Surviving the Summer: PG Edition

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While the undergraduates are busy revising for exams, post-graduates are either working on their dissertations or continuing their extensive research and lab work for their theses. At some point, the rowdy extravs will begin as exams finish, and campus will be flooded with a lot of craziness and a lot of noise. We’ll also get to experience the annual Beer and Cider Festival on the 16th-19th June, with people from outside the university flocking to campus to taste some of the best ales and ciders around while they listen to musical acts every evening. But what happens once the undergrads say their goodbyes and head home for the summer, Central closes for refurb, and the shops in the square go to shorter hours? How do you cope as a post-graduate on campus for the entire summer?

For some, the quiet of campus over the summer can be nice for productivity. With little to distract me during my Masters’ summer, I would opt not to set an alarm but wake up when the sun shined through my window and worked until I was tired in the evening. This was, of course, interspersed with Netflix binges, but my summer mainly constituted working and trying to get off campus as much as possible, to see Europe before I had to trek back to the US, where flights to many of the places I wanted to visit would have been astronomical.

Those quiet summer days would sometimes drive me insane, and for some of you, you might find that you just don’t work as well when the campus seems totally ‘dead’. You need to find ways to keep yourself occupied. First and foremost, speak with your supervisor before they go on vacation for the summer hols and see how often they intend to meet with you. Most supervisors will only see their students once a month, but when I was in my Masters programme, I was able to split my sessions in half and have twice as many of them. If you’re the sort of person who needs to meet more frequently in order to stay on task, approach your supervisor and see if shorter but more frequent meetings would work for them. You might be surprised at their flexibility (especially for Masters students)!

The most important thing to remember when trying to survive the summer as a post-grad is that it is imperative that you get out of your room as often as you can. This can be in the form of a short walk around southwest campus every afternoon or evening, a jaunt to the Lake District for lunch (for only £15, you can get a return on the 555 bus from Lancaster bus station to Windermere, with a free boat cruise), or even a weekend away somewhere in the UK or Europe! Take advantage of the fact that it’s summer, and if you see that the weather is going to be awful one week, take a break and go somewhere sunny.

Make sure you eat regular meals; if you’re trying to write a dissertation or thesis on an empty stomach, your writing isn’t going to be as coherent because it’ll be harder for your brain to process information. Try adding a multi-vitamin to a breakfast routine to give yourself an extra boost of Vitamin D (we all need more of it!) and B-12 for energy!Please try to place this above the PG Edition of the same in print! I’d love to keep these together on one page 🙂

Above all, make plans to see friends. Being social, even once a week, can improve mental health and make you feel a heck of a lot better overall. While you may regret the fact that you have to work over the summer break, in the end, you’ll be producing work that you can be proud of! Find what works for you and keep moving forward.