X Close

DIS Student Blog


Department of Information Studies


Learning from Afar: Commuting to Study at UCL by Kat Steiner

By Anne Welsh, on 9 October 2014


I’ve just started my second year as a part-time Information Science student, and after seeing all the eager new faces in my first lecture, I feel like an old hand. I live in Oxford, working for the Bodleian Libraries, and travel one day a week to UCL for my classes. Although I’m a minority in the IS cohort, travelling from outside London, there are plenty of part-timers in the department, as the Library and Information Studies course offers a part-time option specifically allowing students to come one day a week. So I thought I’d write a few words about how commuting has worked for me.

When I started at UCL, I’d just finished a year’s traineeship with the Bodleian Law Library, but didn’t have any more work lined up. It was nice to have that flexibility in choosing my first year of modules (you sign up for the whole year in October, so some forward thinking is necessary). I chose the train over the Oxford Tube coach, for convenience and faster travel times. The trains have always been pretty reliable and it was nice to have an hour or so to work before and afterwards. The only real issue was the tube strikes in February.

I had a few different part-time jobs within the Bodleian, juggling them around my UCL days. It worked really well; I got some great experience in several different libraries and enough time to study. My managers have always been really supportive and interested in what I’m doing: Information Science is an unusual degree in Oxford, with most people doing the MA LIS. The travelling didn’t bother me unduly, although it was tiring, and I really liked the routine of knowing that my ‘UCL days’ were for studying. I actually found it harder working in the holidays on coursework, without the mental push of going to London.

This year, it’s a bit different, as I’ve got my first permanent, full-time job, which I’ve been in almost a month. I love the team, the library, the regular pay-check…but it does mean working Saturdays in term-time in lieu of one day a week at UCL. So far I really like the routine, and luckily my modules worked out nicely to fit on one day each term, although it did make choosing them a bit harder. After Easter I’m still going to have one weekday blocked out to work solidly on my dissertation, which I’m hoping will give me the kick I need to get it done! It’s quite common in Oxford for people to work full-time and study for their LIS masters at the same time, so I’m not too scared. But ask me again at the end of term, maybe!

Kat Steiner (@kastrel) is working as a Library Assistant at the Bodleian Libraries while studying for her MSc IS.

Image: Mattbuck, Copyright Commons Share Alike.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Kat Steiner is the sole author of this piece.

Leave a Reply