Winston Churchill would take a two-hour nap and TWO BATHS every day. WOWZA.
Even during World War II, he would take a break to lay down in his bunker bed. If he heard sounds coming from the map or switch room, he would sassily bang his cane on the pipes to say “shut up.” Then, well-rested, he would proceed to defeat the Axis powers.
Churchill wrote in The Gathering Storm, the first volume of his memoir ‘The Second World War,’:
Nature had not intended mankind to work from 8 in the morning until midnight without the refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts 20 minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces.
I learned about Churchill’s sleepy tendencies while visiting the Churchill War Rooms while studying abroad in London. The statement caught my attention as I dragged my feet from room to room, exhausted from visiting Buckingham Palace the day before and doing a walking tour the day before that and going to a bar with a ball pit the day before that and vintage shopping the day before that and having orientation the day before that and… whew!
When studying abroad, it is so easy to get caught up in the pursuit to do everything. Yet, it is impossible to do everything without getting tired. In the Churchill War Rooms, I found myself mindlessly doing rather than enjoying. It hit me: if Churchill allowed himself to rest during a world war, why am I not allowing myself to rest while studying abroad?
Rest is necessary to have a good time, after all, lack of rest can cause irritability, impatience and moodiness. Rest can help you retain new information. You can then actually remember all that you discover in museums and tours (along with remembering the way to get to and from the BU dorms). Rest also keeps your immune system in shape so that you can enjoy your time, rather than lie in bed with a cold.
But… as a college student, it is so easy to forget to rest. I get it! Abroad is hyped-up to be a life-changing experience. Before you hop on the plane, you are bombarded with “places to go” lists from friends and grandparents begging for endless pictures. Plus, late-night Instagramming plunges you into an “am I doing enough?” spiral. I am here to tell you that studying abroad is equally life-changing without seeing everything.
It is the small things about this experience that are beautiful. It is the quiet walks to and from class on the cobblestone-paved Kensington streets. It is trying out new British brands at the grocery store. It is finding a coffee shop you love, going back there, and making it “your place.” It is not hitting up four parks, three museums, two pubs, and seeing Paul McCartney in a day.
There are easy ways to incorporate rest into your busy abroad experience. Here are a few of my favorite ones:
- Take one evening off during the week to stay in and watch Netflix– you don’t have to drink every night!
- Create a rest routine. For example, you can take a 15-minute nap every day or have a dedicated bedtime.
- Give your mind a break and allow yourself to turn off. You don’t have to be planning or learning 24/7. Take the time to zone out once a while.
- Be alone. You don’t have to go everywhere with a big group of people. Feel free to enjoy a meal to yourself.
The first day in London, I found myself already panicking about not having enough time to explore everything on my wish list. After hearing my worries, my mom sent me this picture:
And thus, Arnold Schwarzenegger has become my inspiration for London experience. This semester isn’t my last time to experience traveling, learning, and meeting new people. I will be back. I will have opportunities to travel in the future. So why rush to do everything all at once? I’m going to take my time, be rested, and enjoy things mindfully. Woo!
Hannah Schweitzer, Study Abroad Correspondent
Hannah Schweitzer is a junior studying Advertising with a minor in Film/Television at Boston University. She is currently studying abroad in London and interning at Catsnake, a viral video and storytelling agency. In her free time she enjoys performing improv comedy with BU’s Liquid Fun, hosting her sex positive radio show, Love Is On The Air, and eating York Peppermint Patties. Hannah is a COM Ambassador and is happy to answer any questions about life in COM at firstname.lastname@example.org!