Yes, postgrads can and do have social lives. They may not involve quite as many ‘quad vods’ and foam parties as your undergrad degree, but by the time you are considering becoming (or have already become) a seasoned academic those things can seem kind of yucky anyway.
I initially found postgrad life very isolated, compared to what I’d experienced in my first degree at the same university. But being alone isn’t good for anyone, and you should absolutely be allowing yourself to take days off, hang out with your friends, make new friends, and generally let your hair down every once in a while.
So I want to throw some pearls of wisdom out there to tell you what I wish I’d known about how to get involved earlier on in the kinds of activities and outings that make your postgrad life a whole lot more fun.
Subject-Related Discussion Groups
Stay with me here. I know you’re thinking the very last thing you want to sign up to is a group dedicated to discussing the subject you already spend every day wallowing in. But chatting about an interesting piece of literature, a film, a new scientific discovery – whatever it may be – can give you a fresh (and even inspiring) perspective on your postgraduate subject. This has the added bonus of being sociable AND productive – the informal way such groups are usually run mean you can learn without it feeling like hard work.
Look out for reading groups, work-in-progress meetings (a chance to present your fledging paper/thesis idea/revolutionary theory to a group of less intimidating people than your tutors) and group study sessions for starters, and if you can’t find what you want…start your own!
Days Away from Uni
Whether your campus is slap bang in the middle of a lively city, or on the edge of a beautiful national park, it shouldn’t be hard to find an attraction you want to visit or a place you’d like to explore – this is the perfect excuse to plan a day out in advance, get some friends together (especially the ones with cars) and take a break from your familiar, perhaps worn-out surroundings.
Alternatively, if you can’t get enough of feeling productive even on your days off, why not talk to your course coordinator to see if your university arranges any trips.
Conferences are also an important part of postgrad life, and even if you just go to listen you’re sure to learn a lot and maybe get the opportunity to network with other students or professors.
Because the numbers of postgraduate students are much smaller at most universities, your union or university is quite likely to run a Postgraduate Society that welcomes members from any discipline – a great way to meet people not studying the same course as you, which can otherwise be tricky.
They might organise trips to the theatre, cinema, bowling, pub quizzes and more – again if you can’t find the thing that tickles your fancy, suggest it and make it happen! Often trips like this will be subsidised, or maybe they’re run in partnership with other societies, so your wallet won’t complain too much afterwards either.
Casual Hanging Out
Really strapped for cash? Why not do something fun and sociable from the comfort* of your very own home (*this does rely on you not living in freezing cold student digs…though onesies are a fabulous invention).
A Come Dine With Me style dinner party, your own film or board game evening, a pamper night in, jamming session: you can tailor this to absolutely whatever your hobbies and interests are.
If you live with flatmates it’s a great way to dissolve any washing-up-related tension, and if not (or the washing up has really come between you) ask coursemates round instead. It’s important to reclaim your living space for fun stuff every once in a while so it’s not just a second library where you can’t relax and switch off.
There will be a vast range of union and university societies available to you, and there’s still time to get stuck into an activity, sport or hobby you’ve never tried before.
Obviously you will have to balance your free time carefully, but try the things that pique your interest now because you might find yourself regretting missing out later on.
Taster sessions are often run at the start of term so look out for a programme – there’s no pressure to join if you decide circus skills aren’t for you, but you might also find something that becomes a lifelong passion…you won’t know if you don’t try!
Hopefully there are some enlightening suggestions here to jazz up your social calendar and stop you getting LLS (library loner syndrome), because no one wants that.
Be proactive about finding things that interest you, because they’re not always marketed as widely or as obviously as activities for undergrads. You’re a fresher too, and just because it’s the second time round and you have tons more work it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to have fun!
NEXT STEP: FIND THE RIGHT POSTGRADUATE COURSE FOR YOU
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