Only four weeks into my master’s course and I can see it in the faces of my fellow peers. The moment when we ask “what have we gotten ourselves in to”? Surely choosing to do an undergraduate degree is one of the typical motions of life. Something expected. A master’s degree at one of the top universities in the country is not. The decision was pondered throughout third year or saved up for over a few years. There is no one else to blame but ourselves for thinking that an additional year of deadlines, exams and assessed public speaking would be a great idea.
We rant to our friends, vent to our personal tutor and toy with the idea of telling our parents that we have changed our minds. But it goes no further than that. The moment of panic passes. Mutual support from my peers have helped me get through the first term of my postgraduate degree.
Too often I get caught up in the daily stresses to enjoy my time at university where I am studying something I’m actually really passionate about. When that happens I know I need to slow down, take a break and grab a skinny late in the 4 West Café and dedicate all my attention to the latest gossip. Now that may not be how you like to spend time with your friends, but it is important to have a social base, even if it feels like it is unnecessary or pointless because you’re only here for a year. But a year is a very long time, regardless of how quickly it goes. Sometimes I get so worked up trying to achieve my best that I forget to take the time to breathe and appreciate all the perks student life has to offer and that will soon be gone.
As I live off campus like most master’s students, I like to make the most of my trips into uni and tend to stay for several hours. In a way it’s the best way to also maximise time with friends, as it always seems impossible to organise something off campus. We always break for lunch. By the time 12:30 rolls around we’ve had our eyes on the clock for the past hour and a half. The Calverton Rooms is our first port of call, though we have fun trying the different food venues.
After a big assessment hand-in day, my course mates and I regroup and go to the Student Union to grab a pint and try to not dwell on it too much. Though none of us are fans of pool, we do like to play ping-pong in the Plug. I think it’s really important to try and break up your day whilst on campus, and not only associate it as a place to do work. Have an annoyingly long gap between two lectures? Go to a gym class, partake in yoga or pilates. Hit the treadmill and sweat it out if it has been a really tough day.
My peers have made the most of the brilliant Graduate Centre Common Room. It’s an area in 4 West that can be used for studious work and more relaxing activities. There is a large collection of contemporary films on loan in the library, and an impromptu decision resulted in an early break from studying and watching Love Actually on the projector in the Graduate Centre in the weeks leading up to Christmas. We definitely bonded over the soppy romance and felt much better afterwards and we were able to attack our revision more positively the next day, because we had destressed.
Another thing to make sure to look out for are emails and messages on the TV screens. Yes, we do get inundated by tons of emails and half of them never seem relevant. However, sometimes there are great opportunities to have fun on and off campus. Make sure to take full advantage of those coffee mornings the PGBio society advertises weekly. Nothing says TGIF like tea and biscuits after a long hard week. It’s a great way to meet people doing different types of postgraduate degrees as I, myself, normally only see taught master’s students.
Events I went to this term include the Bath University carol service in the gorgeous Bath Abbey and the Science Showcase at The Edge and the PGBIO society Halloween party. The showcase was a particularly fun night of listening about a topic I am very familiar with, but and we can all agree a comedy cabaret is 100 times more entertaining than any lecture. I also made the time to attend the post-graduate welcome party in The Tub (top of the Student Union) at the start of term. Who says that post-graduate students can’t party and make use of those great SU prices and drink deals? Undergrads do not have monopoly on the fun in Bath. Letting my hair down and getting down with my friends quickly chases away any sense of worry. At least until the next morning.
I cannot stress enough the importance of making the most of your time. Set aside some free time for activities and socialising. All work and no play makes for a very dull student life and will quickly lead to you burning out and feeling demotivated. Your course mates or other students know exactly what you are going through and together you will go through the ups and downs of this crazy year. For the first time I consider myself an actual scientist. It has a lot to do with being surrounded by such like-minded people. Master’s are so specific and they require more passion than any previous stage of your education. The university offers numerous supporting services, but I find slowing down and chilling with friends the best remedy for most cases of the blues.