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A Week in the Life of Harriet

Harriet is from the UK and is studying the interdisciplinary MA in Culture and Thought After 1945 part time. When not working or studying, she enjoys yoga, running and learning foreign languages. Harriet works in a local café and also Teaches English as a Foreign Language.



On Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays I work in a café, so that’s what I’m doing today. At 7.30am I leave to cycle up to Monk’s Cross, the retail park, where the café is. In the evening, I cycle back home, cook dinner, and relax with my housemates. I live in off-campus university accommodation with lots of other postgraduates, many of whom have become good friends.


I am presenting at a conference that is being held at the University of York tomorrow, and although I have already written my paper, I need to spend the day tweaking my presentation and running through the timings. I walk into town and go to a coffee shop for a couple of hours in the morning and work on my laptop. Then I walk back home, picking up some groceries from the Newgate market, and a local supermarket, on the way. Back at home, I enlist my boyfriend to listen to me running through my paper. He listens to my paper three times, I make some recommended changes, and then eventually, reluctantly, admit that I cannot do any more to prepare. I spend the afternoon doing some research for my dissertation. In the evening, I go to a café with two of my housemates and we get a bite to eat and a drink.


I sleep in late today, after getting a fairly late night yesterday. It’s a beautiful morning so I sit in the garden for a couple of hours, reading a book that I’m going to use in my dissertation. Because it’s the summer term, I don’t have classes at the moment, so my dissertation is the only thing I have to work on. I am not handing it in until next year, being part-time, but I still have lots to do. At 2pm, I cycle to campus and meet the three friends with whom I’m planning a conference on disability next year. We try to meet regularly to discuss aspects of the planning and preparation. After our meeting, I go to a yoga class for an hour and a half, and then cycle home, where I cook dinner and spend an evening watching TV and reading a book that’s completely unrelated to my degree!


Back at work at the café again today, so another early start. It’s a really nice, sunny evening so after work, I go on a long jog along the river. After that, I make dinner and read a couple of articles that have been circulated in advance of a reading group that I’m going to go to next week.


Up until 5pm I follow the same routine as yesterday. Today, however, I cycle into town after work to meet my tutee. I tutor English as a Foreign Language and currently have one student. It’s really rewarding work. We have a 2 hour lesson and when I get home I go on a quick run before dinner.


Today is the day of the conference. I take the bus to campus for 10.30am, when it starts. I give my paper in the afternoon, and it goes down well. I’m relieved that it’s over, but I have also really enjoyed the whole day. Afterwards we have a wine reception and I chat to some of the other presenters and other MA and PhD students for a while. Then we all decide to move our drinks on to a local pub. There are about 15 of us in total. We spend a few more hours in the pub, drinking, eating, and chatting, and then I catch the bus home with a few people who live in the city centre, like me. I am completely exhausted.


I want to get a lot done today, so I get up early and head over to campus. I go to the Berrick Saul Building, a research centre for postgraduate humanities students, and settle down at a computer to read some articles and to try to sketch out a chapter plan for my dissertation. At lunch time, I meet some friends in the foyer and we eat together, and discuss our work and what we’ve been up to recently. Then it’s back to work, except I have to pop over to the library to get a couple of books first. I spend the rest of the afternoon doing more dissertation research, and also planning some work for my next tutoring session. In the evening, I watch a film with my housemates in the living room. We have a projector so we often arrange film nights together.