Spending the summer in Surrey has always been one of my favourite times. I spent a few lockdowns here. I love that everything slows down and you can enjoy the sunshine. Whether it’s going to the lido, going for a walk, having drinks at the lake, or simply being around my friends, I have so many fond memories. However, it can also be lonely. The majority of students will go home and whilst I enjoy having more space, it can also be isolating. Then as a master’s student, you have the added pressure of still studying, whilst many are simply just enjoying their summers before the next academic semester or tirelessly hunting down a job.
Despite this, you can still have fun during the summer. Being a student involves exploring yourself and your needs. Life is about balance and although your studies are important, it’s important to take care of yourself too.
There are often Facebook groups for people here over the summer so you can connect with each other. Many postgrads will also be here, and it’s a time you can socialise with your peers. Since campus is quieter, you can also meet people at the lake or at events around town. Many people will be in a similar situation and although it may feel awkward, it’s likely the other person will be grateful if you reach out too.
I’m currently working as a Research Assistant for the MoveMe Emotion Project, which is liked to my dissertation. I am using EEG caps to record participants’ emotions elicited whilst watching film clips. In doing so, I am also exploring the effects of anxiety, depression and sleepiness. I’m enjoying having my own lab and getting to connect with new people through research. It also adds some structure to my day as I really struggle with so much time to self-study.
I am fortunate that my position is paid, so it is able to help me with the bills over the summer. Depending on your course, a part-time job may be needed – I do this and then roles within the student ambassador and marketing team. This means I can still do some work whilst moving around. Though I’m really looking forward to working on graduation and seeing everyone dressed up with their families. It’s such a beautiful time of year.
I’m also gaining some experience for my course through volunteering. I have signed up to take calls for Alzheimer’s UK. I am looking forward to speaking to people with dementia and hearing their stories whilst also supporting them. Since I want to go into support roles, it will also help me with future positions. I am also close to finishing my yoga teaching course, which is really exciting. I use SSP to practise in a group setting.
More socially, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to go to some concerts and have a trip to Dublin. I saw Harry Styles last minute in London and I felt so grateful for living so close that it was possible to do so. In Dublin, I saw Sam Fender and Florence and the Machine (+ support acts). It was the perfect long weekend escape. It reminded me to breathe a little within the chaos and remind me there is a whole world out there to explore. It allowed me to take a step back from some of my worries and remind myself that things will work out in the end.
I attended ‘Love Saves the Day’ in Bristol, will be volunteering at ‘Wilderness’ in Oxford and going to ‘Reading Festival’. Guildford is also perfect for taking day trips to places, like Brighton or London. Sometimes a little escape helps with clarity. Having small trips or breaks to help split up the studying helps to keep me motivated and keep my well-being up. I stayed with my family in Wales for a week and explored nature. Something about being outside makes me feel so grounded and peaceful.
I also find being connected to the community in Guildford and campus to be helpful in reminding me I’m surrounded by people who care. I enjoy meeting people and connecting with others, and hearing everyone’s stories. Solar Sisters in town puts on a variety of events and the owners are so friendly and welcoming. There are also markets and festivals to attend. Guildford becomes so lively on a summer’s day.
In September, once my dissertation is complete, I’m visiting Asia. Then I am applying for research assistant roles for my return, before completing my last two modules in February. I then hope to explore South America before going on to do a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner Trainee Role and gaining various support experiences before a doctorate in Psychology.
Use the time in summer to get the results you deserve but also the rest you deserve. Try not to be too hard on yourself and don’t hesitate to reach out to support services if you need it. It can be overwhelming, especially when navigating jobs too, but find a balance and discover yourself.