Hey! I’m a first year History undergrad, and this is what an average day looks like for me.
Like many students, I have to force myself to get out of bed in the morning to get ready for the day… After breakfast, I usually try to finish up some reading before I walk to university. There is always something more you have to read as a history student. I’m currently trying to do more reading outside of the reading lists that professors provide.
Lectures and seminars
Most days I have a couple lectures or a seminar. Lectures tend to be just under an hour long, and seminars are 1-2 hours. Seminars are the most useful, and interesting, part of the course (for me at least!): we get to discuss our ideas about key readings and the seminar leader adds input and challenges you. All of this makes my essays much more diverse and is helpful in leading me down different paths than I would have gone if I had just read the texts.
It is recommended that you do around 5 hours of reading a day, but obviously it is very difficult to get used to this type of self-motivated work if you have just come out of school. I struggle to balance my studying currently, and some days I have to cram read and other days I procrastinate and do no work – this is fairly normal for a first year student but is something that I need to work on. Independent work and time management is one of the key skills that you can get out of a history degree and is something that is getting easier over time.
Lots of places to study
I like to work in the library, but it is quite busy most of the time and so a good alternative is the study areas in the Spring Lane Building. The atmosphere is always quite relaxed in there and it is the building I have most of my lectures and seminars, so it is quite convenient. All the study areas on campus have comfortable seating – which is heavenly when I spend hours there!
Evenings: language module and socialising
After studying I walk home and make some dinner. I have a bit of downtime for myself before the evening progresses. There is always something to do in the evenings and it’s a struggle to make sure I go bed early enough to actually sleep enough! I take a module in German through the Languages for All scheme (as a history student I can do take the classes for free by replacing another module), so once a week I have a 2-hour evening class. These classes are very hard but are so rewarding in learning more of the language, especially as the focus is on spoken German so it is actually useful for visiting Germany.
Many nights I go to one of the many student bars with a few friends, and if we have no early starts the next day it can end up with a night out in York, but these are less frequent after term one in first year. If I don’t feel like drinking, then there is always something going on in college or I tend to go on a little walk to the woods near my college (Halifax) – which is really refreshing during stressful weeks of deadlines!
Every day is different
Being a history student means that I can decide when is best to study and when to have fun. It is nice as well that many books and articles are available online so I can study wherever I like. Doing history means every day is different and that is one of the best things about it.