How I Balance Life, Working Full-time, Grad School and Travel

How I Balance Life, Working Full-time, Grad School and Travel | Broke Girl Abroad

I’m towards the tail end of my MBA program and tbh, December 15th can’t get here fast enough. Grad school is hard. Working full-time while going to grad school is harder. Finding time to travel while working full-time and going to grad school? Difficult, but not impossible.

That being said, I won’t miss it.

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Attempting to squeeze in a vacation every now and again was extra complicated, because my program is accelerated. A lot of grad programs are embracing this model, so some of you might already know what I mean.

Basically, each course is seven weeks long. As soon as one ends, another begins. So there aren’t any breaks in between, like there would be for a typical semester schedule. My program also recently allowed students to double their course load (two courses at a time) provided they maintain a certain GPA. You can see where this is going.

I’ve been balancing two rapid fire courses, while working full-time and trying to get out once in awhile. I’m so, so tired.

But so are you, if you’re reading this and finding yourself in a similar situation. I want to let you know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I traveled. I saw stuff. I crossed destinations off of my bucket list and had a great time.

Whitefish Mountain Resort Scenic Chair Life, Montana | Broke Girl Abroad
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If you too wanna travel but also have the schedule from hell, allow me to shed a little light on how I did so. Then we can both pull an all-nighter before our accounting final.

Until then, here’s how I balance life, working full-time, grad school and travel.

I’ve Embraced Staycations

I’m very lucky in this aspect, since I live in Kansas City and there’s always so much to do. A few weekends back, my mom and I visited the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and had lunch in the Rozzelle Court. For two hours, I could pretend I was off in some Italian museum.

Rozzelle Court, Kansas City | Broke Girl Abroad
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As I’m writing this, I’ve just gotten back from a walk through the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. The leaves are starting to turn and it’s stunning.

Overland Park Arboretum | Broke Girl Abroad
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I also had one staycation where I did absolutely nothing. Slept in, ate takeout, and binge watched Brooklyn 99. That one was nice, too.

… but I’m Not Much Fun Anymore

Anytime a friend invites me out to drinks or a show, I always have to decline. Evenings and weekends are when I get my homework and studying done. Quite frankly, that time is precious. I spent an entire Friday night working on finance homework and only got halfway done. Yikes.

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This means that texting friends are my main ways of keeping in touch. There are certain lovely folks who I haven’t seen in person in months. I can’t wait to catch up with them over a nice weekend brunch and for once not worry about all the papers I have to write.

If you have good friends, they’ll understand that you have to prioritize your homework and your sanity. Thank goodness for texting.

Believe It or Not, You Can Still Go Abroad

My friend and fellow MBA student Harold made his first trek to Europe during our accounting class (widely regarded by many alumni to be akin to hell on earth). This may seem like a gamble, seeing as every week is full of necessary material, but Harold came prepared. He Skyped into class every single week during the two weeks he was gone. This meant he’d go to sleep around 3 a.m., but he did not miss out on any important material.

Burano, Italy | Broke Girl Abroad
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Harold is also a super driven student and not one to fall behind on assignments. Between working ahead before the big trip and catching up during dead time on his vacation, he got through the class with an A and a bunch of amazing vacation memories. He’s also going back to Europe in April… during another one of his classes. So trust me, mega trips can still be done.

Or, You Can Do Micro-vacations

I’m not sure who coined this term, but I love it. Micro-vacations tend to be less than a week, making them a bit more manageable for folks like myself. This would typically mean that each destination is within the continent (so no five-day trip to Argentina, for example) but can still be very recharging.

Whitaker Point, Arkansas | Broke Girl Abroad
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Here’s how my micro-vacations turned out:

  • March 21-24: Road trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas
  • April 18-21 (Easter weekend): Weekend trip to Chicago
  • July 3-6 (4th of July week): Holiday in Montreal
  • July 19-21: Weekend in Des Moines to catch a comedy show
  • August 18-20: Brief stay in Glacier National Park
  • November 1-3: Family visit to Ste. Genevieve, Missouri
Glacier National Park | Broke Girl Abroad
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That’s 21 days this year that I’ve spent traveling, despite school deadlines haunting me at every turn. That did mean I had to be flexible (two more days in GNP would’ve been perfect) but honestly? Better than nothing.

But… I’m Really Tired. Always.

School just does that to a person. Whether I was traveling or not, I felt drained. I think it’s just due to the toll school takes on you regardless of the program or speed. It’s a lot of mental energy to keep up, and that can really wear on a person. I’m trying my best to get a decent night sleep no matter what, but that of course is easier said than done. 

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One thing that is keeping me sane is yoga, and I’ve more or less adhered to 30 Days of Yoga with Adrienne, cause without it, I think I’d lose my marbles. Most of my classmates would agree that some exercise in some form is key. One of my friends takes a kickboxing class every week. Another goes on daily walks. You do what you can, but it works wonders. 

So there you have it. How to balance life, working full-time, grad school and travel, pus a few extra tidbits just cause I care.

In case anyone is curious, once I’m graduated, I’m going absolutely hog wild travel-wise. I’ve got a major bucket list destination planned for every month from December through February, and (fingers crossed) May will involve me hiking up Machu Picchu as a graduation present… from me to me.

Stay tuned, all. I’m about to be fun again! 

Are you struggling with how to balance life, working full-time, grad school and travel? Tell me about it in the comments below!

How I Balance Life, Working Full-time, Grad School and Travel | Broke Girl Abroad
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Cherish Calovich

Great article, Maggie! This is just what Grad students need ~ to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and until you reach it, you can still enjoy your life! I love the pics and memes, too!! 🙂

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