10 things I learnt in the final year of my English degree

  1. Do what you want. In your academic life, in your personal life. Just do things for you, damn it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to change your mind. If you want to switch to a different module, just do it. If you tell everyone you want to do a Master’s and then realise that you can’t hack it a couple of months later, that’s fine. You don’t have to justify your choices to anyone but yourself.
  3. Talk to your tutors. Ask for help. Be honest. Universities as institutions may be terrible at dealing with mental health issues, but individual tutors are usually pretty good eggs.
  4. Do what’s best for you. Getting to the library at 8 o’clock every morning works for some people, but it doesn’t always work for you. Work done from under your duvet with the curtains closed because your brain isn’t being kind to you isn’t worth any less.
  5. It’s not too late to get involved with societies and extracurricular activities. This is the first year that you’ll be actively involved in anything, involved enough to make friends and feel like an integral part of something. It’s the most rewarding thing you’ll do at university, and it’s definitely never too late.
  6. Take breaks. Get out of the university bubble for a bit. Having a morning or an afternoon or a whole day off from working isn’t the end of the world. It will be beneficial to your productivity in the long run.
  7. Download f.lux. Not #spon, just passionate about not damaging my eyes with excessive blue light. And trust me, there’ll be a lot of blue light. Jstor never sleeps. Except when it’s down. And you really need it. But apart from that.
  8. You don’t need a plan. I mean, you will at some point, but wait until your dissertation is submitted and all your books have been returned to the library and you’ve actually slept. I hear that helps.
  9. You can spend a whole year watching films and only reading books from the twentieth and the twentieth-first centuries. This is still a valid intellectual pursuit.
  10. You still won’t understand Derrida. Or most critical theory, for that matter. It’s chill.

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