in April. The schedule with the club team was usually done in July. I took these schedules and checked all the dates that I would be gone from university due to tournaments or away games. I would write all these dates out and on the first day of every semester I would talk to my teachers / professors. I would go up to them either before or after the first class and introduce myself and explain my situation and give them a sheet of paper with all the classes that I would be missing. Let me tell you, this is a pain in the ass to do, but it always worked. Usually during the first class, we would receive the class schedule with the most important dates on for papers due, exams, projects dues and presentations. I would quickly go over these dates and see if I would not be around for any of these. If that would be the case, I would go talk to the teacher / professor again and would suggest to the assignment BEFORE! Teachers always appreciated the fact that I was trying to make everything work and not just try to get by.
9 out of 10 times I would be able to leave for national team tournament or games and would not have to worry about school at all, because I got everything done before or it was all set up for after. That way, I could always focus a 100% on hockey and my performance when it was time.
I realized very quickly that it is important to have a good relationship with the teachers and professors and that it was important to never let them down. Therefore, the times that I was at university, I always went to class, I was on time, I participated and always handed in everything on time. I am a reliable student. Through that, a teacher / professor could also be more supportive and trust me, word travels fast among teachers. 😊
Going off that, think about the fact that there are athletes that might have the same teachers / professor’s years after you. They will automatically have it a bit easier, thanks to your great work you’ve done back then. They will remember!
I have a great example of that during my Master’s in Sweden. When I injured my knee in 2016, I was just about to start a new class, but went home to Switzerland before it started to get checked by my doctor. I emailed the teacher right away and told him the situation and asked him if we could have a chat over the phone. A couple minutes later we were talking on the phone and he told me about a student that he had that played in the SHL (Swedish Hockey League) and how great of a student he was and that he would always make everything work. Long story short, thanks to him, I could stay in Switzerland from October until January to do my rehab! I participated in class through skype (school friend) and only had to go back to Sweden once in December for the oral exam.
Now if you’ve followed me a little bit, you’ll know that this situation of university doesn’t fully apply to me anymore. I am still a full-time student and do everything the same. The only part that changed is the scheduling. Because of the ME310 Saab project that I work on, I am at university every day from 9am until 5pm and in addition to that I work on my Master Thesis that is due mid-May. Basically, the project and the Master Thesis are a 100% work each and I’m doing it at the same time while still playing hockey next to that. Although it is incredibly stressful and my schedule is packed, I’m loving and enjoying every second of it.
So I hope you can use my advice in your profession and please feel free to make comments and ask questions and so on. I’m more than happy to help!
Lastly, and this is very important! I’m very disciplined, but I still enjoy life. If I don’t get the 9 hours of sleep but instead had a great night with friends, then this is even better. I am very focused on hockey, but my health will always be a priority. My schedule is packed from morning till evening, but I will always find time for my family and friends cause this is in my opinion the most important of all! 😊