As July rolls around, students all over the UK are graduating. It's a wonderful time. All that hard work is paying off and now it's on to the next chapter.
Everyone has a different approach to student life. Some people really enjoy being a student. Some people just want to graduate and move on with their degree. We're told that being a student at university is going to be the "best" time of our life and that we're going to love the student experience. We spend several years studying, plunging head first into the world of academia, and along with that you find yourself on a rather strange and very personal adventure. I remember people telling me I'd miss being a student when my time was up. I thought they were wrong. Now I've graduated I realise that they were right. I do miss my life as a student. It wasn't as crazy in the way some others are, but it was good. Recently, as it will soon mark one year since my graduation ceremony, I've been thinking about those little things we start to miss once we've got our degree.
Here are some things I, and other students I know, have come to sorely miss:
- You now wander past costume shops and realise that events nowadays rarely require costumes for no good reason. You still have novelty items in your underwear drawer like a coconut bra and grass skirt from a party that were worn once and never again.
- At this post-graduate stage of your life having at least three bottle openers in any given handbag is seen as excessive rather than handy. People wonder if you have a problem whereas a year or so ago it just made you the helpful person at a party.
- You miss sitting in a lecture hall. There's something about the vibe of a big lecture hall that reminds you that you made it, you got into university, and therefore must have a shred of intelligence. The things discussed there make you feel alive, like yours is a young mind, fresh and ready for moulding.
- You'll find yourself reminiscing, scrolling through old Facebook photos of those wild nights out at the SU or that trip to Kavos that only you and your university friends know about. It's always worse if you've moved away from university. All those friends have suddenly scattered to the wind and you can't always just pop over to see them. I know the people are the things about university that I miss the most.
- You're envying students across the country who get to experience Freshers Fairs whilst managing to haul bags of free stuff. Oh God, the free stuff...
- When a few months ago you would have laughed in the face of anyone asking you if you were going to do a Masters degree, you're actually starting to consider it... you're even considering possible thesis titles during the day.
- You'll miss pretending to understand things in lectures. "Derrida? Sure, I have a great understanding and appreciation of his work..."
- You feel a pang of loss in your gut whenever you unexpectedly apply critical thinking to a film or book you're enjoying. One minute you're just sitting in the cinema and suddenly you're mentally conversing with Foucault, Simone De Beauvoir or Žižek and all you want to do is enjoy this silly rom com in peace.
- You're a grown up now. That means actually doing laundry and the dishes and not eating from paper plates or wearing the same jeans for two months in a row without washing them.
- You'll miss the shared sense of camaraderie felt in a past-midnight library session. You can see the stress in the eyes of your peers as you look around. You're all in the same boat. This brings a weird sense of sympathy. You'll miss sneaking in cans of energy drink to fuel you whilst you crack on with that final essay.
- You still use your student card to try to get discounts but now it comes with the dreaded moment of anxiety that occurs as you begin to pray they don't check the expiry date.
- You'll feel an immense sense of guilt as you slowly forget certain things you spent several lectures learning whilst still paying off the debt you accumulated for those lectures...
- Finally, possibly the saddest thing on this list, you can't use "because I'm a student" as an excuse to drink your weight, buy stodgy food from the reduced section for every meal or pull all nighters to do work admittedly at the last minute. The truth is you're not a student any more no matter how many times you try to whip your old, expired student card out to try and get discounts at the cinema or on the bus praying no one notices it's out of date.
Now here you are at the end of the journey trying to bridge the gap and move on to the next chapter of your life. The world is your oyster and your student years were part of the path that got you to where you are now. It's only right you look back on those times with some fondness from time to time. Also, if you miss all of the above too much, there's always time for a Master's degree.