Deputy Editor Kat Smith discusses why it is important to take time out to travel during final year

Current Deputy Editor, confused philosophy student and pitta enthusiast
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Images by and Simon Migaj

The words ‘final year’ connote the following: dissertation, exams, stress, existential crises, more dissertation, more stress. I can vouch for the viability of all these elements, which is why taking a break is all the more important.

Alongside the stress of the majority of our degree being assessed in the last year of our course, we are reminded of the impending adulthood around the corner. Daily conversations consist of stress-infused questions: Have you applied to grad jobs? How are you going to fund your masters? How many hours did you spend in the library? You get the gist.

There’s so much pressure put on us, to the point that taking a break for more than 2 days can seem impossible. But I’m a champion for taking some time off – some real time off – where you don’t even think about work for a while. And holidays and trips are the best way to do this. Completely removing yourself from a work environment and the reminders of impending deadlines does wonders for the brain. It’s a chance to refresh, step outside of the easily- overwhelming university bubble, and centre yourself again. It’s an act of self care, albeit an expensive one.

Completely removing yourself from a work environment and the reminders of impending deadlines does wonders for the brain

At Christmas I was lucky enough to visit Amsterdam for 5 days to see a friend on her year abroad, and during Easter I am excited to go to Lisbon for a few days. I know it is a huge privilege to do these, even if they are out of my own money, but if it can simultaneously reset my mind and be an amazing few days, holidays are the perfect medicine to university stress. If money is short, I give myself days off in the town centre where there is plenty to do for free, or take a day-trip elsewhere.

It can seem silly to flee to another country, especially when assignments have heavier weightings than ever, but it’s not always about how much time you spend studying. I could spend 4 hours of ‘studying’ when actually I’m just scrolling on my phone or binge-watching Sex Education, or whatever my latest Netflix obsession is. If I counted up all the hours spent wasted, I might as well have gone on holiday or at least worked to make money to go on holiday.

It also acts as a sort of beacon of light, knowing that I have a few days of fun to break up the deadlines. Now until June, when exams are over, is a long old time. It’s somewhat of a reward system; I know I can go abroad because I have worked hard both in a job and at my degree.

If you are able to afford a mini-break in the tornado that is university, both in terms of time and money, you deserve it.

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