In my Master’s Programme: Complex Adaptive Systems
, the majority of my classmates are Swedes and my way of working was completely different. In Mexico, I was not used to studying in groups for an exam. Commonly, everyone studies alone weeks before the exam and students work in the evening on their assignments to be able to enjoy the day. I still remember that I finished my first class and my classmates immediately approached me to ask if I wanted to study with them, but I said no. BIG mistake.
As the days were passing by and I saw that all Swedes studied right after the class. I thought maybe I should do it too, but when I discussed with a Colombian friend he thought in the same way that I did, so I let it go. Again, big mistake. In the second week of school, I noticed that my classmates had almost finished the first assignment when I was just about to start working on it. Finally, I realized that the assignments are planned in such a way that you have to work on them immediately after leaving the class. So, even though I tried to keep up with my classmates I was never going to get there, I had already lost one-eighth of the entire course.
Subsequent to have noticed my big mistake, now it was me who asked my classmates if we were going to
study at the library together. But I still found that their way of studying was different. They focus 100% on what they are doing and the world around them somehow disappears, while I tried to talk to them, they barely responded to what I was saying. I thought they were upset or perhaps I had said something wrong. But turns out that was not the reason! My Swedish friends taught me that while we work we should concentrate on the tasks to be as efficient as possible. Then we talk during Fika time (Swedish coffee-break culture which involves warm drink – usually coffee or tea, and some sweets!). Furthermore, I noticed that at 5 pm everyone got up and started leaving, at first I thought it was a coincidence or that there was some important event in the city, but later I found out that the time to stop working is at 5 in Sweden and then you can enjoy your afternoon.
After all, I started to put this into practice and I realized that this way of working is very efficient and balanced. I started to finish my assignments on time and still had plenty of time for my other activities. It was a really big change for me. I was used to enjoying the day and working later, but it was not an efficient method, because you end up enjoying less and working more. Now when I want to talk about random stuff or check my mobile when we are studying in teams, I learn to avoid doing it and I wait for Fika time instead.