Week in the Life: Linguistics and Psychology

Abigail, studying Linguistics and Psychology, takes us through her Week 5

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Photograph by Joanne Skelton

I’m Abigail, a Cartmel student in my third year studying Linguistics and Psychology. I’m a JCR member so even though I live in town this year I find myself making the trek down to Barker House quite a bit.

Monday, 6 November

The night before, my housemate and I had sat up talking. We covered the usual stuff about how third year is hectic and we should really start being more sensible – getting up and going to bed earlier, etc.

So, in that spirit, I managed to drag myself out of bed at 7.30am, despite the fact that my timetable wouldn’t start until midday. I got to Barker House for 9am and did some reading sat in Cartmel JCR. Then at 12pm I made my way over to the Management School for my Psycholinguistics lecture. We were tackling the great English Past Tense Debate – pretty much the pinnacle of drama in Psycholinguistics.

Tuesday, 7 November

My housemate and I set off at the same time as yesterday although in much less optimistic spirits – it was colder this morning. My Tuesday 10am lectures are always interesting. I’m reluctant to give the module name because it might max out my word count: The Lying Brain: An Examination of Hallucinations & Delusions in Normal, Clinical and Pathological Populations… see what I mean. The lecturer has a tendency to start off by reminding us of all the ways we could fail the module. I quite like that though, it certainly keeps me engaged.

My other modules, my dissertation and my postgraduate research proposals are all focusing on a similar topic: semantics. “Lying Brain” is usually a welcome break. So, today, I wasn’t overly thrilled when the first slide went up and read, “Schizophrenia and Semantic Processing”. I grumbled to myself for about 30 seconds before it won me back and ended up being one of my favourite lectures of the module so far.

Wednesday, 8 November

I ended up spending the whole morning in bed. I’d woken up at my usual 7.30am and been greeted with a splitting headache. I did try working. When I looked at the journal article I was supposed to be reading but couldn’t make my eyes put the letters into focus, I gave it up as a bad job and went back to sleep.

When I finally made it to campus it was for a 4pm guest lecture in the Psychology department after which I had a meeting with my dissertation supervisor. It’d be the first time I’d spoken to him since before summer and I wanted to switch topics. Given that we were half way through term and I wanted to be allowed to run an experiment, I expected to have to do a bit of persuading. Most of today and yesterday I had been mentally rehearsing my spiel about why scrapping everything five weeks in and starting over was a good idea. In the end, I barely had time to finish the sentence “I want to swap” before he said “okay”. So, that was a relief.

I left campus at about 6.30pm and met up with a few friends to go see The Death of Stalin at the Dukes. Not the worst day given how it started.

Thursday, 9 November

Ah, Thursday, the day that everything always seems to fall on. I had an assessed group presentation at 12pm so I got to the library at 10am to meet my group and have a final run through. The topic was a debate on one of the finer points of cognitive grammar theory that had taken all of us quite a while to get our heads around. I don’t think the presentation went disastrously in the end – but I’ll wait for the feedback before claiming it went well.

At 4pm, I went to my shift in the Academic Writing Zone in the Management School. After four weeks of training, this was my first shift doing 45-minute one-on-one sessions with students. I imagine I would have been a bit nervous about it had I not maxed out on stressing about the presentation earlier. As soon as I was finished there, I had to rush back down to Barker House for a JCR meeting. It was mercifully short this week, so I managed to get home by about 8pm.

Friday, 10 November

In first term, last year I had three 9am starts and one 10am. This term, by way of an apology the timetable gods have given me Fridays off. I’d been feeling generally run down most of the week, so I decided to catch a train to spend the weekend back home. I shoved all the unfinished half-annotated article print-outs on my desk into my bag and set off for the train station at about 2.30pm.

When I got there, I was told delays meant I’d be waiting at least 50 minutes. I stood on the platform for about 20 seconds before realising it was windy, rainy, and there was a Costa about 10 ft. to my left. I passed the time doodling designs for my dissertation experiment. In the end, I got back home at 6.15pm. A slightly longer journey than I’d expected since I was only going two stops away from Lancaster.

Saturday, 11 November

I had scotch pancakes and Nutella for breakfast – being home really does have perks. I ate that while I watched the new episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend from the night before.

My job on Cartmel JCR is Magazine Editor and the next issue is due to be sent to print next week. I spent the morning formatting that, which mainly involved me squinting at the screen and trying to make sure everything was aligned. After that I did some more work on the various applications for Masters I’m in the middle of. I found picking out courses was quite exciting at first but at this point they are driving me slightly insane. I hate not knowing where I’ll be next year!

Later on, I managed to take advantage of the fact my mum works in a salon and got her to dye my hair. I made the drastic leap from light-ish brown to darker brown.

Sunday, 12 November

I woke up relatively late, at about 10am. Visiting home for the weekend did the trick because I felt a lot less groggy this morning. I went downstairs and put the Remembrance Sunday service on the TV. At around 1pm, my mum, dad, and sister drove me back up to Lancaster. We went for lunch at The Borough. I love the food there! Then I finally got back to my house. Once I finish typing this up I’ll go through my emails and make next week’s to-do list. The defining feature of third year seems to be that no matter how much work I do, it never feels like I’m done. That, and this term has been passing by so quickly. Hopefully Week 6 will feel a bit more productive and a lot slower!