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A Week in the Life of Stephanie

Picture for Stephanie Richter's postgraduate diary

Stephanie is studying the MA in Medieval Literatures. She previously completed an MA degree at the University of Mainz (GER) in English Literature and Northern European Languages. She is writing her MA dissertation on ‘Representations of the Foreign and the Strange in the Poetic Edda’. Stephanie runs and plays the guitar, and is an active member of York's Centre for Medieval Studies' drama group - the Lords of Misrule. 



Since I’m in the third term of a one-year MA programme, there are no more classes to attend. Starting the day with a brisk run through the fields, I head towards the library at around 10am to work on the bibliography for my dissertation and continue working on a chapter. After a coffee-break from 3-4pm, the reading and writing continues (although I generally prefer to read or research first and then do the writing in the afternoon). At 7pm, the CMS’s own drama group, the Lords of Misrule, begin their rehearsal. After about two hours, we wrap up the session and head towards the pub.


An unscheduled day off! A friend’s college has organised a rafting trip which takes up half the day from noon until 5pm (sufficient physical activity being ensured for today, I skip the morning run). Rushing back home to get ready (and dry) for another rehearsal with a drama group that is going to play on one of the wagons for the York Mystery Plays. Enough excitement for today. The evening ends quietly in order to let my batteries recharge fully for the next day.


A friend and I decided to pay the University of Leeds library a visit. This pretty much takes up the whole day. After locating the source material, we try to get as much work done as possible at the library on the day for our dissertations. A short stroll (because: rain happens) through Leeds in the late afternoon and back we go to York. I use the early evening hours to fiddle around with a costume for the Mystery Plays until a home-cooked dinner finalises the day.


Unless there is an uber-pressing immediate deadline of doom hanging over my head, I have made it a general rule that Sunday is my day off (apart from such trivialities as laundry or chores – but let’s not defile the day of the sun any further here). Soul time, so much soul time! Also, the obligatory coffee might be accompanied by cake or ice cream, depending on the current meteorological situation. The Museum Gardens are probably one of the student hot-spots for a relaxed day in the sun, so some friends and I revel in fulfilling this cliché and literally just “hang around”. In the evening, we meet up with other friends (mark the organizational skills!) for a game night. And so the evening and the week ends until the whole madness is going to start all over again the next day.


Today I am meeting my supervisor to discuss the progression and structure of my thesis. I therefore use the time before our meeting at 1pm to do some more preparation, perhaps rewrite some passages and go through my previously made plans for the chapter(s). The meeting itself takes about 30 minutes. After that, I head back to the library to look up and (hopefully) find some secondary material my supervisor suggested. Leaving the library around 5pm, I use the time between now and dinner to update my blog, practice my guitar skills or just cuddle my housemate’s cat – soul time. Later that day, we’re having dinner and a film night at a friend’s place.


In my case, Thursdays are very similar to Mondays: the day starts with library work in the (late) morning, is interrupted by a coffee-break (addiction, luxury food – technicalities, really) and again continues until about 5pm, followed by some highly cherished soul time. The misruling lords meet again at 7pm until they just cannot stand each other any longer and decide to settle their differences by consuming certain types of beverages. Today, however, this obligatory tradition is jazzed up by some of us performing at the Open Mic Night. Laughter and merriment ensue.


On Saturdays, I always try to complete the work that, for whatever reason, I did not manage to get done during the week (another morning run happens today because I had to skip it for Leeds the previous day). So the better part of this day is filled with reading articles or chapters, working on my bibliography, completing my set goal in terms of word count for the week, or just simply filing (I do believe in organisation – I just have to remind myself of it every now and then). When this is done, there is usually always something going on on a Saturday night in York. Today it’s a friend’s birthday which means dinner and then, drumroll: pub.