Pursuing an architecture degree is not an easy thing to do as architecture students need to learn how to be a jack-of-all-trades. This means mastering multiple skills at once, but it doesn’t mean we have to forget to take care of our well-being!
The lifestyle in my lower years was not easy. And although it’s not a piece of cake on my higher years of being an architecture student, it does get better. From no-sleep to 8-9 hours of sleep a day, from stationary to an active lifestyle, from one priority to a well-balanced life, the transformation throughout is real!
Despite all the hardships, however, pursuing an architecture degree is truly worth it if you want it. If you’re unsure about it, check out my 13 Reasons Why Choose Architecture to give you more reasons to give it a go!
#1 “The College that Never Sleeps” is both a myth and a fact
When I was just starting college, the phrase “The College that Never Sleeps” was almost always mentioned. It was the label of our college. We’re the zombies who’re at school by day but do work all night. I remember asking an upper batch about this phrase if it was a literal thing and she told me that it was. Now that I’m in my 5th year at university, I can say that it doesn’t have to be.
In my first year, I was in school from 7 am to 4 or 5 pm. I go to the library ‘till 7:45 pm (closing time) in order to study for my non-architectural or “gen-ed” subjects, then I go home and do my architecture plates next. On average, I get about 3-5 hours of sleep per day. It’s hard to say exactly when it was bedtime since it varies depending on my energy levels and the load of plates that I have. I just kept in mind that I have to get out of the house by 6-6:30 am.
In my second year, although my amount of sleep was quite the same, I realized I’ve had blockmates who get 8 hours of sleep daily. This shocked me! This was not usual for me to hear and these people are still excelling! I thought that in order to succeed in college, you’d have to burn the midnight oil. Apparently you don’t. Eventually, on my way through 3rd, 4th, and 5th years of being an architecture student, you can really still do good in school and get the right amount of sleep. It’s just a matter of priorities.
#2 For energy, you either rely on coffee or sleep
I’m one of those people who’s not really a complete fan of coffee but I’ve had my lattes. I personally prefer tea. However, ever since my second year at uni, I seem to have lost the energy entirely and doing things was just extremely difficult. I can’t do all-nighters anymore, my body just doesn’t let me. There was a time in my first year when I was able to live for 2 days without sleep but on my second, it seemed impossible. I realized I needed a way to get back my energy every now and then. The only way I thought of was sleep.
A lot of architecture students you’d hear about probably would go for coffee or energy drinks but sleep was the natural way for me. I wasn’t liking the bitterness of coffee and I would palpitate with it. I drink water to stay up sometimes, but I realized that the energy given by sleep is different.
With coffee and drinks, I can stay awake but I find that my brain doesn’t function very well – I can’t think properly. With sleep, I regain energy AND focus. We’re able to function a lot more with sleep so I highly suggest you sleep or take naps when you’re really tired. As architecture students, we work long nights to get good quality work done but will there be “good” quality when we can’t function to the fullest? I can’t say for sure.
Tip: To keep myself going when I really need to do some work and can’t take naps, I sometimes watch Youtube videos that inspire me more to be productive, giving me a boost of energy, even just a little bit. I still do believe that sleep is really important and I really like informative videos such as this one, relating to sleep.
Related: 7 Tips to Keep Yourself Motivated
#3 Your wallet will lose weight
In relation to #2, I may not rely on coffee but I DO rely on coffee shops! I’m guilty of spending too much for this. In my second year up to 5th year, I go to coffee shops by day then work at home by night. Especially this 5th year where I’m mostly free of classes since we’re focused on our thesis. If I stay at home, it’s most likely that I’ll end up sleeping through the day — a scary but not an unusual thing!
If you don’t do coffee shops, that’s great! But sadly, other reasons why my wallet loses weight is that I spend a lot of it on food and materials, although sometimes I bring my own snacks everywhere to lessen the spending. Spending on architectural materials is usual for freshmen in college due to manual drafting, drawings, sketching — plate making in general. When you go digital, it’s the printing that costs a lot. The cost depends on the size of the board or paper but you know the drill, the bigger it is, the more expensive it gets.
Don’t be scared of all the expenses. Architecture may be known as a costly course, however, there are discounts you can get from different organizations. If you don’t drink coffee or tea and can get work done at home and make your own food then you’ll only have to budget on the materials which happens mostly on every new architecture plate, in our college, at least.
#4 You’ll get stagnant (but you don’t have to be)
The feeling is awful. A stationary lifestyle makes you feel so bad and the only exercise I got from my lower years is my walks on my commutes — which wasn’t easy considering the heat and pollution of the environment!
In the beginning years of architecture students, the schedule is usually packed. I didn’t think I could exercise much considering I was also lacking sleep. Right now in my 5th year, I go to the gym at least twice a week. I realized it was a matter of choice and priorities.
In my lower years, I knew that I wasn’t getting enough exercise and so I would move every time a choice was presented. I walk when I can and when it’s not too hard or unsafe, I take the stairs (even up to the 8th floor!) instead of taking the elevator, I also jog in the morning on days that I can.
There are really architecture students out there who manage to put exercise in their schedule so remember, you can too! Just make sure you ate and slept enough beforehand.
#5 You’ll get devoted to your work (it’s both a good AND a bad thing)
Priorities. I don’t know how many times I mentioned that already. The lifestyle of architecture students, just like in any other field, is about priorities. You might think that prioritizing your work over everything else is the right way to do it — prioritizing it over your friends, family gatherings, and even yourself. But as soon as you reach the upper years, you’ll realize that it doesn’t have to be that way. You CAN succeed at school without having to sacrifice so much of your health, family, and other relationships. Other people did it, we can too. We just have to figure out the right balance.
It’s normal to forget balance as we put so much time and effort into our work. In turn, we give so much value to it. But it doesn’t mean we have to devalue everything else.
Tip: I keep in mind my list of ordered priorities whenever I schedule different things. Doing self-management and time blocking helps me view if my schedule reflects my priorities well.
What lifestyle would you expect as architecture students?
- “The College that Never Sleeps” is both a myth and a fact
- For energy, you either rely on coffee or sleep
- Your wallet will lose weight
- You’ll get stagnant (but you don’t have to be)
- You’ll get devoted to your work (it’s a good AND a bad thing)
Now, I’m not saying that all architecture students go through this phase. This is just based on my experience and based on what I also hear from other people’s experiences. Remember that yours may be different. Just because I told you that I slept for 3-5 hours in my first year doesn’t mean that you should too. It’s all about priorities.
I hope this helps you in some way. If you’re one of the aspiring architecture students reading this post, be sure to check out my 5 Tips for Freshmen in Architecture School! Even if you’re not a freshman, there you’ll see the things that help me succeed throughout college.
Any of these tips helpful? Feel free to share more down in the comments! Feel free to share it with your fellow freshmen architecture students. You can sign up for our newsletter for more exclusives on How to Succeed in Architecture School!
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