By Aikaterini Lygaki
Hilary term has its many joys, but along with its wintery aesthetic comes the time all finalists dread: writing and submitting our dissertations.
I’m a third-year English student, so I have unfortunately been part of those students studying at the library till closing time. But for all the hard work it has been, working on this extended essay has actually come with a lot of reward as well. For English, we get to study any author/ period of our choice as part of our 8,000 word essay that we submit at the end of this term.
For me, this has meant that I’ve gotten to study Regency Romances, from Jane Austen to Georgette Heyer to Julia Quinn. This has meant that working on my dissertation has been my favourite part of my degree by far, given that I’ve had the opportunity of studying such fun texts. I’ve also had an excuse to re-watch any Netflix adaptations of Austen and Bridgerton, so I don’t have to explain the joys of that.
What defines the dissertation is the double-edged perk of independently working at your own pace. Whilst this is great for those days that you don’t feel like working, it also means that you end up comparing your working style to others around you. I personally struggled with feeling behind, not because of my work, but because everyone else around me seemed to have ideas when my mind was completely empty. And so, the biggest learning curve in this entire process has been to let go of my self-imposed pressures and to focus on myself rather than my friends.
Overall, this dissertation has taught me much more than I expected, beyond the Regency world. I have learned to let go of harmful comparisons that I learned at school, and to embrace my work for what it is: entirely mine. And that’s an extremely liberating feeling to have. And so, if you are a stressed-out second-year, or a fresher, or even still at school, take heart in the fact that writing a dissertation is not as daunting nor as scary as it may seem.