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Living fourth year by these four lessons

The four takeaways from my time thus far at the University and how I am using them to make my fourth and final year my best one yet

<p>&nbsp;I find these four lessons to be the most pertinent to myself now and what I hope my remaining time at the University looks like.&nbsp;</p>

 I find these four lessons to be the most pertinent to myself now and what I hope my remaining time at the University looks like. 

The start of this academic year marked something bigger for me than it has in years past — it marked the beginning of my fourth year. I will be honest in saying that it feels rather surreal that I am in my last year of college. My first three years at the University went by much faster than I could have ever imagined. 

I was a first-year when the pandemic hit and unfortunately, I lost a significant part of my traditional college experience as classes shifted online and social distancing guidelines were implemented. Since then, I have been trying to make up for lost time and plan to do so even more this year.

I already have a pretty good feeling that this year is going to be incredible. But in order to bring that to fruition, I am looking to what I have learned thus far and using those lessons to do so. With that being said, here are the four biggest takeaways I will be using to make my fourth — and final — year my best one yet. 

1. Balance.

Establishing and maintaining a good school, work and personal life balance has been key for me. Balancing the three is difficult, but so important. I make it an effort to schedule things with my friends for the weekend or between classes, as well as schedule dedicated study time for myself each week. This ensures that I am able to get my work done but also able to have fun and make memories with the people that make this place so special for me. Alongside that, I always schedule me-time where I can just decompress and do some self-care activities — that is just as important as academics and being social. 

2. Be spontaneous! Say yes! 

Going off of my previous point, it can sometimes feel easy to turn down friends because of all the work you may have. While I am a proponent of prioritizing academics as they are ultimately what most of us are at school for, I am also a huge advocate for taking opportunities as they come. In other words, say yes to the random hangouts with your friends and the late night adventures. College is a really special time and you deserve to make the most of it academically and socially! You never know what memories will come out of some spontaneity. 

3. Spend time outdoors.

I cannot emphasize enough how restorative nature is and how incredible it is for our overall well-being. The more time I spend outdoors, the more at peace I feel. If I’m outside, I try not to be on my laptop or doing homework and just enjoy the nature around me.  For me, this means choosing to walk to class rather than take the bus — regardless of how much sweat I may be drenched in during the summer or how frozen my fingers may feel in the colder months. I also try to spend more time with my friends doing things outdoors rather than hanging out in our apartments. Often, this takes the form of having picnics on the Lawn or taking walks around the neighborhoods we live in.. 

4. Explore! 

As a nursing student, it’s really easy for me to stay in the bubble of the School of Nursing as I spend the majority of my time there and I tend to stay in that bubble more often than not. However, I have found that intentionally spending time around other parts of Grounds and within the Charlottesville area has been so memorable. Some of my favorite memories — mornings at the Farmers Market, stargazing and exploring bookstores such as Daedalus downtown — have come from exploring outside of the places I usually keep to. I have yet to hike Humpback Rock, watch a film at the Virginia Film Festival or even visit Shenandoah National Park so I hope to do a lot more exploring in the upcoming months. 

Realistically speaking, there are a lot more lessons I have learned throughout the last three years. However, I find these four to be the most pertinent to myself now and what I hope my remaining time at the University looks like. Regardless of what year or capacity you may be in at the University, I hope that this piece can help ensure that you make the most of your time here. 

Zoya Zahid is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at 


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