The Nucleus Advice Column: January
University life! The drama! The scandal! The . . . awkwardness. New England has some great academic resources, and whenever you have a question about your study, there are plenty places to go. But what about those embarrassing, oh-of-COURSE-I-know (no-I-don't) things about life, sex and other adult stuff that you just don't quite know how to ask out loud? Friends, I'm here, I'll try to be clear, and I am all about helping you out with my two cents worth. If you've got a question, submit to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll do my best to help. We won't show your email so you can remain completely anonymous, and odds are there are plenty of other people wondering the exact same thing. So ask away!
I want to break up with my “at home boyfriend” even though I promised him that moving to Armidale wouldn't change anything. How do I tell him without seeming like a total bitch?
If the only thing that you want to break up with is the long distance, I recommend giving the relationship the effort it needs. Long-distance relationships are work, but not as impossible as Hollywood likes to pretend. Otherwise, you need to explain to him that while you fully intended for things not to change, the fact is they have. Apologise for going back on your word, and keep this in mind for future endeavours: be aware of what things you can fully promise, and what things you wish you could promise. Above all else, do not remain in a relationship that you no longer want to put effort into. Not only is it incredibly unfair to the other person, it will only lead to resentment and very likely, a painful, messier breakup down the road.
I want to study for my exams, but I'm at home for tri 3 and I keep getting interrupted by my parents and siblings, even though I put signs up on my bedroom door. How do I get them to give me space?
Sit down with your family and explain to them how important this is to you, as well as how frustrating or hurtful it is for you that they aren't respecting the clear boundaries you have established. If they continue not to respect your wishes, you will have to find somewhere else to study – libraries are fantastic, of course. A park or someplace quiet outside is also good, if you can keep track of everything outside, otherwise most cafes will happily let you sit for as long as you'd like, provided you buy something every few hours, even if it's just a drink.
I want to get a gym membership when I get back to uni, but I'm afraid that by the time I get to Armidale again I won't feel motivated to go. What should I do?
WORKING OUT IS SO HARD. I completely understand the flashes of motivation, followed by long periods of 'eh, can't be bothered'. What's most important to recognise is that you will not always be motivated to exercise, and in order to maintain a routine, you will need to get over that and exercise anyway. Routine is key to this, and the longer you stick to a routine, the easier it will become to maintain it – and the easier it will be to return to if you take the odd rest day (or period, if you don't intend to exercise every single day). My advice for now would be to find an exercise you can do at home to establish that routine – youtube has plenty of yoga videos, otherwise even just googling a beginner's home workout routine will yield many results. That way, by the time you get to uni – if you have stuck to the routine – you will know you can maintain a routine, so you can be certain your money won't go to waste.
I feel like I'm not prepared for exams at all. I had some stuff go down, and now I'm way behind on my unit. How can I cope with the stress and still pass?
Firstly, look into seeing if you can get a justifiable excuse to extend/retake your exams. Having an appointment with a doctor, be it physical or mental depending on what you have been going through, and obtaining a certificate to present can be incredibly helpful. Regardless of if you feel your excuse is justifiable, there is absolutely no harm in giving it a go, and often times we do not give ourselves as much slack as we give others – meaning while you may think what you've gone through shouldn't hinder your studies (even though it has) many others might not see it that way. The other thing you can do is set up a study routine to work through what you need to catch up and revise on. Trying to cram everything in as once is just going to overload you and make things worse. Set aside X amount of hours each day, do your work during them, and then put it away and take a break. This will let your brain process and better retain what you have taken in. Finally, seek academic help. Find a fellow student, an RF, or speak with your lecturer about your concerns. Everything is easier with help, even if only in the form of a friendly face sitting beside you while you work. Don't let shame stop you from seeking help – I did, and I have a fair few regrets for it.