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.
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.
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!