How to spend reading week 



Whichever year of university you’re in, you’re probably constantly stressed, overworked, not nourished and not well rested during term time. Some weeks, it’s possible that goi find yourself not going anywhere apart from lectures, tutorials and the library.


However, Kings College, like a few other colleges kindly has the concept of ”reading week”. An incoming student, I had a very romantic notion about it but quickly learnt that it too can be one of the most hectic ones. However, it’s a shame if we spend a 216 hours of freedom just like the rest of term.


So I took the liberty to compile a realistic list of things you can do during reading week to balance out the academic catch up as well as the experiential learning you might want to do in London. 


  1. Make a list of all the academic work you plan to do during the week 

As bland as it is, having some sort of idea of all the work you have will help you block out the chunks of time you have to explore and meet people and do things apart from staying at your computer screen. It helps you be realistic and not overbook yourself  - causing a last minute, overnight cram session on Sunday.


  1. Go on a trip 

I understand why one wouldn’t want to spend the entire week away from London. Especially for those who’ve just moved here but it is still great to explore what Europe or even England has to offer. If you book early enough, you get fantastic deals to places like Budapest, Germany, Paris, Italy, Belgium and Brussels. They’re all beautiful countries that are wonderful to visit with a couple friends. 


If booking a full-fledged trip is too much of a hassle, there are still options within the UK for you to do small day trips. These require much less planning and are way less expensive. A trip to Oxford and Cambridge might give you the boost of motivation you need to tide you over the rest of the term. Brighton is a wonderful place to visit for the day. 


If you have any friends in universities in the UK, this is the perfect time to go down and visit them. You wouldn’t have to pay for accommodation, you would get to see a familiar face and even experience the culture of a different university.


  1.  Hyde park  

Reading week of first term is fantastically timed. The sun is saying it’s a adues and the clouds and settling in. It is perhaps the last week of the year where you can steal some sunshine and what better place to do it that Hyde Park. Grab three buddies, pack a picnic (or buy some sandwiches and crisps in the pret nearby), take a stroll around the park, maybe, if you are feeling wild, get some ice cream, take wonderful pictures. This is also the last week that paddle boating is open. Let your hair loose and rent a boat for half an hour. Enjoy the crisp air and forget the stress of being a student. Enjoy what this wonderful city has to offer.


  1. Make calls and socialise

There are probably a lot of friends back home as well as here that you haven’t caught up with because of work deadlines and term time stress. Take about an hour long break every day to call friends and family back home that you haven’t spoken to. Perhaps even meet up with new friends you’ve made here and catch up with people you otherwise wouldn’t. It’s very easy to put socializing on the back burner while doing work but it’s important to get out and meet people you wouldn’t  generally see and what other time to do it then reading week. 


Maybe even make people feel special. If you want to go the extra mile and be cute and artsy, you could buy some cute postcardsamd stamps (postcards are around 70p and international stamps are about £1.50 each) and send them back home or send them your friends across the world. Tell them how much you appreciate them and that you’re grateful for them. It’s a cheesy thing to do but could really put a smile on their face.


  1. Take time off

As a freshman, the first few weeks of socializing can get extremely taxing on you if you don’t take time off for yourself. Put on a face mask, listen to music, watch a film and just have some much required and deserved  “me time”, which is very easy to forget to do. During the stress of second and third year, it’s difficult to remember to take care of yourself. 


It’s called wellbeing week for a reason - focus on your mental and physical self during this week. Eat healthy, go for a run, think happy and not stressful thoughts. Make a list of all the things you’re grateful for, all the experiences you’re thankful for and all of the people you are appreciative of. Put things in perspective, remember to prioritize. 


  1. Explore the city

Samuel Johnson once said that “ If you're bored in London, you’re bored of life.” All it takes is one google search to find fun things to do in London. You’ll find tons of blogs and websites giving you various different things to do which require various different budgets in various parts of the city. So you have no reason to not do any of them. Go to Camden, walk around Covent garden and do some shopping. Treat yourself. Take a stroll around the borough you live in - you probably haven’t exploded it as well as you wanted to. Just put on some music and explore. Even within a 500 metre radius you’ll find so many gems you didn’t know existed.


As much as well-being week can get super stressful, it’s a week filled with no lectures where you can schedule the day the way you want to. So enjoy it. Sleep in late, drink lots of hot chocolate and watch films (numerous a day), spend time with people (in person or virtually) that make you happy. 


Rejuvenate yourself, you have a stressful time ahead.