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Some days, postgraduate life seems very different from undergrad. Gone are the carefree days where it was fine – even expected – to spend all day in bed, your entire loan in one week, and all your free time napping.  It cannot be emphasised enough that studying a postgraduate course is a hugely rewarding and enjoyable experience, but if you go into postgraduate study thinking it’ll just be an extension of undergrad you’re in for a surprise.

Of course I can only speak from my own personal experience, but here are some of the differences I’ve discovered:

  • Marathon Jeremy Kyle sessions have turned into late night discussions and intellectual debates
  • 3 am pizza has become five a day and sensible bedtimes
  • Last minute, all-night library sessions seem to have been replaced by carefully timetabled study periods between food shopping and visiting home
  • Running out of the lecture as soon as it finishes is now hanging around to have a chat with the lecturer about areas you didn’t understand
  • The student loan that reliably rolled into my bank account once a term has turned into a fond and distant memory.

UG-tro-PGIn terms of work load I have always felt that you get out what you put into a university education. Your work load can be as light as you can get away with or as heavy as you can manage. Of course a Master’s level essay will be expected to be of a higher academic standard and your study has to be even more self-driven. Deciding to carry on with education is something you have to be passionate about and I feel more than ever that I’m working hard for my own benefit, and wanting to push myself even more than at undergrad.

Also, being that little bit older, I have become more aware of my lifestyle choices. As a student it’s not always easy to be healthy. Late nights, unstructured days and lots of socialising are not exactly conducive to good eating and sleeping habits, but as a Master’s student I tend to try and take more care of myself. I’m aware now of the importance of keeping energised and alert in order to make the most of my study time and function effectively. Furthermore, for many postgraduate students, the work life balance has to be considered. Master’s students may have commitments that a lot of undergraduates do not. Many postgraduates have children, partners or part-time work, this means that we may have to work more efficiently, set and utilise our study time and make sure we have all bases covered.

Maybe I’m a little more serious and a little more studious, but I’ve found the important things remain the same. Building relationships and friendships with colleagues and housemates remains the core of my university life. The fact the course is only one year acts as motivation to study hard and get the most out of the course, and the wider range of nationalities and ages of students makes for an interesting and diverse social group. Of course, postgraduate study is a step up rather than an extension of undergrad, but I’ve found it to be both a challenging and thoroughly enjoyable experience.

By Olivia Beazley

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