Accessibility statement

A Week in the Life of Will

Diary picture for Will Haydon postgraduate diary

Will is from the UK and is studying the MA in Renaissance Literature. He’s in his fifth year in York. When he’s not studying for his course or working at a restaurant in town, he maintains an active and varied social life, playing football, contributing to University media societies, or watching student plays. 

Image credit: Humans of York



I get to the Berrick Saul building to start working at about 9.30am. First order of business today is to sketch out a plan and reading list for one of the two termly essays I’ll be writing, since the tutor whose module the essay is for has an office hour at 11. My ideas aren’t fully formed, but I know this tutor well – when I was an undergraduate at York he encouraged me to stay on to do the Masters – so he knows what kind of questions he needs to ask to get me thinking coherently. I spend the rest of the day reading the primary material for this tutor’s seminar tomorrow morning, two Jacobean revenge tragedies. At 6pm I pack up and play football with some friends on the Astroturf, then afterwards we go for a few pints in the Vanbrugh college bar.


I’m a little tired this morning so I give myself an extra hour in bed, then mooch around the house for a little while. As I get to campus the Bike Doctor, who comes by once a month and helps students fix their bikes for free, is just about to leave – I tell him about the squeaky noise my bike’s been making and he sorts it out. I head to the library to get the books I’ll need for my essays, and I decide to spend the afternoon working there for a change of scene. At 6pm there’s a CREMinar – a seminar/lecture organised by the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies – led by one of my academic heroes, Paul Menzer, an associate professor at Mary Baldwin College in the US. Afterwards for dinner we have a table booked at our regular CREMS haunt, a Chinese restaurant in town.


My Minster Library seminar goes well – I’m not a good public speaker, but I’d got up early to go over my notes and so felt pretty prepared. With a group of friends I go to one of the pubs near campus for lunch – they do a special lunch deal on Fridays, so we try to make it there every week. I’m starting to write for an on-campus satire magazine, and over lunch I pitch some article ideas to my friends. It’s sunny this afternoon so we work outside, then in the evening I have a restaurant shift. It’s busy tonight, and we don’t get out until after midnight. I’d normally join the rest of the staff for a drink in town after a weekend shift, but I know I’ve got a busy day tomorrow so I head home.


I try to take Sundays off, but I’m conscious that I didn’t really work yesterday, so I catch up this morning by doing a bit of research for my dissertation. After lunch I do my weekly food shop, and when back home I prepare a big vat of Bolognese to be cooking over the afternoon. Since I rarely have time to make packed lunches in the morning or evening during the week, I often bulk-cook enough of something on the weekend for it to last until the next Friday. I go for a walk with my girlfriend, we watch TV, I call my parents, and I plan out my next week.


I’ve set my alarm for 7am, a little earlier than normal, because I fancy running into campus – there’s a shower in the Berrick Saul building that I can use. After the seminar a few of us go for lunch at the Courtyard, one of the YUSU-run bars, as a special treat. Then it’s back to work. Today I’m doing some general research for the upcoming essay. I’m working at my restaurant tonight, a small family-run place in town. I do two or three shifts a week to help make ends meet, and besides I appreciate the change of pace. I finish early enough to get to a friend’s house party nearby.


Tomorrow’s seminar is going to be in the York Minster Library, and we’ve each been assigned a book held by the Library to give a ten-minute presentation on. I spend this morning preparing by leafing through my book, a mysterious seventeenth-century translation of Ovid that’s had its publication details torn out. In the afternoon I try to find some more information about this edition online, and then do some general, theory-based research. In the evening my girlfriend and I watch a play put on by the Drama Society. They’re a talented bunch, and tickets on Thursday are a bit cheaper, so I go whenever I can.


I get up early and get to the York Racecourse by 9am for the weekly 5K ‘Park Run’ held there. Afterwards I go to Leeds for a symposium at the university with a few friends from my course. A lot of the discussion is theory-based in a way that I haven’t experienced before, so it’s a stimulating (if exhausting) day. Afterwards we go to a pub nearby and I get the chance to talk to a few of the speakers – most of whom are early-career academics – about their experiences of getting from postgraduate study to where they are now, and they tell me about the kinds of challenges they faced. I get the train back to York with my friends, and invite them round for a late dinner at my house.