Pyjamas, Chocolate Bars And All Night Library Sessions: MyDaily's Dissertation Days

30/07/2014 17:12 | Updated 22 May 2015

As final year university students will know now is that time of year when the dissertation writing is well under way. Team MyDaily remembers writing 10 - 12,000 words and how they got through it...


MyDaily's Deputy Editor Kate, 26, says: Writing my dissertation taught me two things - that Paris in the 1920s was the coolest place on earth and that Facebook is particularly addictive during the final year of university.

When I arrived at home for the Easter holidays, I was prepared for four weeks of research, writing and revision. I had a plan, post-it notes and 15 library books on Ernest Hemingway in tow, and I remember feeling all smug and grown-up about the whole thing. Compared to my sister, who was studying for her first year exams at the time, I had serious, degree grade-deciding work to do, but that optimism didn't exactly last long.

10,000 words on Hemingway's portrayal of women? Not as easy as I thought, particularly after I found out that the majority of his female characters are annoyingly feeble.

On the plus side, writing a dissertation was a great excuse to stay in my pyjamas all day and it was amazing how Easter eggs made such a good substitute for a proper lunch. While the final slog of editing all those sentences down to meet the word count was definitely the most painful part of the process, there was also something incredibility satisfying about finishing such a time-consuming project. Anyone who finishes writing their dissertation should definitely feel smug and grown-up by the end of it, not to mention sleep deprived.

girl eating chocolate

MyDaily Celebrity Writer Ellen, 23, says: The mere mention of the word "dissertation" still has me breaking out in a cold sweat. Unlike the rest of the MyDaily crew I didn't do, sorry read a traditional subject. Media Practice and Theory was my subject of choice - a course half practical and half er, theory.

My final year was spent planning, filming and editing a documentary film. I also had a 12,000-word thesis to write too, but I may have let practical take priority (even though both the film and the essay were equally weighted)... a choice which resulted in a 10-day stint in our 24-hour library fuelled solely by Red Bull, Pro Plus and Nick Nacks.

I was incapable of studying in my room as I would literally find ANYTHING to do besides actual work. I'd find myself thinking, "when was the last time I cleaned the fridge?". What a nightmare. So I consigned myself to the book-ridden labyrinth that was our campus library. BUT the lib, as we so coolly referred to it, came with its own problems.

There were people in there. People who'd left their dissertation to the last minute too. People eating loudly. People breathing loudly. People talking loudly (even in the silent section). Even when I put my headphones in I could still see them balancing pencils on their top lip, taking naps at their desk and being generally distracting. The worst type of people were the first and second years. Why the HECK were they in the library when us third years had the most important essay of our lives to write?

At this point in my life I also smoked (sorry mum). My three-a-day habit soon spiralled into a full-blown 20-ciggies-on-the-steps-of-the-library-EVERY-day addiction. Good times. But, surprisingly, if I could go back I probably wouldn't do it any differently.


MyDaily Style Writer Daisy, 25, says: Oh those dissertation days: the months of preparation, formulating the perfect thesis, sifting through dusty editions of Punch magazine in the British Library - such an idyllic time. No really.

Yes, I was ALL about the dissertation. I ruddy loved Victorian popular fiction and as for reading endless chapters on sexual transgression and gender - loved it.

Not only did I want to live in the 19th century (as a Victorian feminist) but I wanted to be Ouida (Louise de la Ramee). I was also in love with my dissertation lecturer, in a you-are-a-total-heroine, adoring, adopt me kind of way. She was tall, dark, mysterious and only bought flowers that her favourite novelists would have approved of.

With regular tutorials - I never missed a meeting - I was completely enthralled by my dissertation, determined to do well and become a published author, a real woman in the arts, immediately.

Sure the 24-hour slogs in the library (yes really) with my all-girl English Lit troupe were taxing. There were tears, actual sprints for the printer (I didn't have one, hell I'd only just got a laptop in my third year), unforgivable hair and /non-existent make-up and near melt down moments after losing work, my mind or a VIP post-it note. I was that emotionally strung out.

Luckily, I was fuelled by Wham bars, Mini Cheddars and very questionable coffee from the library vending machine. On a bad day it was dry Shreddies by the box load. There were few days when I was not wearing some kind of pyjama item - tops, bottoms, slippers - which was ironic because I barely slept. Would I go back and do it all again? Oh absolutely. Just don't tell my mum - she may not vouch for my complete composure, or her own.



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