After a hectic Christmas, I have already submitted my first deadline of 2016 and am currently preparing to move back down to Exeter for the start of Term 2. New modules and challenges lie ahead, so I thought I may take the time to consider what I can do to make life easier for myself in the coming months by looking back at the previous term. These are not New Year’s resolutions as such, as I am terrible at keeping them, but more guidelines to help keep me on track while I tackle the new term.
Having spent most of Christmas in the kitchen eating everything that I could find, I thought that my student diet may be good place to start when considering the New Year. Now, I know many people try and change their diet after Christmas and do not always do so well, so I have decided not to make any radical changes, I just won’t spend all day with one hand in a packet of crisps and the other in a pack of mince pies.
The two things I will hopefully focus on is my cooking and packed lunches. I am sure I am not the only one to say I should probably stop eating pasta morning, noon and night, so I will attempt to vary my cooking. However, every ‘healthy eating’ recipe I find seems to require kale in vast quantities or ingredients that I don’t think the Sidwell Street Tesco even sells. This may have to be a gradual change. The other food related aim is to try and make packed lunches. I usually find that by the time I have stumbled out of bed, just about got myself ready and have had enough caffeine, even the thought of making lunch will make me late, so making one the night before may be a possibility. The problem now is what to make. Almost anything I have managed to make over the past year has bordered on offensively loud to eat in any study area, so some research and brain storming may have to be done.
Talking about study areas, that reminds me of my academic aims. I was rather proud of myself last term for avoiding my academic disasters and for the most part, avoiding any break downs over having to read a small library for my history module. However, while my time so far at Exeter has massively helped with my organisation, it is fair to say there is still work to be done. Looking at my friends, it appears that keeping a calendar is actually quite helpful, so that is one suggestion I will take on board that will hopefully avoid me from turning up half way through the seminar. My only concern is that I will spend more time colour coding the calendar instead of using it.
My second academic aim is getting my seminar and lecture reading done in plenty of time so that I can reflect on what I have read and how it relates to the wider topic. What has happened a few too many times is that I find myself so disorganised that I have had to bring my books with me to campus and then home again. As most history students know, walking with all your required reading in your bag is essentially a gym session, so at least I’m working out at the same time. I have found that Exeter does really encourage you to keep on top of your reading, because being in a seminar and being able to contribute and discuss with the tutor is so much more beneficial to you and your course mates than sitting there clueless, having never even heard of the author before. So, keeping on top of my reading is certainly important, especially as we grow ever nearer to exams.
When I’m not studying, I want to make the most of Exeter by attending as many events as possible. Even taking the time to walk around the city, especially the Quay and all the green areas, acts as stress relief and means I’ve been able to get to know the city. Student organised events are also wonderful, allowing you to feel like an active member of the university with the vast array of events always going on. One of my favourites was the carol service organised by the Evangelical Christian Union that took place at St James’ Park in December. It was attended by students and locals, with a local primary school performing a few carols. These sort of occasions are great for bringing everyone together and really help feel like you’re making the most out of your university experience in a new city. Keeping an eye out for events, even those organised by a society that I am not a member of, will hopefully help me see the city and make the most of my time at university.
My final, and perhaps most significant, consideration is the future. As with most second years, the realisation hits that in a year and a half you will be leaving university and will actually have to get a job and start your post-education life. I remain hopeful that there are many opportunities for me, but it is safe to say I still do not have a clue what I am going to do. Building on my aims of last term, I would like to start making the most of the advice that Exeter has to offer. My Career Zone has a host of talks, questions and answer sessions, work experience and general advice to offer and I fully intend to take advantage of this in the coming term. Last term I attended a few talks aimed at humanities students, and although the 8:30am start originally deterred me from getting out of bed, it was endlessly reassuring that there are plenty of other students in the same position as me, with a huge amount of support offered from the university. I have already begun to list what I definitely do not want a career in, so hopefully this term I can start adding to the list of what I do want to do.