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Comment – Summer 2011

by Sophie

It’s been a long year, but it’s nearly over

Jonnie Critchley reflects on the end of the academic year.

Two weeks to go. That’s what I keep telling myself at the minute, and doubtless I’m definitely not the only one pushing my now-mushy brain further than is probably reasonable or ethical at the end of a long, hard slog of a year.

It’s ironic that my concentration levels are currently at their lowest ebb since last summer as I approach my last two exams (I’ve sent two emails and Facebook-stalked a friend just now as procrastination from writing this, which in itself is procrastination from revision), but I think it’s also indicative of the amount of effort students have to put in over the course of a year, in both curricular and extra-curricular activities.

A great majority of us have spent the academic year snowed under with reading, deadlines and exams, yet still managing to meet commitments with societies, student politics and sports, and still somehow find time to breathe in amongst it all. This is becoming the norm, because we all know how much pressure there is to stand out from the crowd when we graduate (not to mention to get value-for-money out of our degrees).

Consequently, is it any wonder that we melt down into crumpled heaps, jabbering wrecks reeling off lists of quotes from Paradise Lost for no apparent reason? That last bit might just have been me, but it shows the effect of this lifestyle (which is wholly unrepresentative of reality) upon students.

The insular nature of university, especially on a campus such as ours, doesn’t help either. It creates a pressure-cooker effect, which builds through the year and reaches a critical point sometime after Easter. Something’s going to have to blow, so it’s a good job we have a week of Extravs’ to look forward to.

After that, I’m off to lie in a darkened room until September.

This article was published in Pendragon, Summer Term Issue Two.


Easter – a time to work?

Emily Robertson bemoans the impossibility of working from home.

A whole month off for Easter: a whole month to catch up on the massive amount of reading for an English Literature degree, a whole month to write my final piece of coursework, a whole month off to start that all-important revision. And I’ve been at home away from all the distractions of university, those sneaky trips to the bar and nights at Sugar that result in a weekend of pyjamas and DVD box sets trying to recover.

It seemed like the perfect time to get all of my work done and to make those steps towards achieving the grades I have worked all year for. And what is more, I had the support of my parents to keep me focused on the task at hand. Now there was the problem.

All the way through my education my parents have been the disciplinarians who have made me do my work even when I didn’t want to. But now, all of a sudden, since I have moved away, they have become my biggest distraction. I don’t know if it was because they had missed me whilst I was away or that they didn’t understand the work load of a degree because they never did one, but I couldn’t seem to get a full day’s work done without them chatting to me about something completely off topic or arranging all-too-tempting trips out.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy spending time with them, but all those dreams of completing my coursework, reading and revision were swiftly tipped down the drain.

Next Easter I will seriously be considering staying at university, well away from the unexpected distraction of my loving parents. At least at university everyone has work to do or at least understand that you.

This article was published in Pendragon, Summer Term Issue One.