Post-Graduate Life: How to Survive in the ‘Real World’

Graduation: the checkpoint that marks the end of your time in the education system, the culmination of years of exams interspersed with binge drinking and three month holidays, and the beginning of your adult life. Some are lucky enough to have a job lined up, some will have already booked their first available flight to Australia; others, a one-way train ticket back to their hometown. Either way, your ‘Student’ label has now expired and, all of a sudden, you may find yourself stumbling confusedly along that murky and foreign wasteland between adolescence and adulthood. It can be a deeply daunting and disheartening place to be, with little in the way of direction to point you towards the right path.

One thing is certain, though; many of the habits that you picked up living in Student-Ville – cavorting happily with your fellow students in a bubble of joyful decrepitude – are woefully unnaceptable in the real world. It is time, dear graduate, to unlearn them. These habits all lurk somewhere along the Abstract Scale of Reasonable Adult Behaviour, with affecting variables such as how judgmental your cohabitants are and whether you have showered today. Such habits include – but are by no means limited to –

1) Eating unheated canned produce straight from the can, particularly of the meat variety. You thought you were saving time and money with your thirty eight pence can of gooey Spam. At best, you are a mildly repulsive human being. At worst, a serious hazard to your own health.

2) Turning the placing of objects in the bin into a longitudinal game of Jenga. All students participate in this game, willingly or not. Yes, it may take longer to balance with accurate precision your empty can of baked beans at the top of the tower than it would to just take the bin out, but that is not the point. This game is not received well in any abode that is not occupied by students. Begin this game with caution; your Mum might evict you.

3) Giving names to the vermon infesting your house and developing alarming feelings of affection for them (‘No, I just took the trap away and left the cheese out for Stu. He was looking so thin the last time I saw him, I’m a bit worried’).

4) Going to the corner shop in your bare feet and superman pyjamas for milk and vodka (known in classier circles as a White Russian). Your local corner shop owner may be used to seeing you in various states of undress and sobriety, but the school children from your hometown innocently buying their sweets in Tesco are most definitely not.

5) Celebrating getting up in time to attend your nine am lecture with a five hour afternoon nap. Students are experts at awarding fleeting bursts of motivation and productivity with prolonged bouts of laziness which they bizarrely convince themselves they have earned. Unfortunately, the world of paid employment does not work in the same way. Try not to fall asleep at your desk. Who invented the nine to five system anyway? Clearly some sort of robot who had never discovered the joyful elixir that is the Afternoon Nap.

6) Missing deadlines. There was always the option at University to opt for a night out instead of finishing your essay, and just suffer the mild consequence of a ten mark penalty. After all, ‘You can retake an essay, but you can’t retake a party!’, a (debatably) wise man once said. This segment of Uni life is entirely non-transferable to the real world. Taking responsibility and suffering the consequences becomes an actual thing.

7) Not budgeting. Ever. You lived like the King of Europe in the few days following the arrival of your student loan, and muddled through the rest of the month on a diet of super noodles, happy hour jaeger bombs, and food parcels from your Mum. When you start earning your own proper money, it instantly becomes more precious.

8) Being more excited for Halloween than you are for Christmas. Halloween is a celebration exclusively for those between the ages of four and ten, and then students. Outwith these brackets, donning your finest Spartan outfit and shading in your abs with an eyeliner pencil every 31st October just makes you (even more of) a creep.

9) Binge drinking. Learning how to enjoy an alcoholic tipple without ending up comatose in your neighbours hedge in a puddle of vomit is a necessary skill for a fully functioning adult. Playing minesweeper and suggesting you make a fish bowl at your aunt’s 60th birthday party is unlikely to go down well, and more likely to gain you concerned looks and attempted ‘interventions’ from concerned family members.

10) Wearing your Uni hoody out in public – proudly proclaming your status as the Social Sec of the Hockey Team – is no longer acceptable. It’s the equivalent of wearing your school leaver’s hoody when you get to University. You just look like a loser hankering after your glory days as a B-Noc.

Yes, shiny new graduate, your student days are officially over.   Don’t be too disheartened, though – you are likely about to enter a phase of your life which is more challenging, more daunting, and more exciting than what you are used to. Positively,  your personal hygiene and general health will likely improve significantly, and you will no longer be in peril of developing scurvy and or alcoholism.  Strangely, approximately one month after Graduation you will develop selective amnesia and avow that you hate all students and can’t believe that you ever were one.  You will vehemently argue that in your day, students were never as annoyingly boisterous as they are now, and that they also look much younger than you ever did.  You will secretly cringe at your more questionable drunken behaviour and thank your lucky stars that nobody documented your antics on Instagram.  In fact, you were nothing but a beacon of sophistication, wisdom and sound decisions throughout your student days, weren’t you?

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