Forget Christmas season, it’s essay season in classics. We started with a review of another historian’s work, which in my opinion is essentially academic bullying. You don’t tend to do reviews in A-Levels or GCSE, as far as I know, so this was really a jump. To my surprise the review was actually enjoyable to write. I didn’t think I would enjoy critiquing another historian to that extent, I wonder what that says about my character. The review was for Introduction to Greek and Roman History, a module that first-year Ancient History students take. The reading required wasn’t too extensive, nor was it a lightweight. I personally overestimated the amount of reading that I’d have to do for this degree. In comparison to subjects like Law or straight History, our reading isn’t too heavy nor difficult. Our module convenors have been kind to us, for now.
The second essay I’ve written in the last three weeks, yes I said three weeks not three months, was for Greek Culture and Society, a compulsory module that all students in the department of Classics and Ancient History have to take. This essay was more similar to what you’d do at A Level History, so it wasn’t too foreign. One thing I’ve learnt about university essays is that they take a lot more preparation than just a five-minute plan before you write it. Well, at least in my case, it took at least 3-5 days to research and plan then a day to write it up. And when I say a day I mean the entire 24 hours. I write best in one sitting because my writing will flow consistently, even if it’s 2500 words. Then there’s another day to edit in a new refreshed mindset to pick out any mistakes. Neither of these essays were particularly awful (to my surprise), and whether or not the result is a first or a fail I’ll be happy regardless. With your first batch of essays for university, it’s more to do with effort and capability. The department does not want to judge you, they want to see what you can do and how they can push you. We’re lucky with the Classics department, the professors have been very supportive with any questions I have regarding the essays even if it’s at 2am.
The final essay which I’ve started planning is for Roman Culture and Society, another compulsory module for all Classics students. Initially, I was dreading this essay because the titles were so vague and broad. However, through planning I’ve realised that Alison, our module convenor, has provided substantial information and support in the lectures. I no longer need to search the earth for primary sources when she includes them in the lecture notes. For students worrying about university essays, you should really stop. If you’ve done A Level History, you’ll know how utterly painful it is to find primary sources. Before I started writing these essays I was worrying about how to find sources from 2000 years ago when all the sources I was experienced with were at most 100 years ago. The department has been amazing at providing help, with lectures dedicated entirely to essay writing skills. Overall, this first term has been a wonderful experience. Before I came to Warwick I was certain that I would purely be here to do my work and that’s all, but that narrative has completely shifted. Sure the workload is a step up from what you were used to at A Level but everything you gain here is worth it. I’ve been taught how to balance multiple aspects of my life, from remembering meal prep so I don’t starve for the week to consolidating what I’ve learnt in Latin. The friends I’ve made at university are the friends I’ll keep for the rest of my life (I’m aware of the cliché but don’t @ me).