As third year somehow ends its second semester, I'm reflective. The general panic at the thought of graduation has subsided, replaced by a slightly more calming "I'm ready" feeling, but it's still a Harry Potter-sized chapter to close the book on. Here are the top things I've learned at university:
1. Pasta sauce was only the beginning.
Dishes like pasta, stir-fries and curries might seem easy as pie (desperate attempt at a pun) now, but I vaguely remember my mum teaching me how to make a tomato pasta sauce before I moved away to study. Somewhere along the way, I learnt to experiment with ingredients, herbs and sauces, and now run a cooking blog to experiment on.
2. Emptying the bins is always going to be disgusting.
Although the cleaners who visited us once a week left little room for us to clean, moving into a house in second year and dealing with messy housemates, emptying the bins and cleaning the bathroom was sobering affair. Add that to bills and rent, and I had been given a strong dose of reality.
3. It's hard to find people you 'click' with - and that's a good thing.
I met a multitude of people at university who I experienced some amazing times with, but it's only a certain few that get you. As you get to know yourself, your standards with your close friends gets higher, which is only a good thing. It's a common truth at university that you only really narrow down your friendship group in second and third year, and I couldn't be happier with the ones that are left.
4. I am still as bad with money as I was three years ago.
Living on the student budget might have taught me how to be frugal with money, but when I look back there is no evidence of me implementing those lessons. I still went shopping, I bought more takeaways in the last three years than I did in the 18 years prior, and I somehow still managed to pay bills. And, somehow, instead of feeling ashamed at my binge spending, I'm actually quite proud.
5. No matter how many times you try, tequila will never be your friend.
I've drunk my way through three years of study, and have plenty of photos, new clothes and memories to prove it. Now I'm nearing heading into the real world where it's not acceptable to drink a £3 bottle of wine from Co-Op for pre-drinks, I'm actually quite looking forward to getting my liver back into a healthy state.
6. Law, law and more law...
At the risk of sounding like a bore, although my degree was at times painfully dull (Land and Trust law, I'm looking at you), it taught me some valuable gems of information for later life: if you don't want to end up homeless after a messy divorce, get your name on the deed. Being a housewife won't cut it. Also - if you want to practice sadomasochism, do it with your husband or wife; it won't count as GBH. See, like I said, valuable.
7. How to make fancy dress out of nothing.
White T-shirts, safety pins, felt tips and a Robin Hood hat that often masqueraded as Peter Pan or a pirate are some of my favourite fancy dress tools. That's got to show innovation to any potential employers, surely?
8. I'm actually quite independent.
It might not have felt like it at the time, but somehow I've survived these three years. I'm on course to get a good degree, I live in a nice house with some great housemates and I've had to make plenty of appointments/angry phone calls/awkward meetings without the help of my mum. I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point I grew up.
9. These were the three best years of my life.
Bit of cliché, so I'll keep it short. Through some amazing friends, hilarious moments and hundreds of photos lining my walls, I don't regret one second of my experience, and I wouldn't go back to change it. There we go, done.
10. "UEA is wonderful..."
You can insert your own university here, but I didn't regret my decision to study at UEA for one second, whether I was siting in the square in the sun, wheeling a wheelbarrow in the rain for Pimp my Barrow, at Colney Lane for Derby Day, chanting UEA is wonderful at pre-drinks or simply sitting in lectures. A great university I'm very proud to be a part of.