Balancing Academics and Social Life: Interview with Alexys

Meet Alexis! 

Hola! I am from a little town called Mogotes in Colombia. 🇨🇴

I used to be a professor but decided to quit and embark on a journey to learn English. I’ve been to Australia and Europe for my education and finally got a grant for my doctorate at OSU. My main interest of study is the effect of natural hazards. One of my hobbies is traveling! ✈️

I was first introduced to IFI at an Independence Day party. I met Phil Foell, IFI Columbus Area Director, and shared with him how I needed help; Phil didn’t even think twice. Since that moment, I’ve been connected with IFI and even stepped up in leadership as an IFI Columbus student leader! My Ph.D. and my social life are the main things I’ve got going on– they’re important to me and interrelated with IFI activities. 

I hope this interview helps you with balancing your academic and social life. Trust me, es posibile! (it’s possible) 🙌

1. What’s your current workload? Are you finding it hard to balance your academics with your social life?

I have two more years to get my Ph.D.; I’ll get it at the end of 2025! Right now, I’m done with my credits, but still have to complete a minimum amount of hours for research. 

I think your current workload really depends on your academic advisor because some are more flexible than others. Initially, I had trouble with my advisor; I was studying too much and not feeling like I was good enough for them.

One thing to keep in mind is to be aware of your limits and to maintain healthy boundaries. I’m so happy to do what I’m doing here and love my research work; however, I know my Ph.D. isn’t the main part of my life, but it’s my social and spiritual life. Life goes fast and we must enjoy it! So I say yes to invitations from my IFI family and other friends, I exercise, I watch movies, etc. 

Life gives us multiple options; it’s a matter of choosing and finding the balance, and I’ve been on a journey to finding it for the last three years. I try to take time off for Bible studies, physical exercise, enjoying the weather, and staying connected to my friends. Amidst that, I must stay organized and efficient. I ask myself this question: Are you doing your work and a little bit more? And my answer is always yes. 

2. How much do you study per week? Do you have a study schedule and time for fun? Do you study whenever you have free time? Strategies for managing the balance?

I’m not sure about the number of hours I study per week, but here’s what I know: I need to try getting good sleep so I can be efficient the next day (sometimes it’s not possible, but the idea is to keep trying!). I need to avoid using my phone at night due to mindless scrolling. I need to prioritize and make lists of activities, such as creating time slots and daily/weekly challenges for myself. I need to have a set plan for my day, especially as a Ph.D. student (it’s personalized and up to me to get good results!). I need to stop watching TV and instead practice my guitar! Lastly, I need to exercise to release energy and get air. 

3. How do you manage distractions during your study time?

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again– limit your screen time, such as watching TV and using your phone. Be aware of your social media use, too. Just keep it simple!

4. Have you ever made sacrifices in your social life to keep up with your academics?

I’ve had to make sacrifices all my life. In order to get the grants I received, I had to be the best student. Do I have a perfect social life? No. But it’s still good! My main focus is research, probably about 8 hours a day; my job is to study! I enjoy research work and it also allows me to get more opportunities for myself and my family. I’m a hard worker, but I always try to balance my academics with my social and spiritual life. 

5. Have you ever reached out for support/resources to help you find a balance? If so, what was helpful?

Yes– IFI services!

6. What would you tell a student who says, “But I have so much studying to do” as an excuse to not get involved on campus or meet people?

This might sound harsh, but I’d say they didn’t organize their time right. They might’ve prioritized playing video games, sleeping, playing with their friends… then at the end of the day, they have loads of work piled up. In order to avoid this, you need to organize your time from the beginning. First, go to your classes. Second, take good notes. By doing these things, you’ll be able to study less because it’s already retained. Third, start projects earlier, as they usually are more time-consuming; don’t procrastinate! Fourth, attend study groups and study sessions offered by the university. Fifth, don’t forget to pray amidst planning! As a result of taking these steps, you’ll have a clearer purpose and focus for the day. 

7. What is the sweet spot of academic and social life? How does one affect the other?

They can be a nice combo if you take advantage of it! Usually when you’re in school, you’re young and surrounded by many people and resources. There are free gyms, support, and multiple options for both studying and socializing. It’s possible to have a sweet spot between academic and social life. Take me, for example– I’ve been enjoying all the people I know and all the places I’ve been while studying, which is amazing! If you have the idea in mind and the opportunities, you’ll find it!

8. What do you think is the main reason students may be tempted to spend too much time studying? What are some indicators that someone is spending too much time on school?

There are a couple of possibilities. One, their advisors might be pushing them too much and they don’t know how to stop. Two, they’re not organized enough or doing the work in the hours they had. Three, they had too high of expectations for themselves as far as grades, scholarships, and better opportunities. It’s okay to have standards for yourself; however, everything has to have a threshold. 

9. What do you wish you knew before college in regards to this? What would you tell your freshman-year self?

I’d tell my freshmen-year self this: Dear Alexys, we have seasons in our lives. Some seasons are for working harder, some are easier; but if you’re working too hard, you’re wasting your life! Also, it’s not about the material things, to obtain all the knowledge, money, or productivity. What’s more important is to have a solid community, a group of people with good intentions related to life and life with others. If people follow Jesus, that’s a plus! This community will be able to support you in your challenges and can pray for you, so share your life with them! Lastly, never forget that academics is just a tool; it’s not the main thing. 


We hope you learned a thing or two from our dear Colombian friend! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or if you have anything else to add! 

And OSU students: make sure to connect with him on campus if you ever see him around! I’m sure he’d love to talk with you 😁 

Until next time! Hasta luego 👋

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