After assignments and exams: What does summer look like for a PGT student?

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A post-graduate taught student has a very different summer compared to the average uni student – we still have so much to do! Here’s how I’ve been managing my time (and motivation!) after assignments and exams, including starting my dissertation, job searching, and trying to make the most of the time I have left in Manchester – even if the situation is far from what I had expected…

After about two months of working on assignments and my take home exam in an isolation-like environment during lockdown, I felt I deserved a break made up of days off and days out. I made time to catch up with my friends via Zoom, as well as with my favourite series on Netflix. I started taking more walks whenever the weather was nice, since I quickly learned that sun in Manchester during summer is the exception as oppose to the rule. As social distancing measures have started to relax, I have also met up with friends more often for walks, picnics, and small get-togethers. I now try and take more pictures of whatever I do that falls out of my routine, however simple it is. Given the current situation I have come to appreciate moments a lot more, especially since they will become an important part of my UoM memories. As hard as it is for someone that is as stressed as me to relax, I made an effort to take it easy after the intense assignment period. 

Nonetheless, there wasn’t a whole lot of time for me to spare. I needed to start working quickly on my PGT dissertation as deadlines crept up on me, especially the limited time I had to send drafts to my supervisor. Starting the process was especially hard, since I felt I had not fully recovered from the assignment and exam workload. It took me some time to realize I needed to research a lot, skim read many texts and be patient, especially to achieve more clarity on what I would specifically be working on for the next few months. First, I needed to decide on a topic. This took me a lot more time than I had imagined and after almost two weeks of reading, I started to stress. Fortunately, I wrote to my supervisor with an update of my progress, ideas and worries, and his answer made me feel I was on the right track, but still had a long way to go. 

During the following weeks I broke down the work I had into digestible tasks. Even though I knew I had to be realistic with my day-to-day dissertation schedule and I couldn’t approach it like a regular job from 9am to 5pm, I soon realized even thinking about dedicating a full 5 hours a day was far from ambitious, and I needed to pace myself. I often found myself aiming to finish task “X” and promising myself not to take a break until I had completed it. However, most of the time task “X” took me a lot longer than I had expected. The result: mental fatigue. The “Flora” app has helped me correct this exhausting behaviour. It makes you establish 25-minute-long (or however long you wish) work sessions, followed by short breaks. This helps me keep track of my effective working hours, encourages me to work efficiently during the 25-minute countdown, makes me take more breaks, and gives me more time to reboot my concentration and motivation. 

Now that I have been able to make some decent progress on my dissertation and the end of my supervisory period is almost over, I’ve been thinking a lot about my life post-dissertation and post-graduation. I need to start by correcting my CV, according to the suggestions made by the Careers Service when I e-mailed them my latest version a few months ago. After making these adjustments, I’ll ask them for further support before submitting my applications. Given the complicated economic situation worldwide, I’ll be job hunting in the UK and Europe, as well as back home in Peru. I’ll also be applying to part-time posts, to guarantee a source of income until I find something more permanent.

As for the rest of my summer plans, these will still be limited by Covid-19 precaution measures but will vary between exercising, attempting new summer recipes, signing up to an online course (perhaps coding?), practicing Italian with Duolingo, and taking day or short weekend trips in the UK. I really want to make the most of the time I have left in Manchester. Hopefully I will be able to do so.

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