The disheartening feeling of not understanding my mother tongue has faded! The concentration and patience required to plough through the dense International Relations jargon found in my readings is now at a bearable level. Seemingly foreign words frequented sentences far more in first year’s readings, which must mean they have slowly permeated my vocabulary. This has changed my attitude to reading as I find that I am often more engaged with a text than I was in first year because it is far less of an ordeal.
I am less likely to take books out of the library, despite wishing I could. I now have to commute home on a bike rather than walk the 5 minute stretch to my first year accommodation on campus, and a lighter rucksack is always a nicer rucksack. Having said that, now that my house is a 20 minute cycle ride (and a dauntingly large hill) away, I rarely go home in between lectures and have therefore found myself spending far more time in the library this year. So I actually use printed books from the library slightly more than I did last year, I just don’t regularly take them home.
I tend to do more readings and independent research for my assignments and I am now better acquainted with my library’s facilities, including its search program. I am more confident with knowing what I want from a reading and won’t include one whose relevance is dubious simply because I bothered to read it. I have begun to read the sources cited in the books I have been advised to read as well as using google scholar more.
I am so much more stressed! The relief of leaving home and being suddenly surrounded by hundreds of friends has faded and now the focus seems to be more on getting good grades. The fact that first year’s grade doesn’t count towards my final degree was brilliant because it meant that I could explore writing styles and attitude to work and realise what is expected from me. Reading throughout my modules does now feel like a necessity rather than an option. In seminars we go into such depth that there’s almost no point turning up if you haven’t done the reading. Gone are the days you could turn up having not done the reading and still discuss it by reading the introduction and conclusion while everyone is talking.
I have become an organised person (almost). Pretty much all of my work is on Google Drive so I can access any work on any device and it all gets saved instantly meaning I never lose work. The library laptop loan service has meant that I can have a laptop with me throughout the day and not have to lug it home. Having all my documents to hand has also meant that I re-read work from first year to help me with my current assignments.