A day in the life of a Master’s student at Edinburgh

Are postgrads really so different to everyone else?

Like most people, I had yet to learn what postgrads did before starting my course a month ago. During my undergrad degree, their lives were shrouded in mystery – as far as I was concerned, they spent most of their time in the library, had lots of earnest conversations and rarely went out unless attending discussion groups or the occasional pub quiz. Now, a month into my Master’s in Edinburgh, I can confirm that while some of these stereotypes are true (I am partial to a good pub quiz and the occasional library session), most are not, and they don’t have to be.

During my undergrad, I met many interesting people and had a few good nights out, but I’ve also enjoyed having more control over my time, which has meant lots of exploring the city and trying new things. I know this time a year ago, I would’ve loved to know what a day in the life of a postgrad looked like, so for anyone in the same position, read on!

9am – Breakfast and seminar prep

While as an undergrad, I rarely dragged myself out of bed before 9am unless I had an early class or exams coming up, this year I’ve tried to embrace the early morning (hearing everyone you meet complain about the lack of daylight hours in Scotland will do that to you). After a healthy dose of procrastination, I get up and have breakfast with my flatmate (that is unless she’s already left for her job – another significant change from being an undergrad). Usually, I’ll take a while doing this, but this morning I’ve got a seminar and need to remind myself of the reading before l leave, so I have one last look over it before it’s off to George Square.

11am – Seminar and quick library trip

After a very rainy walk to campus through the Meadows (I’m starting to suspect that whoever told me it doesn’t rain a lot here was lying), I arrive at George Square for my Philosophy Proseminar. This is a relatively new addition to the philosophy Master’s course that aims to bring everyone from the course together once a week to discuss anything from personal identity to how philosophy can help us navigate life. This week, we’re studying Anscombe and her views on the self, which involves an in-depth discussion of the exact meaning of the word “I” and what it refers to. Feeling both more confused and more confident about this week’s reading (a familiar feeling for any philosophy student), I head off to the library for what is admittedly a brief trip to plan out the rest of my week.

2pm – Pick up some lunch and head home

With my class finished and my week (somewhat optimistically) planned out, I stop by Sainsbury’s to pick up some food for this week and grab a quick lunch from the Starbucks next door. Back in the flat, I have a short study break while I eat lunch and watch a quick episode of whatever TV show I’m watching (currently, it’s Gavin and Stacey) before heading off to a new spot to work this afternoon.

2.30pm – Work in a cafe

I’ve spent the last month dutifully exploring all of the cafes in my area (my favourite so far is Redbox) – I’ve got it down to a couple I’ll choose between a few times a week. Today, it’s Leaf and Bean, and I settle into some reading for the next two hours on the essential indexicality of beliefs, a phrase which I am still yet to fully understand. This is one of my favourite parts of my day – for some reason, coffee and the constant sound of plates clattering in the background makes for a surprisingly productive work environment.

5pm – Yoga Class

After inevitably underestimating how long it would take to get back to my flat, drop off my stuff and walk over to Pleasance, I meet a friend from my course for a weekly yoga class at the university gym (the uni has a fantastic yoga society with classes for only £3). This week it’s Vinyasa flow, the perfect way to end a busy day, and I leave feeling much more relaxed and ready for the rest of the week. This is only slightly dampened by getting absolutely soaked on the way home in what I have now realised is an almost daily ritual for Edinburgh residents, and for the hundredth time since I moved here, I wish I had remembered an umbrella.

A very wet walk back

7.30pm – Dinner with flatmate and pub trip

After drying off and finishing a final bit of reading for the day, it’s time to have dinner with my flatmate. On nights that we’re both in, we take turns cooking, and tonight’s spaghetti bolognese. We catch up on our days and eat dinner before heading to a local pub at about 8.30 to meet a friend from school who lives in Edinburgh. Since moving here, I’ve loved exploring all the different pubs and restaurants near where I live, and tonight it’s the Earl of Marchmont, where we stay for a few drinks and make good use of the stack of games they keep in the corner.

Said flatmate cooking dinner

11pm – End of the day

At 11pm it’s finally time to head back to the flat and watch an episode of TV before the end of the day. As much as I would love to say I do something productive like read a book before going to bed, it’s been a busy day, so for now; it’s one last scroll of the phone before calling it a day and setting the alarm for tomorrow when I’ll do it all again.

So there you have it – the day-to-day life of a Master’s student demystified. As much as I thought my life would change a lot once I graduated and started my Master’s, it’s almost the same as it used to be at uni. Although I might have a few more seminar hours than I’m used to and spend a bit more time in the library, I’m doing work that’s interesting and surrounded by other people who feel the same, so it doesn’t feel too difficult. After all, we all have to leave the university bubble sometime, so why not put it off just that little bit longer?

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