The first term at LSE has been intense in lots of different ways. I’ve been “part-time” and so I’ve had half the workload of full-time students, but I feel quite exhausted. I don’t know how the full-timers have done it, to be honest – some have had five courses on the go at the same time. I don’t think I would have coped had I tried to do the master’s in one year.
It’s been intense in terms of the pace of the work – there is a lot of content to cover, a lot of concepts to grasp, each and every week, and naturally a lot of reading, but also a lot of thinking to do. And then the following week involves another key area of enquiry or technique, each with its own history, thinkers, debates and so on to engage with. And then another week, and so on. This fast pace is definitely stimulating and you can’t help but learn a lot.
And it’s also been intense handling and juggling the other parts of my life, most of which haven’t stopped, and which I’ve therefore had to find a way to mix with studies. It’s been stressful, too, and I have “coped” by procrastinating. Good thing I realised this, however, because I’ve been able to chill out a bit more about all the things I’m not doing as the term has ended.
On the whole, it has been enjoyable. I’m not sure I feel entirely like a student, however, as I feel more like someone who has a busy job and life who is also doing a course in social policy research. That said, I’ve been lucky to be able to spend more time on campus and with fellow students than I thought I would have, and have definitely experienced something of the “studenty” life.
I would say that one of the best things about LSE itself is that it is a relatively small campus, and it’s fairly easy to just bump into people you know, and to have interesting and engaging conversation just in passing. The downside, in my view, is that space is a problem. I’m used to empty libraries and quiet corridors – I’m going to have to get used to wandering around looking for a place to sit. That said, there are plenty of places around Holborn and a little beyond that are perfect for quieter study. Senate House Library, whilst a bit old and dusty, is a good choice (although their social policy collection is quite dire).
I like the “office hour” system, where you can just book a slot with an academic, and generally it works well. If you need to see them outside of the hour allocated I think it’s ok to arrange that – I haven’t encountered any problems. However, sometimes slots get booked up quick, and this means you might have to wait a week or two before you can have a chat with an academic. If you’re used to just popping by the professor’s office when you have a “quick question”, you might be disappointed. You can always email it though.
I’m glad the break has arrived, like many I guess. I’ll be trying to catch up on some of the reading I feel I would need to complete, but I’m not going to stress about it! Not at all!
This is a pretty simple round up of some of my impressions from this term. Plenty more could be said though – if you want to know about something else, ask a question or comment below and I’ll see if I can answer it.