Pause: Taking a break from university
Welcome to week 6 of term, feeling tired yet? I remember thinking that University would be less intense than A Levels, as I wouldn’t have lectures every day. Oh, how wrong I was.
Although I don’t have lectures every day, I’m still kept busy with things like assignments or reading. It’s not all academic work all the time though- I have lots of commitments with Societies too, and spend lots of my time running between activities. Plus, you still have to remember to look after yourself, unfortunately your clothes don’t wash themselves, and your dinner really won’t just be made by magic. And, after a while dealing with everything can take its toll on you.
Enter reading week.
Now, I should say at this point that not everybody gets a reading week. As a first year Classics student I wasn’t eligible for one, but I am for second and third year. Also, it isn’t just for relaxing. Reading week is designed as a time for you to catch up on any studies, and to get ahead on the assignments due for the rest of the term. As a Classics student, I have quite a few long essays due, as well as a variety of other assignments to be getting on with, all of which leaves me with plenty to be getting on with.
Reading week is a one-week pause for lectures and seminars, meaning that you have a week off any timetabled modules. It’s a break from learning new content, to revise any content you have already covered, a chance to reset your brain and just pause for a moment to appreciate how far you have already come. Reading week is halfway through a term, essentially a bit like a half-term, university style. So, given it’s halfway through my second of three terms, in my second of three years at university as an undergraduate, this time it has come with the startling realisation that I am now halfway through my degree. Honestly, I don’t think this has fully sunk in yet, as it barely seems like two minutes since I was beginning to brave it alone for my first week of term 1 in first year. But, somehow, I made it this far.
While reading week is about catching up on your academics, it’s also a chance to look after yourself in other aspects of your life too. For me, what I have found works best is to use most of reading week to intensely focus on my studies, but also take a couple of days out, away from university to breathe, and visit family. In term 1, I went to see my sister, this term I’m going to my grandparents. It doesn’t have to be long- I’m only going to be away for two nights in total. But, while I’m there, I use it as time to switch off from university. Sure, I still do things like checking my email on my phone to make sure that there’s nothing urgent requiring my attention, and check I haven’t forgotten any deadlines. If I am feeling productive, then I will work on things. However, I just get to spend my time with my family, which is something I enjoy, as well as enabling me to take a few days away from the usual stresses.
If you do get a reading week, then I would recommend taking a couple of days out to look after yourself. You don’t even have to go far to do it. From campus you can easily go to Coventry or Leamington Spa for a day trip. Leamington has quite a few nice parks, or you can just use the time to explore the local area. At the end of the day, the important thing is to give yourself enough time to pause properly, to breathe, and move forward feeling refreshed, and ready to finish strong for the end of term.