Christmas On My Own + Balancing School and Work


When you’re a student, the Christmas ‘vacation’ must be put in inverted commas. Most UK universities have exams in January, so the real work begins as the semester ends. I’m actually lucky enough to have no exams, but I have 3 assignments due on the same day.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I wasn’t able to go back to Trinidad for this Christmas vacation. Flights are really expensive, so I’ll be here until the end of the school year. 🙁 Everyone seems to find it very tragic that I had to spend Christmas alone, but I was absolutely fine. I did miss parang music and Caribbean Christmas food, but I kept myself occupied during the season. I generally don’t mind being alone, and I catch up with my friends and family at home almost everyday, so I managed to survive.

If there’s one thing about me, I love being busy! I’m more productive when I have less spare time, so why not make some money while I’m keeping busy? All through the semester I’ve been doing different jobs on campus with Unitemps- the university staffing agency. However, for the holiday season I got a temporary job at Hotel Chocolat- a shop in Guildford Town Centre. It’s a shame that it was only temporary, because I really loved working there! I would always recommend that students have a part time job- even if it’s a zero hour contract. You develop so many transferable skills from working in retail, and it gives a real sense of adulthood. I personally love interacting with customers, and I also love chocolate, so this job was a great match. Wherever you work, it’s important that you’re happy with the company’s operation and the tasks that you’re required to do. Needless to say, it’s a lot easier to get up in the morning when you can anticipate a fulfilling day. I chose to spend both Christmas Eve and Boxing Day at work, and it didn’t feel like a burden, because I loved being there!

In the same way, it’s important that you make your studies work for you. With the Arts and Social Sciences, you tend to be given lots of freedom to focus on what you enjoy. As a person who’s very proud of my culture, I look for every reason to do my assignments on topics that are relevant to me. I often focus on West Indian authors, postcolonial discussions, race relations and so on. The volume of reading gets overwhelming sometimes, but it feels less laborious when I’m learning about things that I can engage with.

As with all things in life, finding a balance is important. I started off working one day on the weekends during semester, and then did more hours once the winter vacation began. Most employers are very understanding and flexible around student schedules, but it’s your responsibility to prioritise. Some people prefer to work at nightclubs or bars, where they’d usually have late shifts at night, and leave their days free. Find whatever works for you! I was tempted to work as many hours as I could, and spend the extra time doing assignments. I opted instead to work every other day and dedicate the alternate days to school-work and exercise. This turned out really well, as I was able to distribute my energy accordingly. I paid attention the number of weeks that I had before the deadline, and the amount of reading and writing that I estimated for each assignment. Quick maths.


At the end of the day (0r month) it’s useful to be able to budget your own earnings to make sure that rent is paid and the groceries aren’t expired- then budget your time to make sure that there aren’t any typos in your final essay. So what have I been doing all out here on my own? Being a big girl, that’s what.