Wednesday, 25 May 2011

the end of an era

Yesterday I submitted my final essay as part of my English Literature degree. Third year, and thus my course, is now over.

Perhaps it's because I'm knackered but I thought I'd feel, I don't know, different to how I do now that it's all over. I'll feel sad, obviously, when all my friends move out and back home (luckily I'm going to be away when this happens so I don't have to say goodbye to an empty house on Brownlow Street), but sad about the course being over? Not as much as I thought I'd be.

Ok, so obviously I am quite gutted that it's finished. I have loved my course. I love being a literature student. I love the fact that my education involved sitting around and reading Jack Kerouac. It's what I do in my spare time anyway, so why not get a degree in it? And as little as six weeks ago I was completely dreading this moment. But recently...I don't know. I've kind of realised that things just need to move on. And I've also realised how excited I am about my future.

All my life I have had this crippling phobia of time passing and growing up and getting old. To a certain degree, I still do. It's why I hate New Year's Eve and why I don't like talking about anything beyond two weeks from now. But that's shifted a bit now. Now I really want to just get stuck in. If you read this regularly then you'll know that in September I am starting my PGCE course to teach 7-11 year olds. Well at the moment I do work experience in a primary school and a few weeks ago I was there and it was like I had an epiphany. I was sat there with some kids - the class I'm in is the most epic group of children I've ever met - and I just thought, wow. This is perfect. This is genuinely what I want to do for the rest of my life. Teaching is...well, it's what I should be doing. I'm good at it. I love it. I almost started crying because it was such a revelatory moment. And ever since then I've been so excited about starting this new course in September instead of freaking out over my current one ending. They say that university is a time for growth and change, and if that isn't change then I don't know what is.

This idea of how we've changed over the course of university has come up a lot between my friends and I over the past couple of weeks. Thinking back on myself in 2008 and comparing it with myself now is quite an odd thing. I don't remember how I felt back then because as my feelings on life and love and people change, those new feelings just become me. I guess the biggest thing - and this is, I think, the case for most people when they go to university - is confidence. In first year I hardly spoke to anyone. I hated university. I hated the way the course was structured and I hated the modules they forced you to take and I hated being there when I could be getting drunk in Sheffield with my old college mates (which, incidentally, is how I spent most of my weekends). I loved college so much and I really wanted to go back to that, hanging out in the refectory with my pals, history classes with Alan was all good times. Uni was a massive shock for me, and because I stayed at home I was never forced into meeting anyone. So I just...didn't. Then towards the end of first year I started hanging out with Kristine, an American exchange student who I still miss very, very much. And then I met Stephanie Parkin. Our mutual love of Twilight (ahh, 2008) brought us together, and through her I met the people I spend most of my time with now. In second year, not only did I get to choose the modules I wanted to take - thus increasing the enjoyment factor by 3000% - I also now knew a couple of people in my classes. It is insane how much of a confidence boost that is. It's all very well being the elusive, silent figure in the background, but having someone you know there makes talking in seminars so much easier. Weird, I know. And especially this past year I've become...more free, I suppose. I've stopped considering how other people view me, stopped caring what anyone else might see or think about me and just enjoyed myself. I used to hate myself. Now, I'm really happy.

I think that's the biggest thing I've learned at university. How to be yourself. What a fucking cliche, I know, but it's true. There isn't much that I've studied over the past three years that I wasn't already aware of. As a course, English Literature doesn't exactly teach you. And maybe if I could start over again, I'd choose something different. History, or something with some real facts behind it. But there is no way that I'd miss the experience of going to university. And I stayed at home so I know there are people who think that I didn't 'have the real experience', but whatever. Staying at home meant that I had the money to go travelling last summer. I've been to six festivals, an innumerable amount of gigs and seen almost every single one of my favourite bands. I've been to London and met my favourite author. I went to Manchester and had my arm around Professor Brian Cox. I've had the best times of my life and there is no way I could have afforded that if I had moved out, so I don't regret that one bit. Well, maybe a little - I would quite like to have lived closer than an hours bus ride away from my uni.

I started writing this post to mark the end of my course and somehow it has turned into...I don't even know what this is. I think my point is, I'm happy. I've met some of the best people I have ever known and done things that I think about every single day and probably will for the rest of my life (malibu and coke, anyone?). I've completed a fucking degree man - that's a big deal. The end of this course is heartbreaking because I know I'm going to lose people. There are people who you just know you're never going to see again. It happened after high school, it happened after college. I think you just have to trust that the people who matter will stick around. But studying English Literature was just a self-indulgent thing. Now my real life is starting. Now I get to go on and do something that I have been working towards since I met Mrs Spencer, my Year 2 teacher, and realised that I wanted to be her. The future starts here. Let's crack on.


  1. wow. really well written. couldnt have said it any better. but it's true. no matter what people say, everyone feels the same when uni leaves. cnat help but feel it. such a big part of your life and consumes so much, that it does change you. well done. hope you get the result you deserve.


  3. Loved this post. I also found the end of my degree quite an anti-climax.. though I didn't really know what I wanted to do apart from get an internship with a charity (which I did). But yes, people and places are always so transient- I've met awesome people just in my current job that have left or they've been interns and are now back in a different country etc. So glad you've had your epiphany anyway, hope it all works out :) xx

  4. Love this post - I'm far from finishing my degree yet but I remember how I felt about high school and college ending; I was terrified of not seeing my close friends day in and out, didn't know what to do with my future and this really gruesome feeling of something huge coming to an end.

    The difference is - I loved university right from the start. Though I didn't have many friends, I got so wrapped up in my classes that it didn't matter.

    However, university only really became fun recently, when I got back from London. I really learned my lesson in self-confidence there and now I have to use it at work all of the time too.

    Also, I understand the epiphany-part so well. We should consider ourselves lucky because I have many friends who're stuck with a course they're not happy with or are done with university and have picked up jobs that pay well but ruin them mentally.


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