“I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams” goes the song. Christmas has always been one of the most important dates of the year for me but this time I could not be home, and this was not a very easy decision. Many factors contributed to it: money, the fact that I might stay here for only one year, and the deadline for my Michaelmas summative essays, which was January 8th. Not only did I not go back to the Brazilian summer, but I was in London to study. Staying faithful to my essay writing best practices: in this post, I will describe what I felt when staying behind in LSE over the winter. I argue that it started off a little bit odd, but things ended up ok.

Monday, December 11th: The first official business day of winter break

Truth be told, when I got to LSE for my first full day of essay writing I was quite disappointed. The place was completely empty, it was super cold (which evidently is LSE’s fault because they clearly control the weather), the coffee place I like the most (Plaza) was closed. Most people went home, so the school was deserted of current students – they were replaced by alumni who were on campus for their graduation and walked around wearing graduation gowns. The Student Union disappeared, my department sent us off to write essays and everyone vanished. I joined over ten societies in the beginning of the term and all of them went on holidays too. What I enjoy the most about LSE is its life, the events, the fact that there is always something happening. On December 11th, the little life left on campus was in the library and I felt alone.

An educated guess would say that on average I receive around 10 LSE emails every day. Between LSE Life, careers, newsletters, societies or people selling revision notes (?) my inbox is always full. During the winter break, I don’t think that I received more than five emails.

At Rosebery Hall, the undergraduates were replaced with scarce hostel guests and many of my friends went away too. Also, the daily dinner we are offered during term time turned into breakfast for the holidays.

Little by little, I found out a few things that, like me, were not going home for Christmas and started to feel better. The Library was working on full power, LSE Careers, the Student Union coffee shop – and this last one was great because on term time I never get there early enough to get a Margherita pizza before it runs out. The most important thing though was LSE Life.

I am a big fan of LSE Life, they have been quite amazing since I got here. I go to their workshops and sessions and they have been helping me revisit the way I think academically. I don’t know if it will work out in the end, but I think that I am a better student because they are around. So on December 11th, I went to talk to them.

9000 words, three essays, less than three weeks, can you help me organize my time?

We created a schedule of how many words I had to write each day and what I had to do to get this out of my way. We also included a one-week break between Christmas and New Year. With the schedule on my wall, I set myself to work, going back to talk to them whenever I hit a landmark; sharing the lonely joys and hardships of writing essays, I was called up on how long my sentences are and how my referencing was lacking.

A typical day for me, during the break

  • Wake up at eight or nine and go down for breakfast
  • Have a two-hour long breakfast, while spending time talking about everything and nothing with new or old friends and having several cups of latte – Long, Rosebery style brunches every day
  • Sit down in my favourite spot at the Fourth Floor Postgraduate Study Room and work all the way until 2PM – funny thing is that I was surrounded by other people who also tend to sit every day in the same place, so we got to know each other through the silent concentrated stares, even though we never spoke
  • Have lunch and more coffee
  • Study until 5PM and go home to study some more until 8:30PM for dinner or catch an early dinner with friends – maybe some pizza?
  • Netflix / more study time – there was one day that I actually almost set Rosebery on fire in this part of the day, but that’s a story for another post

All in all, I felt sad not to go back home for Christmas, but I also felt quite happy to not break the flow of my LSE activities, I stayed here and got stuck into work which was great.

I managed to check out many of the Christmas Markets in town, my favourite one being Clapham Common’s Winterville.

For my semi-true one week break, I took the bus to Scotland for their Hogmanay celebration, which was incredible and very magical.

The feeling of being let down remained there for a little bit. I just wasn’t expecting this whole “LSE will be closed” thing to be so severe. Although to be fair it was the whole context that made me feel sad, not LSE alone. Once I started to pay attention to these little things that were still here, it all got better.  In the end, my 2017 was dedicated to being in London and I was happy to spend my break living up to that and working on things that I am quite passionate about. I hope to be home for Christmas in 2018.

The break started with a snow day. Only the second time in my life that I saw snow and it was one of my favourite days in London so far.

On our little get together with some of my Data & Society friends, I brought a bit of my Christmas back home and made my traditional gingerbread biscuits.

Instead of going to LSE every single day, sometimes I explored other libraries that are part of the University of London, such as Senate House Library.

Christmas in London = Christmas markets

A magical new year with the torchlight procession in Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. Here’s to a 2018 full of change and discoveries.