What do you think of when you see the words “student life”? All-nighters, coffee overdoses, last-minute cramming sessions … We’ve all been there. And what is usually the product of all those factors? Why, stress, of course.

For many people, summer started quite a while ago. I, on the other hand, just finished writing my summer exams this past Saturday. No, you didn’t read wrong—I had not one, but two Saturday exams over the course of my eight-day examination period. Perhaps I should feel grateful there were no Sunday exams?

I currently study in England, where students are usually tested only once, at the end of the academic year, on what they remember learning. Coming from a North American background, I am still not used to this unfamiliar system, two years into my three-year degree program. The difficulties of adapting to differences in education style, having to deal with multiple annoyances regarding noisy neighbors and all the stress from studying actually led to my doctor diagnosing me with an anxiety disorder just about a month ago. My mental health had definitely affected my performance over the exam period; I was unable to concentrate on studying and for a time, I was even going to just pack my bags and leave for home instead of sitting those exams. In the end, however, I pulled through. The reason: I couldn’t bear to just give up.

Yes, so I’ve been unhappy at college … but it’s giving me life experience nonetheless. I am gradually beginning to recognize that avoidance does not always work. No one should keep running away from problems encountered each time. You will run into issues no matter how old you are and if you think on the bright side, there is nothing to lose in tackling said issues.

Sure, I struggled a lot trying to just survive past all those exams I had last week, but I can now say I passed a challenge. Not giving up on something, no matter how tough things get, is an admirable trait, I’ve realized. It shows your inner strength and that, by far, is the most valuable thing one can possess.

They say you can only gain through pain. Take it from me; it’s all true.