As the first in my family to graduate from college and then complete a master’s degree and a PhD (in a foreign country no less!). I know a little something about beating the odds and conquering challenging times.

Here I will provide a few tips that kept me going when I was struggling during my studies:

  1. Maintaining a long-term perspective: Remember why you are majoring in or why you have taken on the degree in the first place. Thinking about your long-term goals will help to maintain perspective and to get you motivated to keep going.
  2. Adjust your path: If motivation is lacking perhaps you have taken the wrong path. Consider whether or not your major (or even advisor), thesis or PhD topic is really fitting for you. You may find it necessary to make some changes to your surroundings which is likely to get you back on track and motivated again.
  3. Remember to be grateful: As a first-generation college student I knew how statistically unlikely it was for me to be at the university in the first place. Which made me grateful to have the chance to learn about new topics and to meet new people. Being grateful also motivated me to jump on new opportunities and take advantage of anything presented to me.
  4. Take breaks and live life: A European friend once asked angrily, “when are you going to live life?, what she meant was that I was neglecting to take breaks during my studies and she was right. If you’re feeling fatigued, take a break! I discovered during my PhD that taking a break to get some exercise or hangout with friends for example helped me to get my concentration back and to work more efficiently.
  5. Ask for help: It is wise to reach out to professors, fellow students and family for support if you are struggling. They can’t support you if they don’t know that there is a problem. Remember, you don’t have to take on the world alone.
  6. Don’t give up: I have heard it said that half the battle is just showing up. So, show up and keep doing it. I’m convinced that half of the reason for my success is that I kept showing up relentlessly.