It’s a slightly strange experience coming back after the Christmas holidays to a packed library- even more so when I don’t have any exams! Having said that, I still do have several coursework deadlines due in a couple of weeks, so I still need to use the library just as much. But I’m sure it’s a different experience as a postgrad – I recently worked out that this will be my first year with no exams since I took my GCSEs (I’m not sure if that’s definitely a good thing though, as personally I quite enjoyed revision, as it’s only stressful over a short period of time, rather than the longer process of coursework or a dissertation). However, I’ve found that Western Bank seems to have a fair few free places, and as long as you get in early enough, you’d be fine with getting a seat in the IC.
But if there is any advice I can give to the undergrads at this point, it’s that it’s really important not to get too overworked, and most of all not to panic. From my own experiences, I learnt that keeping relaxed meant I retained more information than if I tried to cram everything in last-minute. And taking breaks from work, that’s also very useful- I found that if I just kept working solidly, I’d lose concentration after a short while, but taking just a short break, even for a quick cup of tea, kept me calm and stopped me worrying so much! Finally, above all it’s vital not to be worried about the exam itself. After all, an exam is not meant to intimidate you, but just to give you a chance to show off how much you know about that topic…
As for life as a postgrad in this season, studying requires a little more organisation than before Christmas. I may not have lectures or seminars for the next few weeks while exams are going on, but with that comes the temptation for having a bit of a lie-in, all the while ignoring the looming deadlines which count towards my final grade. So I make sure I keep disciplined in sticking to my timetable, and concentrate on what I need to achieve for the day. Yes, it’s true that things are busier in the library at the moment, but I can certainly understand what it’s like for undergrads at exam times, so for me it’s a question of working consistently and making sure I stick to those deadlines!
Overall, I’m currently finding life and work at Sheffield at the start of 2016 different to how it was a couple of months ago – the atmosphere in the libraries is generally more intense, and you seem to see more students with their flashcards and colourful revision sheets. But that’s not to say it’s all bad news. It’s still great to head to the Student’s Union to grab a nice spot of lunch and take a break, and with it getting slightly lighter each day, the positive thing is that once exams are over, we can look forward to the warmer days of Spring!