Habits that prepare you for a time-crunched dissertation

mhmWe’re around one month into the first semester and I’m guessing, if you’re like me, you’re already stressing about your assignments and feeling behind. Trust me, the feeling of dread always creeps up around this time and you’re not the only one.

However, whether you’re in your first, second or last year of your BA I’m sure you’ve thought about your dissertation. Because no matter how many exams and essays you hand in, most of them are not even close to the level of work you have to put in for your dissertation.

The thing about dissertations is that it relies on how you’ve been working the last three years leading up to it. If you’re a chronic procrastinator, like me, you won’t magically get your shit together for your dissertation, that’s not how it works. Also, life doesn’t stop to give you some peace to work once it’s dissertation time, you still might have commitments in other parts of your life too.

tenorFor my dissertation it seemed like the world was against me. The data I’d applied for to use was denied one month after asking, making me have to scramble to find something else that could do the same job for my topic. And because I always spread myself too thinly on several topics the weeks before it was due I was exhausted. So there I was, 5 days before the due date, with only 2000 out of 10 000 words written down. Yet, I locked myself into my room and manged to hand it in on time and received, against all odds, an A as my final grade.

 

 

For me to manage this is not because I’m secretly a time traveler who could travel back in time to write it. But I’ve built up some good habits for my uni work these last three years. So, why not share those habits and tips with you all:

1. Find your topics early:

Now, I don’t mean your dissertation topic. I mean finding the topics withing your subjects that interest you the most. For me, it was the connection between media and democracy. Every semester paper or exam that would allow me to write about this I did. That way you’ll increase your knowledge greatly on these topics, meaning you know a lot of the theories and sources to use once you start on your dissertation.

2. Read news about your topics

Dissertations often have to be based on current issues and topics. Make sure you read news or follow social media accounts about your subject topics. That way, when it’s time to choose your dissertation topic you’ll know what is relevant at the moment, which also makes your dissertation even more interesting.

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3. Read the recommended literature

This goes for every topic, for every year. Read, read, read. If you’re at a lecture and you don’t understand, most likely it’s because you haven’t read. Know that the subjects you have and the recommended literature is there to prepare you for your dissertation and actually make you able to use the degree you are paying to get.

+ bonus tip: read popular science on your topics that are not on your reading list. Many times they are easier to digest and will give you loads of good information and ideas.

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4. Practice searching for sources

The way you search for academic sources in your first year is way different than during second year. The way you search for academic sources in your third year should also be way different than in second year. Take time to properly learn how to find valid and relevant academic sources. Using an article from Buzzfeed in your dissertations (or any academic text) should only be if the article is an example, not an actual source for your argument. Once you’ve found a lot of useful sources, save them in a folder for your dissertation.

5. Notes are your best friend

I’m a bit of a note-nerd. Every time I read for uni I take notes, usually by hand. What I then do is I rewrite my notes into a word document. I’ve been doing this since first year, meaning I’ve now got a shit long word document with notes (in categories) from my last 3 years. Instead of having to remember which book I read what, I’ll go into that document, look at the different topics and find what I’m looking for and in what book I got it from. Despite it taking some time to create this document, it’s saved me endless of time afterwards.

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6. Keep in contact with your dissertation supervisor

Listen, your dissertation supervisor is chosen for you because they’re one of the best within your topic at your uni. Why would you not keep in close contact with them? Mine was a saving angel and I cannot think of how many hours I wasted by not just messaging them first when I had some difficulties.

+ bonus tip: if you’re not happy with your supervisor, ask to change. I cannot press this enough.

7. Always have it in the back of your head

Yes, breaks are important. But you’re not going to be writing your BA dissertation for 1 year. It’s, in reality, a short amount of time. Take the breaks you need from writing (like I did for several weeks), but while you’re not writing you should still think about the different arguments you want to raise and use. Keeping myself in a dissertation “zone” while not physically working on it made it easier for me to know what I was going to write once I sat down.

8. Write, write, write!

The more you write during your three years at uni, and during your free time, the more comfortable you will be with writing academic texts in less time than people who don’t spend time on this. Writing any kind of text takes skill, and to gain skill you need to practice, even if it’s just 300-500 words a week.

9. Don’t follow my example

Listen, I know I was being stupid when I sat down with five days two write 8000 good academic words. No one should take that risk and I’ll never recommend anyone to take that risk. Work on building good habits from the first year. Find the topics you are most interesting and do the damn work. There is no magic way of getting good grades, most of us just have to put in the effort.

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Good luck you guys, no matter if you’ve got an essay, report, exam or dissertation coming soon!

10 things I’m happy about atm

1. Only 1,5 weeks until I hand in my bachelor thesis
2. Flowers everywhere and brighter days

3. Bestie is in town and I get to spend lots of quality time with her
4. The Slumflower on Instagram

5. Lizzo’s song ‘Juice’

6. Breakfast in bed
7. 3 days until 17th of May (Norway’s national day)

8. Learning how to paint
9. Working on being more positive in general
10. I can do whatever I put my mind on

 

What’s making you happy atm?

Studying abroad: Spring semester packing

 One late evening January 3rd this year (2018) I was frantically jumping on my suitcase to get it to close. I was going on an exchange trip with the Erasmus program and I was terrified of not bringing with me enough stuff.  I had packet one large suitcase, one large duffel bag and a medium sized backpack.

Now, after 4 months and a trip back home during Easter I realize that I probably over packed and could have saved myself a lot of stress. So I thought I’d make a post for all you other students thinking of studying abroad during your studies.

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Some clarifications:

  • I am in a long distance relationship, meaning I fly a lot. This has given me a silver membership with SAS which gives me an extra luggage to check in with every trip in addition to the one luggage I pay for on my ticket. Keep in mind that an extra luggage will probably cost more money. I’ve made the main list for 1 suitcase and a larger carry-on and an additional list if you have more room/an extra suitcase.
  • My stay was only for the spring semester in the UK, if you are going somewhere for a longer duration or somewhere hotter/colder – keep that in mind!

Jackets:

  • One larger and warmer jacket for January until March/April
  • One coat for milder days
  • Raincoat
  • A light jacket: denim/bomber*

Top:

  • 4 T-shirts
  • 3 Tank tops
  • 4 Knit/warmer sweaters
  • 4 lighter sweaters
  • 2 cardigans
  • 1 hoodie

Bottom:

  • 4 Trousers (this depends on if you like jeans or other types of trousers the best)
  • 2 Sweatpants/leggings/yoga pants for lazy days
  • 2 shorts*
  • 2 skirts

Dresses:

  • 2 Casual dresses (increase/decrease depending on how much you wear casual dresses)

Dressing up:

  • 3 Outfits for going out you enjoy and can mix and match
  • 1 Dinner/formal outfit (just in case)

Workout clothes:

  • As many sports bras/tops/trousers as days you workout
  • 1 Pair gym shoes

Underwear:

  • Underwear and socks for 2 weeks
  • Warm leggings and socks for the colder months
  • 1 Swimming costume*

Shoes:

  • 1 Pair sneakers
  • 1 Pair ballerina shoes
  • 1 Pair hiking/winter boots
  • 1 Pair heeled boots
  • 1 Pair going out heels
  • 1 Pair sandals*
  • 1 Pair rain boots**

Other wearables:

  • 1 Scarf
  • 1 Beanie
  • 1 Pair of gloves
  • 1 Pair sunglasses
  • 2 Purses
  • 2 Tote bags

Toiletries***:

  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Shower gel
  • Deoderant
  • Bodylotion
  • Face creams
  • Make up
  • Hairbrush
  • Raizors
  • Perfume
  • Nail polish/remover
  • Face wash
  • Tweezers
  • Hairproducts
  • All kinds of medication you have a prescription on (medicine, birth control, etc)****

Electronics:

  • 2 Adapters if the country you’re traveling to has a different plug than yours
  • 1 Phone charger
  • CAMERA/charger(you’ll regret not bringing it if you have one)

For your room*****:

  • 1 Large towel
  • 1 Medium towel
  • 1 Face towel
  • 1 Set of bedding
  • Hangers
  • 1 Blanket
  • 1 Fork
  • 1 Knife
  • 1 Spoon
  • 1 Bowl
  • Teddy bear if you want to bring something for homesickness

Carry-on:

  • 1 Book
  • 1 Phone charger
  • 1 Adapter
  • 1 Water bottle
  • Portable charger/s
  • Your laptop/charger
  • Exchange documents
  • Travel insurance
  • Credit cards******

Handbag:

  • Passport
  • Plane ticket
  • Phone
  • Headphones
  • Wallet
  • Non-passport ID
  • List of your exchange uni information (cell number and contact person)
  • Local emergency currency

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*If you are visiting home before the weather becomes warmer you can switch out your warmer clothes with this and not bring it all at once.

**Recommended if you’re going somewhere rainy and don’t have water resistance boots.

***I recommend you take with you what you have at home so not to waste it because you can buy all that at your exchange country.

****Make sure you collect the amount of prescription medication you need for your whole stay and documents to validate your usage of them if needed.

*****Some unis have deals where you can order room/bathroom/kitchen packages that will be in your room at your arrival – do some research to see if it will be worth it.

******I recommend bringing an extra credit card for another account or the same to store in your room in case you lose your wallet at some point. That way you don’t have to go days(maybe weeks) without cash because you need to wait for your new one.

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I hope this will help all of you who are going on exchange, and of course I hope you have a good trip!

Let me know if you’re going on exchange and if you use the list! And if you’ve already been on exchange and disagree/agree I’d love to hear your opinion!

Getting enough sleep

I’ve always been the type to function fine on little sleep. Give me 4 hours and I’ll be alright. But that’s the thing, I’ll be ‘alright’. For years now I’ve been sleeping around 4-6 hours a night and thinking this was the best it could get.

Then I read a post from Healthline – 10 Reasons Why Good Sleep Is Important. And I realized that something had to be done. I needed to work on my sleep schedule. So, that’s what I’ve been doing the last month, and I’ve gone from an average of under 6 hours per night to 8 hours this week!

This is the average I had with my Fitbit Alta HR, which tracks my sleep and the quality of my sleep, the last three months. In February and the first half of March I got 4-6 hours of sleep every night.

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After changing my schedule before bed time I now have an average of 7 hours per night. The average dropped for this month because of the first half, but the last half I’m closer to 8 hours per night!

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What I did:

1. Set your time of going to bed half an hour earlier every 2 days

I realized quickly that if I was used to going to bed at 2 am, the chances of falling asleep at 11:30 pm was very slim. So I decided to set the times of going to bed back half an hour every 2 days. So by 10 days I went from 2 am to 11:30 pm.

2.  Set a goal for when to wake up

Make sure that it’s a time that will give you the amount of rest you want. I wanted 8 hours of sleep so I made sure that I would wake up at 7:30-8 am since I wanted to go to bed at 11:30-12:00. Even if you don’t go to bed at your set time, make sure you wake up at your time so you’ll fall asleep as normal.

3. Cut the usual last cup of caffeine

I usually had a cup of coffee around 8 pm. I used to think that caffeine didn’t have a huge affect on me since I drink so much of it during the day. But it might have an affect even though you don’t notice it in energy levels. I’ve now switched the last cup of coffee with some caffeine-free tea, and it’s now a part of my evening routine.

4. Build a schedule

Usually I’d wash my face quickly, brush my teeth and lie in bed for about an hour with my phone before turning the lights off. Now I’ve come to realize that if I keep a proper schedule then my body and mind will know it’s time to wind down and get ready for sleep. Now I drink my night-time tea, carry out a set skin routine, brush my teeth and read for an hour with my phone on ‘do not disturb’.

 

I think the most important thing is to set your goals and try to stick with them the best you can. I’ve experienced huge differences in my energy levels and concentration after getting more sleep, and I’ll work hard to keep it as it is now.

 

Hope this can inspire some of you night owls to try to sleep a bit more and hopefully feel a bit better in your every days!

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Guide: Bath Spa, UK.

Nå er det deilig å bare ligge i sengen og gjøre ingenting. I går tok jeg toget 05:46, landet i Bergen 15:30 og startet jobb 17:00. Det var en hard dag som endte med en liten knekk i kroppen.

Forrige mandag var jeg endelig tilbake til Storbritannia hvor favorittpersonen min bor. På lørdag feiret vi 1,5 år sammen så vi tok oss en tur til byen jeg har lyst til å dra på utveksling til kommende våren (krysser fingrene!).

Jeg må bare si at Bath Spa er en av de fineste britiske byene jeg har utforsket så langt. Utrolig mye historie og kultur på en relativ liten plass.

Vi fikk bare tre dager i den flotte byen, men jeg tenker jeg kan nevne de beste stedene å ta seg tid til å se.

Kultur

Første dagen brukte vi på å vandre rundt og besøkte det første offentlige museet i byen, The Holburne Museum. Verkene er samlinger fra Sir William Holburne og søsterne hans, over 4000 objekter fra diverse reiser. Veldig interessant og så mye vakkert å se på. Museet er også gratis, men du kan gi en liten donasjon om du ønsker.

I Bath Spa finner du en av Storbritannias største turistattraksjoner, The Roman Baths. Dette er et romersk bad som varmes opp av naturlige gasser som kommer fra 2700 – 4300 meter under bakken. Om du vil unngå en ufattelig lang kø kan du forhåndsbestille på hjemmesiden deres og gå rett inn, det koster £13.75 om du er student. Men jeg foreslår å skaffe “saver tickets” som gir tilgang til både The Roman Baths, Fashion Museum Bath og Victoria Art Gallery for £18.50. Uansett er prisene verdt det.

Uheldigvis for oss hadde vi allerede kjøpt kombinerte billetter for Fashion museum, No.1 Royal Crescent og museum of Bath architecture. No. 1 Royal Crescent gir en visning rundt i en av leilighetene som er konstruert for å vise hvordan de så ut sent på 1700-tallet. Rommene er fantastisk vakre og hvert rom har en guide som forteller hva rommet ble brukt til og diverse interessante fakta, turen tar rundt 30 min og jeg anbefaler å ta seg tid til det.

Fashion museum tok heller ikke så lang tid. Her vises forskjellige plagg og antrekk fra 1600-tallet til 2017, i tillegg til at man selv kan prøve noen antrekk.

Museum of Bath architecture var også en liten diamant som viser hvordan forskjellige store bygg i byen ble bygget. I midten av museet er Bath blitt satt opp i miniatyr, utrolig gøy å se hvor man har vært.

Mat

Skal du ut og spise har jeg tre steder å foreslå. Første stedet er Green Rocket Cafè. En helvegetarisk cafè med mange veganske retter. Maten smakte fantastisk, prisene var fair og stemningen var magisk og avslappet. Gleder meg til å bli fast kunde her om jeg kommer inn til våren.

Til middag den siste dagen spiste vi på Yak Yeti Yak, en nepalsk resturant. Her satt vi på puter på gulvet og fikk servert utrolig god mat. Definitivt en fin opplevelse utenom det vanlige. Yak Yeti Yak er også bare 2 minutter fra Green Rocket så det er lett å finne den ene om du har funnet den andre.

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Det siste måltidet i Bath ble frokost hos Quails Deli. Ikke så mange veganske alternativer, men masse vegetarisk. Liten og intim med god stemning.

Annet:

Min nye favoritt bokhandel. Glem Waterstone, besøk heller Topping & Company Booksellers. En stor, lokal bokhandel med både populære, nyere bøker og mindre populære diamanter. Stikk innom og få deg en gratis kopp kaffe eller te og nyt lukten av bøker.

Det var det. Jeg gleder meg virkelig til søknadene for utveksling åpner slik at jeg kan søke, for nå vil jeg bare tilbake og ta inn den vakre byen og at den har å by på.

Har du vært i Bath Spa før, eller har du andre fine byer å anbefale meg å ta turen innom på neste reise? 🙂