International Student is resting in bed.
International Student is resting in bed.
Balancing Act_International Student

Balancing Act

I’ll be honest, I thought I could do it all. I thought balancing a full-time internship with my masters and all my extracurricular responsibilities was possible.  I’m young, I’m active and I’m fit- okay the fit part was a blatant lie. Either way, I didn’t think managing work and  responsibilities was going to get to a point where it would become unmanageable. I, however, couldn’t have been more wrong.

The first two weeks I coped. It wasn’t easy but it definitely wasn’t the hardest thing in the world. The girls had my back and were dealing with our group assignment as to not stress me out. In all honesty, I might have almost forgotten about how stressful university was if it hadn’t been for Emily’s daily reminders. We all have those friends that bring you back to reality, oh so very quickly. She claims it’s out of love so I can’t get annoyed at her. (I was grateful she was keeping me in the loop, just don’t tell her that.)


I knew I had some big assessments coming up and I threw them so far into the back of my mind. That was a decision I had made on my first day of the internship (which was at my dream magazine). If I was going to be switched on and give them every ounce of energy I had, I couldn’t be focused or be stressed (visibly) on upcoming assessments. In my opinion, this was going to be my only chance to show them what I could do. The problem with that though, is that while I was doing well at the magazine, all that stuff, I pushed to the back of my head, eventually had to be dealt with, and in my case it was dealt with at the eleventh hour. As any student would know, that is never ever a good idea.

What was frustrating about this is that I’m usually prepared. I’m never one to look at an assessment the night before. That gives me anxiety just thinking about it. I have countless friends who do it though and they get amazing marks – curse them and their brilliant minds. I’m not that person though, I mean I wish I was, but I’m not. I just know if I was to do that I would fail and get feedback that reads “awful, looks as if you wrote it the night before.” I wouldn’t even be able to appeal that.

Unfortunately for me, the weekend was a complete write-off, not even in a relaxing fun way. I was struck down with the flu, and I was in that mindset where you think you can beat it if you pretend you’re not sick. I couldn’t and I got sick very quickly.  So instead of spending the weekend catching up on work, I was fighting for my life in bed (okay, slight exaggeration). It was only on the following Monday that it dawned on me that I had a significant amount of work due for university within the next 48 hours, and I knew there would be no leniency.


What was surprising to me though was there had been no meltdown, no frantic calls to mum. I was scaring myself with how calm I was with the prospect of potentially failing an assessment, so very out of character for me. If I have learned one thing from the past three weeks, it’s that breakdowns and self-pity parties are a waste of time. Save it for after the work has been handed in. I get it now, in reality, no one has sympathy for me, I chose to do this and I have no one else to blame (well maybe that one guy from the Australia day party who I’m 99% sure got me sick).

Either way, the assessment was handed in, and I fought back the tears as I did so. I accepted that I would just have to work my ass off for the next one. Walking to the tube I was feeling very deflated and drained. You know that feeling of helplessness, where there is nothing you can physically do to change the outcome, and it’s out of your hands completely. Then out of nowhere, I got a tap on the shoulder. I didn’t even have the energy to bite their hand off for interrupting the depressing song I was playing. “Your bag is undone, I just thought you would want to know” – I heard.  It was at that point I didn’t know if I should feel even more helpless or just optimistic that my laptop had not been yanked out of my very open bag.

By the time I exited the tube, with my bag now firmly done up, my feet were on fire. While I love wearing my very high heels to work I now have a good understanding of why people wear sneakers and change in the office. So, there I was walking and sweating from the tube (I have not yet decided if I enjoy the tube being a burning sauna or if it’s just an unnecessary hassle that makes me sweat and feel uncomfortable).


Then…I saw her and my heart instantly dropped.

A young girl, she is around my age, 22, shaking a coffee cup asking for change. It was only two months ago that I got her some dinner,  and sat down next to her for a chat. From our last conversation, I knew she was going to be at a hostel. Since then every time I have walked past her spot in the months to follow and she wasn’t there I was comforted in the fact that I knew she was warm and, more importantly, safe.

However, now she was back, cold and shivering.  I couldn’t look at her in the eyes, I walked past her and to the nearest Sainsbury’s. I bought a sandwich, chips, and water and went straight back to her . she did remember me and explained what happened with the hostel. Instead of pushing her for further explanation, I left her with the food. Then as I was about to walk away I choked,  I couldn’t help feeling a tremendous amount of guilt. It was beyond freezing and I was about to walk into the comfort of my warm home. “Do you have gloves?” I asked her and she shook her head. Instantly I ripped mine off, apologised for how dirty they were and I said my goodbyes.

I then set off into the extremely cold night, albeit glove-less, and in a state of shock. Every small little obstacle I had faced in the past three weeks seemed so insignificant and minuscule compared to the battle that girl is facing. When I go to sleep at night time it is in a bed. I got to sleep knowing  I have a home, friends and a family who love me.

I did it all

At the end of the day, once everything was put in perspective I actually felt happy, almost proud. Besides the little hiccup I had with my assessment I actually managed to balance everything. I received great feedback from the magazine and all my work was handed in. Also, I was able to have an article published in 60’s today about Elvis and Sinatra- now that’s a dream come true (ill link it below)

From now on no more tears when things gets tough (well I’ll try) because I now know what I’m made and capable of. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had already, I know not everyone gets to experience life how I do. So, I’m going to continue to work my ass off. I don’t just owe that to my family and friends but I owe it to myself as well.


Read this post and other stories on Madison’s personal blog

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