I’m at home in Sheffield, and I’m ill. Almost three years ago, I completed the marathon that was freshers and survived a 14 day endurance test which saw everyone around me fall victim to the dreaded freshers flu whilst I somehow managed to stay healthy. Over the past two weeks I did nine nights out on the trot, and I have what I titled Finalists Flu. My throat aches, I can’t smell anything and my head feels like someone stamped on my head. The reason for all the excessive partying is because I somehow managed to somehow complete my degree and I was celebrating my last nights out as a student. I have been unashamedly, blissfully, ridiculously drunk over the past nine or so days and have been firmly in the ”YOLO! End OF UNAAAAY!” mindset.
Of course, amongst the frivolity, bottles of Tesco own brand vodka and general hedonism there has been an element of sadness. The past week or so has been filled with goodbyes. Some goodbyes have been more ”See you later!” as there remains no doubt that we will keep in contact and visit one another, even though the physical distance between us has increased somewhat. However, some goodbyes have had a finality to them, as you silently recognise that apart from the occasional like on each other’s Facebook status for those big life events such as a new job, marriage or baby you are unlikely to have an online conversation again nevermind a physical one. It is at this point that you realise that whilst some university friendships will withstand the test of time, others are as fleeting as memories you have of the nights out during freshers week.
Then there is the realisation that unless you are going on to do a Postgraduate course or committing yourself to enlightening the minds of youths for the next forty years that education is over for you. Many of us will have spent university life whinging about deadlines and exams, which was primarily due to the fact that we left it all last minute as we spent the majority of our time procrastinating in a variety of ways. I always found I had the sudden urge to tidy my room when I had an impending deadline.Truth is that even though I celebrated my dissertation hand in with a decadent night out which I almost didn’t make it out to due to almost falling asleep on my friend’s bed after four cocktails, I will miss the fact that the most stressful time of my university life was the two weeks before the deadline and the rest was relatively chilled out (the perks of being an English student).
The thing is with university, even though you are there for your course. You realise that your course will be the least significant part of your university life. Yes, you need to do semi decently but a lot of it is about the uni experience. In first year it is the excessive number of nights out which you barely remember but which somehow form the basis for a lot of friendships. In second year, whilst the nights out still happen, although with a little less frequency you begin to look for new ways to spend your time which don’t involve a hangover. For me it was societies and The Epinal and then in third year joining the Welfare and Diversity committee alongside juggling various part time jobs. Nights out were still fun, but I got more enjoyment out of doing things I found more interesting and beneficial to my C.V. By third year, my degree was like an annoying fly that I kept trying to swat away whilst I did things that I found more interesting and beneficial to me.
Now my three years in Loughborough as a student have drawn to a close, I feel an inevitable sense of sadness as the chapter closes. However, there is a sense of excitement as this week I finalise the plans for my future for the next year which will see me either fund a Masters or do the graduate cliche of going travelling. This time next week I’ll be flying to Zambia where I’ll be doing various things such as going on a safari, visiting the Victoria falls and reflecting on the past three years before coming back just in time to wear my graduation gown and join the Loughborough alumini. Even though I’m sad I’m no longer a Loughborough student, I’ve decided to smile because it happened rather than cry because it’s over.