Reading Week at university has always seemed to be a bit of a misnomer to me, given that I’ve not been massively aware of any students doing any actual additional reading during Reading week. Perhaps it should just be called “Doing F**k All Week” or “Half Term,” because that seems to be how most students interpret what they should be doing in it. Quite a lot of places now call it “Professional Development Week.” Haven’t seen much of that going on either. Reading Week to me means a week at the Hay Festival where people actually read.
Clearly what you’re meant to be doing in that week can mean different things depending not only on the university and also on the students. If the entire floor of fellow students decide to go home, what is one supposed to do but follow suit? For the conscientious ones, it’s a chance to catch up on some in-depth reading without the intrusion of lectures and seminars. For others, it’s a chance to come home, catch up on “Friends” (the TV series) and with friends (the actual ones), on some much needed sleep, home cooking, the pets unconditional love and with any luck their parents on the last day when they are feeling a little guilty that everything else took precedence. Hooray for the Sunday lunch option.
I don’t think it’s a particularly bad thing not to get much work done in Reading Week, especially for those students who are feeling a little unsettled and possibly a bit homesick because they’re only into the first few months of university life. With luck, what happens is that after a big fat injection of home life and some TLC, they start to feel that they might not actually mind going back again, laden with food from the fridge and hopefully might even be looking forward to getting back to their single beds in halls and hanging out with some of their new friends (and of course getting some work done).