According to my mother, 20-something years ago, Reading Week was actually called “Ski Week”. Apparently, students would take the week off to travel up to a ski lodge, where they would spend the week cruising the slopes, sipping hot cocoa, and enjoying the company of friends as they ate a delightful dinner by the fireplace.
I’m pretty sure I stared at her, incredulous, for about 15 minutes straight as she told me this. A quick glance at my own calendar suddenly reveals that I have three midterms alone within the first four days of school after Reading Week, not to mention to consecutive weeks of deadlines after that. Not unlike many other U of T students, the realization has suddenly hit me: I have to do reading during Reading Week.
Now, I should clarify right off the bat – I’m a nerd. So with honesty, I usually spend Reading Week doing some type of study – whether it’s catching up on missed readings, working ahead on assignments or prepping for a legal competition I participate in every year – I always end up studying during Reading Week. Unlike this year, however, that the studying is balanced;I generally study in the daytime, meet up with friends in the evenings, and take some weekend time off with my family.
This Reading Week, however, is a whole new ball-game. What is scaring me is that suddenly, the studying is no longer optional. I’ve got hundreds of pages to study for the midterms, weeks of lectures to memorize (about 90 hours of straight lecture) and numerous papers and assignments to start working on. Panic mode is looming as my hair suddenly turns from a lovely brown to grey to white to bald, because in my frustration, I pulled all my hair out. My friends aren’t kidding when they say after Reading Week that I look like a new person! 🙂
I really want to give you advice on how to plan a trip during Reading Week, but to be honest, I can’t even remotely imagine a vacation during Reading Week, let alone give you advice. So, I’m going to give you tips on what I do know, even though it it much more boring: how to manage your free time during reading week.
1) Evaluate the Battlefield –>Sit down and make a list of all the things you have to do and for each item, allocate a realistic time frame in which that item can be completed. Be generous with the time allotments, and be realistic.
2) Create a Plan of Attack –> Make a schedule to effectively plan how and when everything will get done. Creating a schedule hour by hour means more than just choosing a day when a certain item will be done – it means planning realistically when you will sleep, wake-up, and study.
3) Rally the Troops –> A lot of my friends make a plan and then come back to school complaining family plans messed up their schedules. Newsflash? Your parents live in the room next you! Talk to them about their long weekend plans, and see how their schedules can be fit into yours to incorporate family time.
4) Set a Deadline –> A friend and I are planning to meet up “study group style” to prepare for a midterm. The study group session is based on whether or not we can finish the hundreds of pages of readings in time. I just realized this is the wrong mentality. The study group should be a fixed date, because it will force me to ensure the readings are done so I am prepared. If the stud group is a flexible date, it becomes easy to push the date back later and later. Setting deadlines means you don’t just set deadline for yourself, but also deadlines which are immobile, ensuring you sit down and get the work done.
5) Medal/Reward for Hard Work –> Don’t forget, this is Reading Week, and you deserve some time off for the hard work you have put into school so far. Although you may not get a to take alternative days off during the Reading Week, consider watching a movie at home one evening as a quick fix, or going out for a dinner. Set your rewards as you achieve your goals and deadlines, and it can still be a balanced reading week.
Any other tips? Please leave a comment below!