The Students@LSE Blog holds a special place in my heart because I went through all the articles on here during those nervous nights before I moved to London to pursue my MSc. I took most of the advice here so seriously. I came across this article on the blog ‘Reading Week: Exactly What Is Needed for The Road Ahead’ and Eric’s line ‘Before the start of reading week, practically all my professors remarked: Enjoy your reading week!’ really stuck with me. 

Remembering all my friends posting their travel stories on Instagram throughout their master’s, I convinced myself that I was here to learn as well as travel and was enthusiastically looking forward to November’s Reading Week as a break. So when I realised that fortunately my undergraduate graduation ceremony and Diwali (the biggest festival in my family) were coinciding with the Reading Week, I happily booked a week-long trip back to India, planning to return only 3 days before classes resumed. 

Diwali

This was, of course, such a happy time for me. I was home after being away for a month (a big deal for me living away from home for the first time), I was graduating so having a merry time with my friends, and it was Diwali, literally the happiest time in India – a time to eat, dance and celebrate with family. Master’s study seemed relaxed enough, so life seemed onto good days. 

To be frank, I wasn’t oblivious of the work I had. I was carrying my readings and essay drafts with me on the trip. I was just overestimating the amount of work I’d be able to pull off while I travelled and caught up with my sleep. 

Convocation

After a gala time, I headed back to London, unpacked, recuperated from the jet lag and travel and voila – I was in the weekend right before classes resumed, none the wiser, with most of my readings still untouched. Still content with my decision, thinking I didn’t need to perhaps read through all the weeks of readings. It took me a bad formative essay review to realise I was headed downhill. 

I was getting quite good at falsely consoling myself I think, because I took the bad review decently. I was gutted of course since I was not used to receiving bad reviews, but since I realised I hadn’t worked on it at all since I was travelling, I took it in spirit. The true realisations came when I had to submit my summative essay and I felt like I was at ground zero because I had no direction about what I was writing about, and I needed to do all the readings that I had skipped, which become an arduous task because of course, I needed to dissect them, rather than just going through the summary points I could have made from it during reading week. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am still travelling. I travelled a lot throughout the semester as well. But what I realised is that I need to prioritise my work, not my travel. I now book tickets the night before I leave when I am sure I don’t have work the next day, rather than running after cheap deals which require me to book weeks in advance without a clue of what my work requirements would be then. I do short day trips or weekend trips where I don’t need to plan, pack, unpack or recuperate. I travel when I am confident I can manage my work, rather than aspiring to become a superwoman who reads and writes while she’s travelling across country borders.

And that’s the advice I’d like to leave you with – use your reading week to read! 

Aarushi Jain

AJ

An MSc. in City Design and Social Science student. Follow me for updates on London, travelling in the UK, and student life at LSE.