HBO’s fantastically successful Game of Thrones has been captivating us for years. But the series with the dragons has stolen a lot of time from those still at university - much of which might have been better spent hitting the books.
So what if we pretend for a second that watching Game of Thrones serves as a study session itself? Because in many ways, the series’ characters impart on us a lot of wisdom about student life and how to handle university:
(Ned Stark and other Stark family members, in just about every episode.)
Replace “winter” in this quote with “exam time” and you got the one golden rule overarching the full duration of your studies. Be honest: How many times did you end up simply cramming the night or, at best, the week before an exam? Instead, remind yourself regularly that the exams will come, and motivate yourself for study sessions during the term. You will thank yourself later.
(Tyrion Lannister, season 1, episode 2.)
Here’s another advocate of regular study sessions: Just like a sword needs to be whetted to stay sharp, you should keep your mind sharp by staying on top of your course reading. It’s also always a good idea to seek out material beyond the books and journals specified by your lecturers. That way you gain a much better understanding of your academic discipline and can put everything you learn into perspective.
(Daenerys Targaryen, season 1, episode 1.)
For those that study abroad: Make an effort to learn the local language. Although locals might be able to speak English - especially at university - you should not rely on it, unless of course English is the local language. Learning a new language will broaden your horizon, deepen your understanding of the local culture and allow you to make the most of your time studying abroad. Plus, all your local friends and acquaintances will appreciate it. In the series, Daenerys owes much of her success to understanding foreign cultures and languages. Likewise, being able to say “thank you” in your host country’s language should only be the beginning for you.
(Sam Tarly, season 5, episode 8.)
What Sam shares here is a general life lesson rather than something that only works at university. And it’s true, as much for women as for men. The hard choice might be studying when others are partying; working to pay your tuition fees when you’d rather take a day off; or switching subjects when you realise Art History appeals more to you than Accounting. If you’re really certain about something, don’t let other people’s opinions throw you off.
(Tyrion Lannister, season 3, episode 10.)
Here’s a lesson that many first-year students learn already during Freshers Week - but for some reason they keep having to re-learn it over and over again. Sure, university is the most exciting time of your life. But don’t party too hard - otherwise you won’t get much out of your education. Case in point: Most of Tyrion Lannister’s successes happen when he is sober.
(Sam Tarly, multiple episodes)
By now it should have become relatively clear that many of the lessons students can take from Game of Thrones are about buckling down and studying. Samwell Tarly (read our interview with actor John Bradley) has developed into one of the unlikely heroes over the progress of the series, and he owes a lot of that to his thirst to learn new things. Many viewers speculate that thanks to his vast knowledge, he will play a key role in fighting back (and hopefully defeating) the White Walkers in season 8, the final season.
(Ygritte, multiple episodes.)
For supposedly knowing nothing, Jon Snow has made it pretty far. Perhaps he owes that to what’s at the core of Ygritte’s statement to her lover: Always be humble, and never forget that you still have a lot to learn.
All photos: HBO