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Personal view: University is back. How did I ever find time?




I’m a student. That’s me reminding myself as much as you, the reader, as for the past five months I have not been attending any lectures, seminars or classes.

Monday evenings, the traditional home to my one seminar a week, have become my own and classrooms have been replaced with the pub.

A summer without university has still been busy. I’m studying for a masters degree in creative writing and have used the time to read the type of book that’s usually banished during term time: Hello cycling autobiographies, books about politics and diaries of junior doctors. It’s been great and I feel like I have got a lot done.

A large pile of books (18735328)
A large pile of books (18735328)

But have I? My definition of productivity is about to be tested because Mondays are back.

I don’t want to admit that summer is over. Not least while I still have a week of holiday to take and (at the time of writing) we’re yet to have this year’s athletics championship. But the signs of change are beginning to gang up with party conferences and the rugby world cup now under way. Soon we’ll be in that season you don’t like to think about until it can’t be denied. Yes, the one that contains parties, gifts and songs: Business award season.

University coming back is another sign that autumn is approaching, and unfortunately, these days I don’t get a freshers week to ease my way back into it - I’ll have to make do with last week’s night out in Leicester and rail replacement bus ride home.

I’m studying part time, and my module for this term is called ‘patterns of a story’ – which is not so much the examination of cover art the title suggests, but actually an in-depth analysis of how forms have changed over time. And this term’s reading list? Take three steps back and put your hands on your head… Right, ready? Here we go: Madame Bovary, Moll Flanders, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Beloved, Mary Olivier: A Life, Frankenstein and How Novels Work. I’m not sure if that final one would best be read before or after the literary blitz.

“Just read one a week,” the tutor says, “you’ll be fine.”

Would now be a good time to ask if I could have a grace period to finish the non-university book I’m reading before I forget what happens? Our final hand-in is December 12 and I’m not sure, but I somewhat doubt my thoughts on The Tour According to Geraint Thomas will be relevant.

But that’s not to say that ‘further reading’ is not encouraged, the tutor strongly recommends The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, among others.

As I begin my now weekly trip back to Bury St Edmunds from Cambridge I’m wondering how I ever got time for university. But this is what I signed up for. It’s what I enjoy. And on the positive side, term does not finish until we are close to the season that comes after business awards, and I’m not talking about fireworks night or Brexit. Until then, if anyone needs me, look for the guy buried under a pile of books.


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