Has being at home with your family this Christmas made you realise you really miss animals when you’re at university? Before term starts, blogger Iona looks at some ideas to get some time with them this term time.
When I came to visit my future to-be fourth year house, I was met by a little slim, beautifully patterned cat, whom I now know to be called Rea.
“Oh yeah, I forgot to mention – are you okay with cats?” I was asked as I stepped into the door. Okay with cats I thought. This would have been the selling point to any house. As a long term animal lover the idea of having a pet around during term time left a rose tinted view of the house. I signed the contract and told anyone willing to listen about my new flat mate.
“She loves to sit on the fridge most days! But going out the door can be a nightmare” I mutter “She comes sprinting out and I have to then usher her back into the house” I say rolling my eyes as I get a funny look from listening friends “ohh – my flatmate as in the cat!” I explain imagining how strange the story must sound if I was indeed referring to another person.
Saying hello to the cat upon entering the door is normally commenced with more enthusiasm and affection than to any other being in the household. Heating temperature, open windows, music levels are all monitored around what Rea would like – guest access too – if she doesn’t like you, you aren’t welcome. Sometimes, often when the day is cram packed and there’s a bus to be caught, she will sit on your lap, purring and nuzzling and of course the bus will have to wait until the cat decides patting time is over. Rea is well loved in our house, she is definitely the boss of the house! Even the non-cat lovers say how friendly she is and can’t help but take to her.
I knew I’d missed the presence of an animal during my previous years at the uni, but I hadn’t realised how much until I was back living with a pet in the home. The presence of another being as the winter nights draw in, during dinner times or cold mornings, is unmatched. The affection and interaction from the little mischievous ball of fluff each day makes me happy, makes me stop and enjoy simple moments and instantly offers a serotonin boost. Somehow cleaning up carboard pieces that the cat has distributed around the kitchen floor is ‘cute’, wiping up wee in the shower is ‘funny’ and knocked over cups are ‘just Rea’. Somehow everything feels okay when there’s a cat at the heart of it.
So I thought I’d share a few ideas to have sometime with animals while at uni for those like myself who have to leave behind their pets reluctantly each term.
Don’t just get a pet!
Whilst we love our furry friends here at the Library, we cannot advocate you getting a pet. The vast majority of landlords for rented accommodation will not allow pets, and you are not allowed pets in campus accommodation. I’m lucky to have a pet in my student house, but you cannot just get one yourself!
There’s different types of volunteering opportunities to do with animals around the uni including the RSPCA in Coventry or if you just want to help a local walk their dog it is worth taking a look on ‘Borrow my doggy’. On the app you can pair up with an owner and arrange times that suit you both to take the dog for a walk.
Get a pet sitting job
There’s opportunity to earn a little money for your time with animals through apps such as Rover, Wag! And Trusted House sitters. This gives the opportunity to work with a wide range of pets however there may be less opportunity to build up a relationship with a specific animal.
The uni itself offers some animal opportunities such as Warwick Library’s ‘Study Happy’ team who bring in therapy dogs normally once a term. This is a really worth while event to go to as a quick break from the stress of work.
Facetime your pet at home
Okay so maybe they won’t have a great idea of what’s going on but it can be reassuring to see a friendly face even if they do ignore the camera the whole time!
Finally, both the uni, Leamington and Coventry all have big open space areas or parks where there are an array of different animals just to watch as they get on with their everyday tasks. It may not be direct animal contact but this can be a really good way to take a moment out of the rush and just rest.
If you’d like to read more about your wellbeing during your PhD, take a look at our blog Take a Break or have a read of Adding Pauses to your PhD.
Are you lucky to have some animal time at uni, or are you craving it? If you have any other ideas of how to spend some time with four-legged friends then let us know! You can tweet us @researchex, send us a message on Instagram @warwicklibrary or drop us an email at email@example.com