Ahhhhhh. That’s the long drawn-out sigh of me coming to the realisation that now September is coming to a close a new set of freshers are currently embarking on the wonderful rollercoaster that is starting university life.
It has now been 3 years since I also made this transition from the mollycoddled security of sixth form and my parents’ home to become a newly independent, little fresher (and I use that term literally, for me Freshers’ 14 was unfortunately no myth). This September, however, for the first time I am not returning to formal education as the perpetual student status I held for 17 years will officially be redundant.
September has always been more of my ‘new year’ than January ever has.
Quite frankly, it’s terrifying. No schedule. No one instructing you on what to do and when it needs to be done by. I always moaned about returning to school as a child but I secretly relished in it: the promise of a fresh start, the intellectual progression of moving up a year, and most importantly the trip to WHSmiths to buy that shiny, new pencil case. Essentially, September has always been more of my ‘new year’ than January ever has.
The preparation for the sudden halt to the conveyor belt of education has been slowly introduced over the years. First it started with free periods in sixth form. Expectation: Heading up to the library and spending an afternoon being oh-so-studious. Reality: Lounging in the common room playing Shithead (a card game) and hiking up the road to Macdonalds. Then came the uni days. Spending a mere 12 hours on campus was certainly a welcome shock.
Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to live off instant noodles, order another round (or five) of sambucas or spend all day in bed as a student. As an adult not so much.
Luckily I do still have an outlet to pretend I’m a student. This weekend I got to go back to my uni town and spend time with my friends who are still studying. It was then that I realised it is the student lifestyle I miss the most. I miss the “it’s ok, I’m a student” approach to life. Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to live off instant noodles, order another round (or five) of sambucas or spend all day in bed as a student. As an adult not so much. Unfortunately there is no student loan payment coming every 4 months once you enter the big, bad world.
I even miss the library. Yes, the library. Something I never thought I’d feel, let alone admit. Those times were dark: the all-nighters, the overpriced cappucinos, the many breakdowns when my laptop died and I forgot to hit save. But some laughs were had there also, especially when procrastination was the goal. I suppose it’s like a break up; you hone in on the positives. A big chesire cat smile comes across my face when I recall the nights that ended in the best way, eating questionably cheap pizza while having a heart to heart with my nearest and dearest. Yet I don’t quite seem to reminisce how awful I felt the following day. I look back with affection at my last student house, somehow forgetting the occasional slug infestation and icy atmosphere on a winter morning.
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened”.
I heard a quote recently that struck a chord: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened”. What a brilliant way to view life. University was undoubtedly the best time of my life so far, but it was only one chapter and there are many more to come. I will always have the memories to look back on but now it’s time to create some new ones.
So a word to the wise for this year’s freshers: enjoy it. Every last minute of it because it really will be the best 3 years of your life and it will be gone before you know it.
Photo Credit: John Walker via Flickr.