Hello readers! I’m back in the UK, have been for a while, and I’m currently studying and working part-time. In my spare time I’m either sleeping, eating or working on assignments. So, I ask you this: how on earth can I find the time to travel? Well the answer could be a simple ‘don’t’. But that would be boring. Instead, the focus should be more on what you can do to free up time; watch less Netflix would be a start.
Now, maintaining a work life/social life balance is something that everyone finds difficult, but it’s something that university students struggle with especially. After work, most people get the evenings and weekends to relax, unwind, and maybe see friends, but when you have deadlines every few weeks, that time is usually spent in the library or chained to your laptop. If you also have a part time job while studying, the amount of free time you have is cut dramatically, in my case by 18 hours.
Pro Tip: If you’re studying at university and also want a part-time job for whatever reason, I’d recommend not working more than 12-16 hours per week; that should leave enough time for your reading, assignments and social life.
My solution has been to take my secondary reading to work, to read in breaks (not on shift, guys! Let’s give everything 100%), and to read before bed (trust me, some of those critical essays will put you right to sleep). Now, of course I’m not saying you can’t have any recreational fun; what kind of advice would that be?! But if you like to procrastinate with Netflix, let’s make it productive – clean your room; cook your meals ahead of time; eat dinner; get dressed and the crucial one; do your makeup, all in front of your preferred TV/film watching site! I cannot stress enough how much time this has given me! If I limit my Netflix watching to be done with another activity, I’m twice as productive and that means more spare time to plan a little getaway.
Critical readings? Check. Household chores done? Check. Netflix account made full use of? Double check. And now for the weekends, surely my work is all done and my house is all clean and I can just travel Friday-Sunday no questions asked? Absolutely! That is, if I didn’t have to work Friday and Saturday nights…
So how to get around my contracted work hours? Well I have to limit my travel to the days in between, and the days when I don’t have lectures (easier said than done). Reading weeks are especially helpful because they offer a whole week free of lectures (usually) so I try to make sure I have something planned for then. The last reading week meant that I got to go home and see my family for a few days, and while that’s hardly extensive travel, I did end up taking the scenic route back to London, stopping a few times along the way to see what Ascot and Windsor had to offer.
The key thing about travelling for me is transport; without my car I’d be stranded in Southampton for a lot of the term, and I wouldn’t travel nearly as much as I do. However, I know it’s not an option for everyone, so my next favourite method would be train (even though our train services in the UK are both shockingly expensive and shockingly bad). If the journey is going to be a long one (like Southampton-Exeter) I’d much rather spend 3 hours on a train, reading and napping, than concentrating in the car.
I’m fortunate to have the car, and to have money to travel, and still have enough time to complete my assignments. Don’t get me wrong, I work damn hard to achieve what I do, and the part-time job funds all of my extra-curricular activities, so it’s not like I’m sponging off my parents to travel; I’ve made it work myself and I’m proud of that. But I realise I’m coming from a place of privilege where my parents can support me if things get a bit tight. That said, if you really want to travel, uni is the best time because we get long holidays that fall just outside the regular school holidays (making them cheaper). Just get yourself a part-time job, save up a little and plan in advance!
I know this got a little long, but I just wanted to share my personal experience with you guys, and if you have any travel tips, please let me know!