Everything you really learn as a third year English student

It’s not all sitting around drinking fine wine and discussing Oscar Wilde you know

When you’re a first/second year University student everything is pure bliss. Especially if you study English. You’re basking in your wild social life, thinking 10am is “too early” and gazing gloriously at your collection of old Vodka bottles on your windowsill. Occasionally you read something.

But the problem is, no one remembers to warn you. Soon enough, you will have so much work, so many books, so many papers, that your likely to forget you’re own name, and probably won’t even remember why you went to university in the first place.

For all those students entering the dark side of studying English, this is my warning to you.

If you choose to do a dissertation, you’ll regret it

Let’s start at the beginning. If, like me, you’re an idiot and think you can handle the challenge of doing a dissertation, then praise to you, but remember, you will spend two thirds of your time regretting you ever did it. One of the most painful, repeated experiences you will have is meeting with your dissertation tutor. You’ll always discuss how “well you’re getting on”, when really there’s a hole in the wall of you’re tiny student room, because you threw your lamp from Wilko’s in a moment of uncontrollable rage.

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Your dissertation tutor is not your friend

But, let’s be clear on this. Attempting to have any form of banter is a big no no. Plus it’s apparently not acceptable for you to try and hug them once you’ve handed it in. Awkward.

Every essay you write will have something to do with gender

While your social life slowly decays as you embark upon the journey of “THE DISSERTATION”, your other modules won’t be that great either. Oh, i’m pretty certain you will choose a module on GENDER, you may even push the boat out and try MODERNISM. Either way, you will be overcome with endless novels that find a way to bring up the debate of FEMINISM.

You will read hundreds of secondary material, that you’ll read several times, and still come out with the phrases “What the bloody hell did i just read? Was that even English? Do i even still speak English? I’m i still even on planet Earth? Who the hell is Dickens?”

Because there are hardly any contact hours, you’re studying all the time

After months of essay writing and forcing yourself to go to lectures, (lets face it, that only lasts a few months), Christmas arrives. But no, you’re a ENGLISH student. You don’t have time to stuff you’re face with turkey and sit in your pyjamas while you’re Dad attempts to put up the christmas lights without punching anything. You must study.

While all your friends are complaining they have a 1,500 word essays to write, you wont be able to hear them. This is due to the fact that you are currently up to your eyeballs in deadlines, journal articles, dissertation chapters, comments on dissertation chapters, and oh yes, the two 3,000 word essay plans, which you still haven’t started.

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You’re supposed to be good at grammar, but it all goes out the window

Let’s be clear, one of the most stressful moments throughout the whole time of your dissertation is getting it bound. You will proof check your work a million times, hoping, praying, that you have used the correct “Your”. You will sweat and shake as you print it off, speaking to the good Gods above that the printer does not break! Once printed, you hand over your dissertation to the old shrew in the library, considering taking up therapy as you are quite frankly traumatised.

The last couple of essays are the hardest you’ll ever do

All you want to do, is be free, travel and find yourself in the rural outbacks of Thailand. But you struggle to even write your student name and number. As all your friends complain about memorising a text book for their final exam, you must find the strength to write yet another essay on an Ian McEwan novel. Rather than writing your essay, you’re suddenly writing a strongly worded email to the man himself,

“Dear Mr McEwan,

I admire your writing, and you’re glowing silver hair, but quite frankly, i’ve had enough of your shit”

Even when you’ve made it, people will still mock your degree

You’re an English student. You will be expected to become a teacher. Your experience and credentials will not always suffice. But you are one of the most hard working students there is. Bask in your glory. Have a beer.

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