As Humanities students, we have a reading week in Week 6 of term. It’s a great opportunity to get on top of the reading for the coming weeks, start thinking about essays coming up in the second half of term, and reset after a busy start to the academic year. I remember in my First Year feeling a little apprehensive about reading week — was I expected to come back to uni with all my reading done? What was I supposed to do with this time in the middle of term? Like a lot of things at uni, it’s really all in your hands! We’re coming to the end of reading week now, and with a few firmly under my belt, I’ve been thinking about what I like to get out of this time. No one gives you any strict instructions or expectations on how to use this time, so in this blog, I’d like to share my priorities for reading week and what I personally like to get out of it.
- Look ahead to essays and deadlines for the rest of term
If I have an essay coming up in a few weeks time, I might start thinking about it in reading week. If you’re super organised, you could even start researching or putting a question together — you’re future self will definitely thank you for this! But for me, I find it useful simply to plan when I’ll be working on it and just start mulling it over. If I know what question I might be answering, I can keep it in mind in seminars and when I’m reading until I actually come to write the essay. You could even set yourself some ‘deadlines’ a few weeks in advance to start researching, planning, and writing. A little organisation goes a long way!
It’s a good time to re-organise and feel a bit more on top of things. Moving into another academic year often means a different workload and new priorities to balance, so having had a few weeks practice, by reading week you might have a better idea of how you can manage your time. With a break from lectures and seminars for a week, it’s a good time to organise the final weeks of term and hopefully stay on top of things!
2. Do some reading for the next week
As every Humanities student will tell you, there’s plenty of reading! I study History, so have to read a few critical articles and chapters for each seminar every week. This takes up most of my time in the week, so getting the reading for the next week done during reading week makes life a bit easier. It can be tricky in the first few weeks of term to balance everything the new year throws at you, but reading week is a chance for me to get some work done and find a better balance for the rest of term. I always feel much more on top of things after reading week, so I like to think of it as an opportunity to make things easier for myself in the second half of term.
3. Have a breather!
I know I’ve put it third in my list, but this is my priority. Term time can be pretty hectic (I don’t know what it is about being at uni, but everyone just seems to be busy all the time!). As fun as this is, I always look forward to reading week as a time for me to slow down and have a break. I make sure to plan things with my family and friends from home, but even if you stay at uni — as a lot of people do — I’d really recommend having some downtime. The last thing you want is to burn yourself out, so I can’t stress enough how important it is that you give yourself a break in reading week. You have no lectures or seminars, so use this time to de-stress and come back to normal term time refreshed! Following on from the last two tips, if you can use this time to relax, get some work done for the next week or two, and make sure you’re ready for any deadlines coming up, you’ve put yourself in a much better position to get the most out of term and really enjoy the next few weeks.
However you’ve spent it, I hope you’ve had a great reading week and are looking forward to the final weeks of term!