In second year here, we have 3 six-hour long practical lab sessions every fortnight. This sounds like a lot (and, admittedly during some of the slower experiments, it can feel like it too) but actually a lot of the time, it’s actually not too bad. Like because a lot of time is spent actually focussing on the work at hand, it’s really not too bad.
There’s one thing that is very important before a lab though: preparation.
Preparation is one of those things that you have a special lecture on at the start of the year. And you mean to pre-read for every lecture, and to do extra reading and all sorts of things like that. And maybe you’ll start the year by managing to stick to it. In my experience, only those lucky enough to be really focussed and motivated can maintain such good practises for the whole year.
But, as it’s phrased in our synthetic practical manual, you need to plan your whole day. In our 6 hours, we have to both complete an experiment, and complete a report, so organisation is key. It’s a great way to learn to organise your life.
One example of this is the ‘lab-day breakfast’, as me and my housemates have named it. Basically, because we’re in labs 10-4 on lab days, we don’t often get time to stop for lunch. This means full fry ups, porridge, yogurt, toast, and all manner of other things before starting our day properly. It’s amazing.