I have now, after what feels like the longest three years of my life, finished University. Three years of tears, meltdowns, weight-gain and general life-expectancy-decreasing stress, and I am free as a bird. If you too have reached the end of your academic careers, I hope you are sleeping well knowing that Harvard referencing and 14-hour library stints are now over, forever.
If you're still in the midst of exam season, well, I'm sorry, but some of us have served our time and enjoying the new-found freedom from our BSc's.
I'm not quite sure what I expected after submitting my final essay to Turnitin, perhaps an explosion of party poppers and Beyoncé's 7/11 to start playing in the background. Unfortunately, this (shockingly) didn't happen, but I did experience a sense of calm, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It was a strange feeling, like spending 3 hours cooking a lasagne from scratch, and waiting for your boyfriend to come home to confirm whether the ratio of béchamel sauce to pasta is right, or whether it's time to order a Chinese. For a lot of people, University was an amazing experience, but if you've read my posts before you might be aware it's been an uphill struggle for me, so I'm quite relieved it's all over.
Anyway, in recent months I had noticed that everyone I know seems to be going on holiday. This is not an exaggeration, I am not being dramatic, there is no hyperbole. Every person on my Instagram feed appears to be traveling to Thailand for a month, off for two weeks in Marbella, or going to Australia for summer. Some of them have begun their travels, and some are still uploading #PreIbizaGym selfies.
Well then, I thought to myself, if everyone else is off then I don't want to be stuck here for Britain's 'summer'.
A few days after my final essay was due, I sat down at my computer and opened Expedia on the premise of booking a nice summer break. Nothing too fancy, just a long week in the sun with a hundred vodka lemon limes and a 34°C beach to lay on. If you didn't already know, I work part-time in Sainsbury's, and compared to the average 21-year-old I think I am quite sensible with money, excluding the odd ASOS splurge. I have worked a fair number of hours this year and managed to save a little for a rainy day, or rainy 4 months. This is not meant to sound bragging, I'm just saying I try to be good so that in return good things happen to me, such as a 1st in my degree and a 100k p/a job to appear in my email inbox.
However, after a few hours on TravelRepublic, Booking.com and TravelSupermarket, I realised I must have been a mass murderer in a past life. How are my fellow students booking city breaks to Venice and three-weeks in Dubai, when a weekend in Devon is the top end of my budget. If cheap holidays are out there, either I can't find them or they're all gone and Expedia are trying to rob me in broad daylight.
Hold on one moment, I thought to myself, how is everyone else affording these summer breaks, while I'm stuck in Birmingham working 6 shifts a week? I've done my time, I've written my essays and read my journal articles, why can't I have fun like everyone else?
However, despite my realisation that Morocco may need to be crossed off the list, this post is not just about the extortionate cost of holidays. They say the grass isn't always greener, and a few months ago I thought life would take off once my degree was over...this has not yet been the case. I may be finished studying, but I am still searching for that perfect graduate job and working near-full time at Sainsbury's and so are a lot of others.
I began to feel very disheartened at the thought of everyone else swanning off and having the time of their lives once University was finished, but in reality, most undergraduates I know are probably in the same situation. If you've already started your career then congratulations, and if you're living back at home with no clue what to do next, then don't worry.
While University provides you with your degree, it doesn't necessarily set you up to begin your next chapter, whether this is work, further study or moving abroad. It takes time to get yourself on the graduate career path, ask any student in the country and they will confirm, so while life might feel boring right now, the next stage (hopefully) isn't too far off.