A Literature Student's Guide to the University: To-Do ListSeptember 24, 2019

You're excited about the upcoming term until your next visit to the English Department. A small group of (older) students are talking about Herman Melville, the poet. You read "Moby Dick", even a number of his short stories. You’re clueless about his poems, though. You're missing on something, making you restless. You must revise your to-do list one more time. Then again, you might be overthinking about the coursework.

The English Department offers a variety of modules that could turn you into a passionate, if not enthusiastic, student of literature. Aside from assessing Melville's bibliography, you also get the chance to write a review on Elle Fanning's depiction of Mary Shelley. It seems intimidating after you've been reminded of Lafcadio Hearn's path to literary greatness. The Irishman, who wrote "Kwaidan" among other things, had been obsessed about horror since childhood. This is a result of his being an outcast at a very early age, though. It's a different case with Shelley, and the same thing goes with the other authors. It's exciting whenever you think about it, but there are other things to focus on. In other words, your to-do list doesn't include tips on how to write an essay on Thomas Hardy (or any novelist that you're unacquainted with).

If you want to do well, you must make your mental well-being your top priority. After all, literary analysis would demand your attention and full use of your mental faculty. You need to eat the right food, sleep for eight hours (or more), and engage in any form of physical activity whenever your schedule permits. There’s no need to worry if you don't want to get up early (for a morning exercise), as long as you can make it up the following day or the day after next. This is a good start, as the list would teach you to be more human. Studying can dominate your life, and the study of literature can be much more.

5 Ways to Achieve the Good Life (in the University)

Try to avoid sharing a house with other undergraduates. This piece of advice may shock you, as socialising is essential in a student's life. But you're a Literature student. It won't be the typical life in the university unless you're thinking of switching courses after observing other students closely. They have different schedules and agendas, which you will find out during your first month. You may promise to devote lots of time to reading and writing, but promises are made to be broken. If you can't smile too often, you can use social media to keep in touch with your new mates. Try to organise a study group especially if you're about to write an essay on James Joyce's works.

Panic early to get on top. This other piece of advice might prompt you to laugh out loud, but you must not. Assignments come thick and fast after your first few weeks. Let's not forget that you're still adjusting to the daily routine (of a university student). Can you make that adjustment quickly? If you're unsure about it, you must not hesitate to bother your tutor or pastoral-care professional. You need someone who had been there before.

Take on the modules that are laid on by your department. You have the other option to suggest other modules, which aren't thought before. If you're persuasive (or charming) enough, it would be approved faster than you hope for. You would feel proud about being a trailblazer until reality struck you. The details could overwhelm you, making you wish that you have another look at the list of modules that are laid on by your professors. It's not too late to have a change of mind.

Do anything that will take you outside of the (academic) bubble. This is one way of looking at yourself, as studying literature can take up most of your time. Your interests would play a part, making you forget about looming deadlines and examinations. You must not take it seriously. 

Clubs and societies are there, but you don't want it. Studying can overtake your days, and literary studies might be worse. Be as social as you can afford, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that joining a club (or society) is mandatory to all students. Then again, becoming a member would be one way of expanding your network of friends and acquaintances. It would be important later in your life, but keep yourself grounded (in the present). Sundays could be a good chance to participate in any activity that would foster camaraderie among members of the club (or society).

What's Life for a Literature Student?

If you follow the to-do list, life could be similar to a nine-to-five routine. The hours of reading and writing would make it quieter, but it could challenge anyone with boundless energy and those who get restless from not doing anything. You might be lucky to meet someone (and fall in love), and it would make your life more complicated. If you can arrange your schedule (and priorities) accordingly, you won’t have a problem at all.

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