University, Graduation and the shocking realisation you’re now an adult

So, the end is nigh. It’s that time of year again, when social media platforms are inundated with pictures of graduates wearing silly hats and Hogwarts-esque attire. (This will be me tomorrow-sorrynotsorry). I wonder however, when I see the jovial, carefree, happy faces, flinging their hats into the air, whether this reflects their time at University. For me, it will be a mixed bag of emotions.

There is no doubt that I made many friends at Uni, many of which I hope to keep in regular contact with, and tomorrow (Graduation) will sadly be the last time most of us will be together. Many people say that University is the start of a new beginning. The beginning of a career, new friendships, new relationships, maybe even the beginning of a new you! For me, and a few of my friends (to say the least) this is a fairy-tale that is unfortunately, still a fairy-tale. I enjoyed my time at University immensely, don’t get me wrong, but I wouldn’t say that I now feel empowered, prepared to enter the ‘real world’ of adulthood and responsibilities.

As most people are aware, going to University now comes at a rather hefty price of £9,000 a year for tuition alone. Of course, the majority will take out a student loan to cover this cost as most 18 year-olds fresh from college don’t have such money at their disposal! Although I know that you don’t start paying it back until you earn over a certain amount (£21,000, I think), it’s still a daunting sum to have hanging over your shoulders as you enter the working world. This is one of the main reasons I decided to stay at home for my studies, as moving away would mean even more to pay back at the end, which quite frankly, was a little too scary for me to comprehend. I wouldn’t say staying at home has affected my experience too much, as I still spent a lot of time away from the confines of my parents’ house. Many of my friends and my boyfriend have student houses in central Brighton, so I often stayed with them and got the best of both worlds-just without the extra cost! Indeed, I was very lucky I could do this. I have, however, still cooked, cleaned and payed my way, whilst holding down a small part-time job.

Of course, as a student I’ve had my fair share of house parties and nights out, which became less and less appealing as my time at University progressed (I’m such a granny). Suddenly the workload started to increase, and going out became an infrequent and often tiring treat that only occurred at the end of deadlines. Instead, TV series such as Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad became the new treat, nicely embedded between essay writing and copious amounts of reading!

There is no doubt that third year was the toughest of the three years, which is no shock! As a self-confessed perfectionist and someone who suffers from anxiety, there were times I thought I’d never see graduation, but of course, everyone gets there in the end! Admittedly, I had extra bad luck and got rather ill around my dissertation deadline, yet I still made it through (and with a First?!).

What comes as more of a shock is the amount of tears you may shed during your time as a student. If it’s not drunkenly crying when a Kebab shop informs you they have run out of chicken nuggets, it’ll be over something else; an essay, when you can’t find something on your memory stick, when your jeans no longer fit you after bingeing on chocolate and crisps for three years…the list goes on. The dissertation, however, was my undoing. I have never loved/hated, re-worked and been so emotionally involved with a piece of writing in my whole life-and probably won’t again, (unless I do another degree)! It becomes your baby, even if you hate a certain part of it, no-one else is allowed to. If they do…you’ve guessed it, you’ll probably cry. It seems like A LOT at the time, but you will almost certainly need to go over the word count, and you will eventually need to cut loads out! No matter how long it is and how much stress it causes you, you will always get it done, and when it is finished, it is likely to signal the end of your time at University-and THAT, is the scariest, most stressful and most exciting part!

University is certainly not for everyone. I have known many who have dropped out or who simply gave up and consequently put in minimal effort! It is a challenge, but no-one ever said University was meant to be easy! I worked hard to get my First, and I aim to continue working hard with whatever I choose to do. I’m a great believer in ‘you get out of life what you put into it,’ and in the majority of circumstances, at least in my experience, this is certainly true.

Ahead of Graduation, I’m a nervous, excited and confused bundle of uncertainty. It marks the end of an amazing, nerve-wracking, stressful, rewarding and emotional three years, and I wouldn’t change it for the world (grab the sick bag). I’m not 100% sure what my next move will be and I’m still in the process of working that out, but I have a few ideas. For now though, I’m okay with that. Like University, it’ll turn out okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

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