Summer in Surrey as a Postgraduate researcher

Summer at Surrey is one of my favourite times of the year. The undergraduate students have finished for the year and campus becomes a lot quieter and you can really enjoy the sunshine. I often grab my laptop and work down by the lake, instead of being sat in my office, and no one is going to disturb you since it is the quietest time of the year. That said, it can feel more lonely in the summer, just because campus isn’t a hive of activity and the majority of sports clubs and societies have finished for the year. However, within my department, we make sure to keep in contact with each other and still have fun. For example, everyday we all meet up for tea at 11am. We even have a group chat because tea is such an important part of the day that you cannot miss!! My research group also organises trips to the local pubs, usually the Britannia or the Weyside. The Weyside is probably one of my favourite places to go because the pub garden gets plenty of sun and is right beside the river Wey.  We also have a BBQ and a picnic at the lake planned in a couple of weeks, so there is still plenty going on for postgraduate research students.

University of Surrey Lake

I’m currently in my 2nd year of my PhD so have a lot of lab work. During the summer this can be a bit easier as the lab equipment is not so high in demand. Summer is also a great time to catch up on any reading and research the conferences that are coming up in the next academic year. I’m actually going to be attending one towards the end of the summer in Edinburgh, which I’m looking forward to visiting as I have never been before. I also have been doing different Student Ambassador jobs when I have some free time. For example, I have been helping with campus visits and attending HE Fairs in the evenings. This is a great way to earn some extra money and is really flexible and works well with my PhD. Another great thing about being a Student Ambassador is that you meet so many people and I’ve made so many friends this way.

Student ambassador part-time job

At the weekends, I’ve been redoing my garden. I live around 30 minutes drive from the University and I am lucky to have a great garden. This year I’ve actually been able to grow lots of strawberries, tomatoes and raspberries, I’ve also made sure to plant bee friendly flowers and herbs such as lavender, rosemary and primrose. I’m lucky enough that my house is right next to a nature reserve so whenever the weather is nice, I always like to cycle or walk to the shops via the reserve.

Lavender, strawberries, raspberries, primroses and garden herbs

In the summer I am also going away for around two and half weeks on pilgrimage to Portugal to attend World Youth Day. World Youth Day is an event for young Catholics that happens every three years and usually around 3 million young Catholics attend. I am really looking forward to meeting people from all over the world and experiencing Portuguese culture. One thing I am really looking forward to is living with a host family in Porto and also attending Mass celebrated by the Pope (after spending the night sleeping on the event field!).

Overall summer is a great time at Surrey and plenty of things are still happening in Guildford. Summer is also a great time to step back and reflect on the year so far as life definitely seems to slow down during the summer months. But it is also important to take a break from your work and explore Guildford and further afield.