Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Disorientated Graduate's Guide To Winter

The nights are dark, the days are cold and the high street is pushing Christmas like it's going out of fashion. It is, of course, winter, and this presents a new layer of problems for graduates. I am now in my third winter since graduating and feel I can now guide the average graduate through the terrifying world that is the coldest season and the surprising bright sides it can bring. No, really.

The Heating

There are not many times in this blog I'm going to write this, but when it comes to the heating: REJOICE! FOR YOU ARE NOT A STUDENT ANY MORE!

Like so many students, I lived in a houseshare. As energy companies are bastards, we couldn't afford to have the heating on all day. I lived in Scotland. As such, days at home involved waking up and having a very hot shower. When you were out of the shower, you put on your underwear. Then – and this is a knack I am proud of – you put on the wooly tights, then the vest, then the t-shirt and the pajama bottoms. After this came the thin jumper and then over that a hoodie. Add another pair of socks to the equation, and some slippers. Make a hot drink, and then sit in front of the computer with a blanket over your knees. Add a hot water bottle when appropriate.

That, you see, is SURVIVAL. Heating takes away money you can spend on important things, like vodka and cheese, and my student priorities were very clear indeed.

Living with your parents as a graduate is often pants, but it does mean that the heating is on during winter. Remember going home during Christmas, and sweating as you sat in your t-shirt? Well, it's like that ALL WINTER ROUND.

Moved out with people with a job? Possibly not at parent standards of heat, but I am currently sat in a flat with the heating on and it is the most beautiful thing in the world. Sure, we can only afford a few hours a day, but as we work roughly equal hours it means we can time the heating around it.

… and if you are unemployed and can't afford to put the heating on? Well, see my tips as a student for keeping warm. Let me tell you, they're cast-iron.

Time Off

Summer holidays are no more. Spring break is not for you. British laws and customs, however, mean that Christmas represents more of a chance for a little time off. Within reason, of course; many graduates work in businesses that do not shut over Christmas, or only shut for a day.

TIP: Many people do not celebrate Christmas which is all good. However, if you celebrate Christmas find someone that objects to Christmas. Not the type that just 'don't like it' but people who really, really hate Christmas. Jehovah's Witnesses are particularly handy for this, and frankly it's revenge for all of those times you get woken up by missionaries.

Okay, it's not the big amount of time off you had as a student, but at least you don't have to revise for Christmas and/or write a dissertation. Christmas dissertations are rubbish, although asking a drunk father to edit it on Christmas Eve is quite good fun. I don't think he even knew who Charles II was.

… and work

Winter can bring new opportunities for work, through an increase in seasonal labour. Sometimes this can lead to new longer-term opportunities, although I will be the first to admit that being a Christmas retail temp can be soul-destroying.

The weather, however, presents new and exciting challenges. If you are travelling by anything other than a transporter, prepare to add more time on to your journeys. Travelling by train? Buggared. Travelling my car? Buggared. Travelling by foot? Buggared. You will need to get out of bed earlier without a doubt, which is frankly pants.

And yes, it's dark ALL OF THE TIME. Wake up? Dark. Get out of the office? Dark. I cope with this by way of eating more cake and taking more baths, two of the pleasures of winter as far as I'm concerned.

Now wrap up warm and attack the winter! Or hibernate gently. Either way.

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