BBQ or books?

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Ten weeks of summer have quickly disappeared; you haven’t lifted a book, opened a file or even thought about restocking your pen supplies. For how many students at Lancaster will this scenario be a reality?

In the days of high school where lying in bed until noon was an absolute priority, this would be the situation for all but the most keen of pupils. As undergraduates however, gone are the summers where you could sleep past mid-day, wake up casually to bacon butties from your Gran and then lounge about all afternoon watching rubbish telly without so much of an eye roll. Now we seem to be expected to use summer holidays once spent notching up our water fight victories to earn as much money as possible, put it to use wisely by buying all the books on our reading list and still somehow find time for an inconveniently unpaid work placement.

Summer is most certainly a procrastinator’s dream. Therefore, when torn between the decisions to start working on the first chapter of a dissertation or trying out your barbeque for the first time, the answer is almost always going to be to swerve the books. But for how long can you put off the workload and the growing reading lists before you start feeling guilty about a lack of preparation for the year ahead and your future as a graduate?

Some students squeeze every last hour out of their free time; whether hitting the books, volunteering or earning those much needed pennies, summer can be a vital time to shape your student credentials as well as enjoying the limitless opportunities a deadline-free few months can bring. From travelling the world to photocopying that thousandth report in a windowless office, the summer break has the potential to turn us from pen pushers in lectures to individuals ready and waiting for the wider world.

With that in mind,three months without academic expectations can at times seem put to waste when you find yourself hibernating in your pyjamas for a third date of the week with Jeremy Kyle. As students facing the pressures of term-time, the realities of a joyless job market and lots of lovely loan repayments, should we be hitting fever pitch over summer to prepare for the future or should we be using these final few weeks to relax before the dramas of deadlines kick in?

As a third year with a full-time summer job, a severe addiction to baking and the mother of all essays to start writing, sadly the time has come to stop, prioritise and throw my recipe book away. As tempting as it is to trade paper cuts for an apple pie making session, getting prepared for first term in these next few weeks can be the ideal opportunity to get on the way to organised for the year ahead, helping you relax into the thought of a structured routine with highlighters and filing systems rather than lazy Tuesdays where my biggest achievement is my Victoria sponge.

With five weeks left of freedom there’s plenty of time left to start ticking off, or even to start to write your to-do lists. Yes, everyone’s list will be different, every student will see five weeks with no stress and no seminars as the ideal opportunity to check very different boxes. But whether tackling that pile of new books, collecting up the cash for Freshers’ Week or letting your fancy dress ideas for the new term be the most stressful thing you consider, try to make your last month memorable. Get your CV sparkling, botch up a barbeque, but most of all make the most of it; you’ll be back fighting with footnotes and flatmates before you know it.

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