One Thing at a Time

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

I've only been a third year student for a week and a half and I already feel completely overwhelmed and drained. The first week back was an intense overload of information and when eleven or so deadlines are thrown at you all at once, the natural reaction is panic. It felt as though everything was just whizzing full speed around my brain and I find the best way to deconstruct everything is to write it all down and deal with one thing at a time. For me, this comes in the form of an academic diary for deadlines and exam dates, a desk pad for daily/weekly University tasks and general reminders and a to-do list for other less important jobs I need to complete. Don't ask me why, but pretty stationery motivates me to get things done and I'm forever nipping into Paperchase buying more, probably unnecessary, supplies to fuel productivity and maintain organisation.

I obviously knew that third year was going to be a lot more difficult than second year, but I don't think I was prepared for exactly what's expected when you enter dissertation territory. Because I study Print Journalism, the dissertation has been reworked into a Multi-Platform Project (MPP) to reflect the industry. We have to hand in a Project Plan, a Research Essay, a Feature and an Online Feature which pretty much equates to the word count of a dissertation so ultimately, it's the same thing but just in a slightly different fashion. Thing is, it isn't just MPP that I have to concentrate on, I also have two exams, three practical hand-ins and two essays to complete while I'm constantly working on my MPP from now until the final hand-in on May 8th. Although it's not completely unmanageable, I've realised that this year is going to require a lot of dedication and commitment.

The thing that terrifies me is that this is it. First year didn't count, second year retakes were possible if I messed up and it was only a 30% contribution towards my degree but third year is everything. No retakes, no second chances - pretty much my whole degree classification depends on the next seven and a half months and that, is what's scary. Only I have the power to control what happens and as the cliche goes, you get out what you put in. If I decide to be lazy and watch Netflix instead of doing research and reading, I'll only have myself to blame. At times I know I'm going to struggle, hit a brick wall and get writers block, but I've just got to attack it with a light at the end of the tunnel attitude. I've picked a topic I'm passionate about and I'm willing to work towards all of my deadlines until I've reached my full potential and I've got my Print Journalism degree.

But it's not only the next seven and a half months which are scary, it's also everything else after that. I've become so accustomed to my home and my life in Nottingham and sometimes I forget that when it's all over, I'll be moving back to my small hometown of Hemel Hempstead, I'll be out of full-time education and in all honesty, I think I'll feel a little bit lost. I've said for a while that I don't want to go straight into the industry because I feel like I want to grow and develop myself as a person. I know that might sound completely ridiculous, but I don't feel as though I'm as wise or as cultured as I could be. And how am I tackling that? Travelling, of course. Me and one of my best friends Abby are embarking upon a three month adventure next September which means getting a stop-gap job next summer to top up our travelling funds. Are we crazy, or!?

Of course we're ridiculously excited because it's going to be the most amazing experience (we let out a little scream when we found out the stopover on the way back from Fiji - our final destination - to London is in LA!) but it's also really frickin scary, too. It's practically going to be two 21-year-olds flying from London to Bangkok to start an adventure and spontaneously (with a little bit of structure thrown in for good measure) travelling around different countries. We're planning on going to Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, ending with a relaxing week in Fiji before we fly back to London mid December ready to spend Christmas with our families. It's a nice little affirmation in the back of my mind which will keep me sane and in high spirits when third year well and truly gets on top of me. So although it's going to be a stressful year, it's also going to be a great one.

And when it all gets a little too much, I've just got to remember, one thing at a time...

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