Ah, the strange life of a postgraduate scholar; half-way between a professional and an amateur, where we are still learning only now more on our terms. Returning to university life to complete my Master’s has been a strange one. Jonny (who is currently a mature B(Ed) student) and I are back house sharing with a bunch of friends, spending long stretches of time in the library and are looking ahead 10 month’s time when we have to start applying for jobs. Knowing this coming year will fly by, I have to anticipate how fluidly – how seamlessly – my MA will transition into my full-time working life.
So, to mark the time of year where many students (old and new) pack up for university, I thought I’d share my current wishlist of items that will happily see my through the winter – and hopefully out the other side again!
I don’t know about you but I get C O L D in the winter (like, stupidly cold). A hot beverage can go a long way in the darker, colder months (especially when getting up early for work/class can seem like getting up in the middle of the night!) and this item can perfectly transition to fit in with your working life post-graduation. Having enough time in the morning to not just make but also drink your coffee/tea/alternative is a common theme amongst people trying to make it in the modern world these days, from commuters on the train to mature/grad students trying to juggle jobs, families or house responsibilities all whilst leaving the house on time. Having one of these travel mugs handy can be an absolute lifesaver if you need a bit of perking up before you can start doing any serious thinking and this playful one from John Lewis (£16) is perfect. It’s sadly out of stock online at the moment, but fingers crossed it’ll be in a store near you!
I cannot survive without a planner. Sure, I have the amazing organisational calendar app Sunrise on my phone but, for me, nothing gets me feeling organised like good old fashioned pen and paper. I thrive on daily to-do lists and seeing my week all laid out for me so I can be sure to never miss a thing. For this reason, I heartily recommend a Filofax (and I especially love this forest green one for winter! £65)*. Being a grad student means you can be lucky enough to go on some excursions and have a lot of meetings or events that may not already be pre-timetabled in for you. Also, if you are working to fund your studies, it can be really useful to make sure you know exactly when you’re working and what hours you can realistically put in for studying. Planners are also helpful for deadlines, syncing up which university “week” you’re in (always very confusing!) and writing down useful information to come back to at a later date.
*There are other planners very similar to a Filofax in a lot of good stationers at the moment, so you don’t have to go brand-name if you don’t want to – but the quality and diversity of choice you get with the Filos is second to none.
Organisation requires perfect timing, and a watch can become your new partner in crime. I’m currently drooling over this stunning Anthropologie watch (£80) in all my favourite autumn colours to help me stay on time this year, but even the most basic time-telling device can do the job when you’re in a pinch (or trying to stick to a more modest budget – and I’ve got to tell you, I very much doubt this watch will ever leave my wish list, don’t think I can justify it!). Depending on the situation/department/people you encounter or work with, checking your phone during a meeting may not be an option, so it’s always good to be able to discreetly (and stylishly hehe) check the time if you need to.
4. Chunky Scarf
I tend to do a lot of walking as a student, either around campus, to and from class or to the shops at the end of my street. Living so close to the university is amazingly convenient but, as the winter months will be drawing near, I know the daily walk in will be getting colder and colder. That’s where this chunky blanket scarf (£25) will come in very handy. As a graduate student (who still looks only old enough to be an undergrad…), I’ve now far surpassed my hoodie days and it’s now time to attempt to team practicality, professionalism and a teeny bit of style when it comes to my wardrobe (which can be hard when you’re not the most fashionable of people). Scarves can enhance any outfit and I wear them in the spring/early autumn if there’s a bit of a chill in the air for extra cosiness but you just can’t beat a winter coat/scarf/hat combo for when that wind really hits from the Plymouth Sound.
5. Lap Tray
With a trip to Ikea imminent (yippie!), this colourful lap tray (£9) is at the top of my shopping list. When living in a student house, it’s likely that your bedroom becomes the place you spend most of your time. Communal areas are great for spending time in groups or having friends over, but sometimes you need a little alone time or some seclusion to finish off a piece of work. Your bed becomes a multi-fuctional space and it’s not uncommon to be found reading, eating, sleeping and working (sometimes you just don’t want to study at your desk!) on it all year round. I know this tray will serve me well, even beyond my uni days for lazy breakfasts in bed and the like, comes in a choice or two colours and looks big enough to comfortably sit my MacBook and a mouse
6. Subscription to your magazine/organisation of choice
Grad students need to be living and breathing their field at all times and I say “subscription” for a reason. Getting into the habit of frequently reading and researching news and trends can be hard to sustain and having a lovely bundle land on your doorstep or into your inbox will make the process exciting and always at the front of your mind.
If your budget allows, I would recommend subscribing to your field’s top magazine, or the one you feel would benefit you the most. If your budget doesn’t allow for a regular subscription, you can always stick to buying just one or two editions every now and again, getting an online-only subscription (which are usually a lot cheaper) or by checking out your university library for any magazines or glossy journals they may subscribe to on your behalf. My magazine of choice would be The Bookseller, which offers online and online-and-print packages that come with other yummy extras every now and again. But I would also love subscriptions to other art-based magazines such as the typography one included in my wishlist – it’s just so pretty! Alternatively, if budgets are really tight, check out any relevant blogs, find out if they send regular updates and newsletters and subscribe the hell out of them! Anything regular will help you keep your finger on the pulse of whatever industry you want to be in the middle of.
Instead of magazine subscriptions (or as well as if you’re able), you could check out any organisations relevant to your field. For aspiring publishers, the best one around is the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) and is available for anyone working within the publishing sector or studying to enter into it (like me). It’s £25 for students and £30 for non-students for a year’s subscription to job opportunities, internships, meet-ups and more, which I think is a very good price. Do a Google search and find out what is being recommended in your field.
So do you have any tips for me? Any items you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments!