A new term’s here, and third year has well and truly begun. It’s a total cliche to go on about how fast the last two years have gone, but then there’s a reason for that; they really did fly, even though I wasn’t always having the best time. Quite a lot has changed for my final year: although we’re staying in the same lovely house we lived in last year, we’ve welcomed three new housemates, so it’s been fun getting to know each other and so far we’ve all gelled really well. I’ve also decided to leave my beloved student newspaper after two years of hard work and endless laughter, in order to focus all of my attention on this degree thing I’m meant to be doing, so the structure of my time at university is a little different to what I’m used to.
But I’m really excited for third year. I feel so happy here in York, and my modules this year all look fantastic. I so desperately want to make the most of my final year here, and that starts right now – so here’s how my autumn term is shaping up.
Modules this term
I’ve got two taught modules this term: a period module on Nineteenth Century American Literature, and a special module called Fashion in the Eighteenth Century. Period modules focus on important texts in their historical context, so tend to feature well-known, important works from that particular century or time period; our reading list features some Henry James, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, and we’ve started it all off with Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (if you followed my Instagram stories over the summer you’ll have seen a lot of this one already…). I’m really enjoying this one so far; it’s my first proper introduction to American literature, and my seminars thus far have been fantastic, largely thanks to my talkative and insightful classmates.
Special modules, as they’re termed at York, tend to be focused on more niche topics, texts, writers or time periods. I spotted this one last year and was thrilled wen I found out I’d been accepted onto it for this term. It looks at depictions of fashion throughout the 18th century – ‘fashion’ not only meaning clothes but also makeup, hair and social behaviours – in fiction, poetry and even journalism from the time. In the middle of term we also visit the York Castle Museum where we’ll spend time with a curator and get to handle some of the garments they have in their collection.
But third year also comes with that joyful additional module known as The Dissertation. At York we receive fortnightly lectures to support us in planning and writing this final project, as well as two focused half-hour supervision meetings per term, before we hand in our 8,000 words in May. At this point it’s very research-based, which means it feels like a pretty daunting mountain right now, but so far I’m really enjoying taking my time with reading around my topic and getting my ideas into focus.
Goals this term
My main goal for the entire year is quite simply to enjoy it. Many of my friends are already drowning in applications for life after uni, and although that’s important I don’t want to spend so much time looking ahead that I forget to stop and look around once in a while. I want enjoy York, and I also want to do the very best I can in my degree. This week I left my senior role at the student newspaper around which I’ve structured my life for the last two years, so my goals for this term are focused around using all this extra time well, in order to make the most of uni life while I’m still here.
Stay ahead. My module tutors this term are both brilliant in setting specific work for each class, which means it’s clear what we have to do in advance. It’s great when tutors do this as it makes planning and managing time much easier, so I want to make the most of it and stay ahead of work as much as I can. This will have the added bonus of freeing up time to work on my dissertation reading and planning, which I’m struggling to get into the swing of at the moment.
Be flexible. Originally I had ‘stick to routines’ here as my goal, but that isn’t right at all. G would be the first to tell you just how much I struggle when plans are made or change last minute – it can really throw me, especially if I’m in an anxious mood – so I want to work on being better at being more spontaneous with plans and decisions, as well as fitting in everything I need and want to do.
Make the most of my friends. By which I mean, make the most of having so many friends within a two-mile radius. It’s hard to think that this time next year making plans will have to be done days in advance, and trips to see each other will cost money beyond the Brew and Brownie or Betty’s bill. I’m not entirely sure just how I’ll cope, so I want to make the most of being so close while it lasts!
Have you got goals for this term or semester? Or any tips for getting started with a dissertation? Let’s have a chat – drop a comment below!