The LION Series 6: Getting the Most Out of Your Time throughout the Academic Year

by Sarah Mir

This post is part of The LION Series from the Freshers’ Magazine Takeover. Each post this week features a snippet from an article in The LION Magazine 2020/21 Issue 1. 

The LION magazine is written by third-year King’s students, all of whom have recently completed their BA English degrees.

The magazine helps first-year students in the English Department transition into university life.

This article is by Sarah, a 21-year-old English BA graduate from King’s College London who has an avid interest in writing/editorial work.

Both a woe and a pro of the English Literature course: you will have clusters of summative work due all at once at the end of the semester (unfortunately usually the same day!), and long periods of time where keeping up with the weekly readings – albeit challenging in itself – will be your sole focus. This structuring of the course creates room in which you can fill your time proactively, all contributing towards your growth as a young adult.

Across the three-year degree span, I ensured to delve into the following three things to aid my productivity and enable me to experience things beyond the remit of my studies during the academic year:

Look for a part-time job

September 2017 marked my entry into university life. Grabbing change by the horns, I decided to simultaneously thrust myself into part-time work. Working as a senior English Literature tutor of 6-16-year-olds on a bi-weekly basis became my new norm for two and a half years. Not only did this allow me to earn a decent monthly wage, it also allowed for my identity to develop beyond university: it granted me the chance to meet a wide variety of people (although the English student body is multicultural, it is still heavily white dominated), develop strong interpersonal communication skills, and work well in a team. All of these skills enabled the flourishing of my confidence, and a chance for both economic and social independence.

Due to the current COVID-19 climate, looking for remote work may be the way forward, as well as potentially waiting it out until the situation betters. You will also likely have the later years of your degree, in which hopefully normality has returned, to fulfil this desire! Whilst saying this, it is important to note that finding a university/work balance is imperative – do not bite off more than you can chew!

King’s Student Services advice on work / study balance

King’s Student Services advice on managing your money

Participate in departmental projects

If you are wary of committing to a part-time job just yet, or work is scarce due to the unprecedented nature of our time, a great way to test the waters would be to participate in departmental projects. You will receive many emails from the English Department asking for participation or volunteers for student involvement in a wide variety of opportunities, many of which could be of interest to you. It is also a great way to get to know people on the course better – a gateway to making friends. If you are an aspiring poet/poetry lover, there are regular poetry competitions running catering especially to you. Nura Haji, fellow third-year English Literature student, speaks of her experience in getting involved early on in first year:

“There was a ‘Crossing Borders’ poetry competition that took place in the evening of a snowy day. I was about to not turn up (snow, nerves and all), but I pushed myself to get involved. I even came second place! Get involved; as daunting as department events can be, especially going alone, and reading a personal piece of work aloud to a hall filled with unknown faces, it’s a light way to take the ease of current studies away and tap into your creative faculties. Ever since then, I’ve continued with my poetry passion by attending poetry readings alone, remaining consistent with my own poetry and of course, selecting some of the fantastic poetry modules we have here at Kings in my second and final years”. 

Delving into any of these things will allow you to exist outside of the realm of university life and studying, which can be difficult and lonely at times. Having a focus, and engaging yourself in projects you are both interested in and passionate about will grant you the opportunity to fill your time productively and in ways that will enable you to grow as a young adult beginning to navigate yourself in the real world.

Blog posts on King’s English represent the views of the individual authors and neither those of the English Department, the LION Magazine and its editor, nor of King’s College London.

Image Credit: Geoff Ruddock
Copyright: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

You may also like to read other articles from the LION series: