It’s that time of year again; exams are upon us and essay deadlines are looming. This is one of the most stressful times of year for students, when Hartley library is full at 8.30am and the queues for coffee are often miles long. Summer is so close, yet so far; we have to get past these deadlines first!
I tend to avoid the library at this time of year. I prefer to work in my room in my little flat. For me, it’s a comfort to know I can take a break without the fear of losing my seat, eat what I want when I want, and make as many cups of tea as I like without paying for it every time. It also means I can work in my pyjamas… which happens rarely, but normally at the very end!
I have plenty of library books to read through for these essays!
This is, admittedly, one of the less appealing things about being a student. I’ve written blog posts about places to visit, nights out, and everything I do aside from my degree; but really, we’re here to study first and foremost and it’s a fact of reality that, if you are coming to university in the future, you will get stressed and you will have to work hard.
The view from inside the library on Level 1 early in the morning
I find, however, that it’s exciting (as twisted as that sounds). Since the realisation that I will be leaving in four months has hit me, I am trying to enjoy the work I am doing. After all, when else in your life can you explore things, write about what you want at an academic level, and stretch your intelligence? When else can you decide to work until 3am because that’s when the inspiration hits you, without worrying about getting up for your 9-5 full time job the next day? The academic side of being at university can be just as exciting as everything else – or maybe that’s just my nerdy side talking.
Personally, I get really excited when I can discuss my essay questions with my peers. It’s an absolutely fantastic place to be here at Southampton; you are surrounded by like-minded people who want to further their education and who will be able to, and will want to, discuss the connection between Wollstonecraft’s novels, or temporal imagery in Whitman’s poetry. In the big wide world, it will be rare to come across someone who will talk as avidly about such things with you over the coffee machine in the office. University is a hub of knowledge, and as stressful as it is, it is also rather exciting and very inspiring. I know I shall miss it very much when I am gone, especially since I have always been an academic at heart.
Reading has always been a passion for me,
and I’ve enjoyed taking it to the next level while at university!
Over my four years here I have seen my ability to write grow, both in academia and elsewhere, like articles and blog entries. I have been able to look at books in an entirely different way, and have progressively challenged myself with my essays as I became more and more comfortable with my academic writing. I have written (probably) nearly 50 essays in my time here and am currently preparing to start my postgraduate dissertation over the summer; a whopping 20,000 words!
It may be hard at times, but I have loved testing myself and increasing my knowledge here at Southampton in the fantastic Humanities faculty. It’s safe to say the brilliant lecturers and tutors I have had have inspired me and pushed me further, and have made me want to work harder.
There’s also the fact that not everyone in the world has access to education, and even just one hundred years ago women were not encouraged or even allowed into university. I have the ability to study here, and I will take the opportunity and relish it, because it really is a privilege and, as my Dad keeps reminding me, ‘knowledge is power’.
So if you’re studying for your exams at uni at the moment, writing your final essay, doing your A-Levels or even just starting sixth form, you may be wondering why I am writing such an enthusiastic post about something that causes so much stress and pressure in our lives. I am sure, however, that in a year’s time I will miss the deadlines and the seminars and the pressure; this is the only place where you can sit with like-minded people and discuss literature (or whatever you study) without feeling out of place. I have graduate friends who look back In fondness at being asked to think about things that you wouldn’t normally consider. The stress, I find, is worth it in the end – because I love studying, and university is the place for me!
As I write my final essays before my dissertation, I will relish the early starts, comfort food and panicked phone calls and Facebook messages to friends and family, no matter how much pressure I am under. I’m very lucky to be here, and I’ll be making the most of it!