Michaelmas Term – Jenni Hanford

Michaelmas term is now well under way and I’m starting to feel a little snowed under. It’s always a shock to the system, coming back from a nice long summer and then feeling already behind by week 1! It feels like there is always something you could/should be doing and it can often feel like too much, but everyone is feeling the same. It’s important to remember you’re not alone and everyone will be feeling similar stresses and pressures, they just might be better at not showing it. If you ever feel like everything is too much, it’s essential you talk to someone whether it is friends/flatmates/family/academic supervisor; the important thing is you tell someone, a problem shared is a problem halved!

The year has only just started, but if you get organised now, it’ll make the rest of the year a lot easier. I always find myself procrastinating if I have something difficult to do/lots I need to sort, therefore I now make a schedule of what I’m going to do and when. Something may seem really daunting, but once you face it and break it down, it becomes a lot more manageable. I make a schedule including seminars and lectures, adding the extra study I need to do but also including time to relax and to attend various societies. It’s vital that you schedule time to take a break/do things you enjoy as that balance will improve your studies and university experience.

This year, as it’s my last, I’ve decided to join some new societies, so I’ve joined the culture society and I’m learning Mandarin. This may seem like I’m adding more work to my already busy schedule, but I love it! It’s so great as it’s not just about learning new words, it’s experiencing a new culture and meeting new people. That’s a great thing about societies, you can develop and learn skills essential for obtaining a job when you leave university and often you don’t even realise.

As a fourth year, I spend a lot of my time in the library and I think the refurbishment is amazing. There are so many more places to study and I really like the variety of single booths, desks and group study spaces. I also like the open feeling of the library and it’s a lot comfier, making studying a lot easier.

At the moment I am writing my dissertation, which I’m finding very challenging, as writing approx. 10,000 words is something I’ve never had to do before, as is the case for most people’s dissertations! I found the hardest thing was where to start, when you’re faced with such a huge amount to write, it’s very difficult to write those first few words. An important thing to get right is your proposal, if it outlines your thinking clearly and what you’d like to do, you’ll be starting from a strong place, which really helps the development of the rest of the dissertation. It’s also critical to write your dissertation on something you enjoy as you will be researching it in great detail and writing about it for a long time, so if you aren’t all that interested in it, you certainly won’t be 10,000+ words later.

I have found, naturally, over the 3 years at Lancaster that some modules are more difficult than others. This is sometimes due to the nature of the subject or can be based on your own skill set. The problem I have found is finding a balance between the amounts of work I do for difficult modules compared with those which seem ‘easier’. This can be quite a dangerous thing, as I often find myself spending all my time on one module and the others fall behind and, whilst they seem okay at the moment, when you come back to them at a later date, they are then much harder and you are constantly trying to catch up, which isn’t a fun situation to be in! To combat this it’s very important to be strict on time spent on each module. If something’s really tricky then obviously spend more time on it, but not to the detriment of all your other modules as they are all equal usually in terms of your final degree classification.

That’s all for this week, hope you are having a good start to the year and are enjoying this blog.

Thanks, Jen.