As we prepare to embark on our third and final year of university, I wonder, has our three year stint in the UoN bubble been all it was cracked up to be? Are we any closer to knowing what we want to do ‘when we grow up’? And have any of our university experiences been as unique and personal as we think?
Those of us who are now entering into our final year of university were the first lucky bunch to make the transition from school to the ‘real world’ at triple the cost of those a year before us, but has this rite of passage been worth every extra penny?
When I look back at the person I was when my parents dropped me off at Broadgate Park on a hideously rainy day in September 2012, not quite knowing what to expect but undeniably excited for whatever was ahead of me on this uncertain road, I would not say that I now don’t recognise that person, but I do feel much older and possibly the tiniest bit wiser (although the latter is debatable). I would happily suggest that yes, I have evolved into something resembling the person I’d expected to be two years down the line. And this is certainly not something I would have achieved without the learning I have accomplished both inside and outside the elderly walls of the LASS building.
The second thing I learnt was that university life really is what you decide to make of it.
The sort of lessons I have learnt whilst at uni have varied a considerable amount. Indeed, the very first thing I learnt after watching my parents drive away back down the M40, in a decidedly emptier car, was what a Juniper, the name of my block in Broadgate Park, actually was (an entirely unremarkable bush); whereas the second thing I learnt was that university life really is what you decide to make of it. And I, as I’m sure most of us did, decided to try and make the absolute best of it.
Having said that, I am still unsure of what to say when people ask me that classic question; “oh you’re entering your final year, what do you want to do after?” I have started to somewhat dread these fateful words as my usual response of “travel for as long as I can possibly manage” does not seem to satisfy many of the enquirers who’s subsequent response is often something along the lines of “ahh”. Still, this has not swayed my resolve to see as much as the world as I can before I have to settle down with a ‘real job’. I do hope, however, that my university years and the ways in which I have used them have sufficiently prepared me for that eventual settling down when the time comes, and I don’t just mean how good I look on paper.
Although I have not by any means taken the tact of using my three years purely to create a perfect job candidate on paper, it has dawned on me recently that it is important to remember that the job market is seriously competitive now so looking especially good on paper may be the unfortunate necessity which will get your foot in the door. However, I am going to make the highly controversial and ground breaking suggestion that, whilst this is important, uni may also be about having fun too. Which I am sure is a mantra that most of us have been living by.
We may be tempted to think, however, that all of our highs and lows, our crazy new experiences and borderline dangerous adventures are uniquely personal and that we are the very first to delve into the wonderful world of university in this way. When it comes down to it though, it seems that most of us have actually been sick in the toilets of Ocean, the majority of us have been shoved by some twat in Rock City, almost all of us have had a post-night-out snack from Dino’s and have any of us not had a ridiculous night at Stealth?
Apparently a lot of us did, in fact, have a phantom flat mate in the first year, and it wasn’t just my block that had to get up at ridiculous times because some idiot managed to burn their toast and set the fire alarm off (again)… and did anyone not get a noise complaint at least once?
Could it be that we all live different versions of the same unscripted sitcom called ‘University’?
Could it be that we all live different versions of the same unscripted sitcom called ‘University’? Have we all simply gone through the motions, ticking vital life experiences and lessons learned off of our imaginary check list written in our brand new pukka pad bought from the SU at double the price than could be found from a shop just down the road? It is possible and entirely probable. In some ways though, I think this is the essence of ‘the university experience’ – a journey shared, not only with our fellow classmates, but also with those who travelled along this bizarre road, chanting as they went, long before us, and those who will certainly stagger along it behind us, holding an apple VK in one hand and a tequila shot in the other for many years to come.