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For most final year students, the dreaded dissertation hand-in date is looming, hanging over our heads like the proverbial black cloud. It can be hard to think about anything other than sitting in your room, or in the library, making like a certain William McKenzie and dosing up on energy drinks and pro-plus and praying that something, anything, will make sense: ‘Is it even a word? It doesn’t look right!’ But, whilst becoming a hermit until May might seem like the only possible option for ever getting this thing finished, it may actually be helpful to step away from your desk; get creative, and find inspiration elsewhere.
An interesting alternative to studying in the library or the learning zone can be to find somewhere off campus to study. Some people may find places such as the museum or the Storey Gallery in town to be relaxing areas in which to study, or even taking your laptop or some books outdoors on some of the rare sunny days that we may see in the coming months (preferably, don’t choose to do this on an overly windy day, the library don’t accept this as an excuse for missing/weather-beaten books – trust me.). If you are lucky enough to have a reading or independent study week, take advantage of the time that is freed up by having no seminars or lectures and wander into town, or even to nearby Galgate, and find yourself a personal area of inspiration. As useful as the library and learning zone can be, there is no denying that these can be overwhelmingly crowded, especially during the coming terms when deadlines for all subjects are fast approaching. As well as giving you a chance to escape the campus bubble, you may be surprised at the inspiration that can be gained simply by changing your surroundings and working in a creative, characterful environment.
While your final year work is undeniably important, it is also essential that you remember to take a break! Not only do you deserve it, but having a day off from all the hard work will actually do you a lot of good – don’t feel guilty about giving yourself some time off, it will help you to relax and approach your work with a clear head rather than a mind swarming with panic and page numbers. Do something that you find helps you to de-stress, be it an afternoon’s shopping, a couple of hours at the gym, going out for dinner, anything that will get you out of your rut and, hopefully, out of the house for some much-needed fresh air.
Wherever and whenever you decide to get on with your dissertation, remember to try and balance the workload with enjoying your final few months at Lancaster, there aren’t many left after all! So, on that note, before I resume my evening with Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens, I wish you (and myself) good luck – we’re going to need it!