Emerging from the Undergraduate Haze

Last Monday, I finished my last undergraduate exam walked out into the tight embrace of my friends. We were, in short, ecstatic. Although the exam had a few nasty questions, we were so overwhelmed with relief and excitement we didn’t even care. What was done was done, and we couldn’t do anything about it, so why worry about something you can’t change? Carelessly, we skipped off to get the largest and most disgustingly calorific hot chocolate Curiositea had to offer. And, man, it tasted good.

The past week has been somewhat of a blur; I moved out of my student accommodation, single-handedly cleaned the house top-to-toe and waved goodbye to living alone. At least for the time being – I have moved home, however it’s not all fun and games. We’re moving house and, although we’ve only lived here seven years, I’ve been through university and a year abroad, so the amount of ‘stuff’ I have accumulated can’t be underestimated. Receipts from 2010, a birthday card for my 18th and space food have all been unearthed, as well as every event ticket I have bought over the past seven years – enough to fill a shoebox. I also uncovered a receipt for an ex-boyfriend’s deposit on his student accommodation for 2011/12. WHY DO I EVEN HAVE THAT?

It’s also been a tumultuous week in emotional terms and, as such, I’ve identified the six signs you’ve finished your degree;

PEACE/HAVING SIGNIFICANTLY LESS TO DO – Currently toeing the line between enjoyable and unsettling. I’m always on the move, always got something to do, always with a full diary. My summer is dotted with a lovely few events – a birthday here, work experience there – but for the most part, it’s looking a bit quiet. It’s down to the point where I am taking my time clearing out my room because, really, what else am I going to do with my time? Have fun? Please, I’m too exhausted. Last night I was up until 2am reading a book FOR PLEASURE. I can’t remember the last time I did that. It was GUILT-FREE BLISS (The book was ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ by Maria Semple and it’s pure genius.)

EXHAUSTION – The crux of the problem. Once you’ve emerged from the mayhem of the past four years – all-nighters spent staring, bleary-eyed, at take-home papers; days and nights in sunny parks, drinking Pimm’s and making summer plans; eating home-made cake in seminars because our tutor made us bring goodies – it all seems a little quiet. The lag between that final exam and whatever post-grad plans you have can be excruciating. Take up a hobby – like clearing out all the junk you’ve collected over the past seven years!

LOSING INTEREST IN ANYTHING TO DO WITH MY DEGREE – The good news is I’ve made my peace with my degree – I found myself in a comfortable enough position not to worry about my exams too much, my classification is pretty much confirmed (she says, quietly rocking back and forth hoping results in a fortnight won’t prove her tragically over-confident). I’m fairly certain I’m going to meet the conditions of my MA offer, so the excitement that dominates September in my diary hopefully won’t be misplaced.

Graduation

LOSING FRIENDS AND BECOMING A LONER (AGAIN) – The realisation that I’m going to have to work much harder to see my university friends hasn’t quite sunk in yet – we’re reuniting at the graduation ball next week, then a couple of us have some plans before graduation in July, after which we have one or two more plans, but nothing much else. Seductive Warwick has such appeal that students from all over the country have been enticed to its Coventry – a bet I would have lost – and my nearest university friend will be a 90-minute drive away. I do know that the ones who really matter will stay in touch and we’ll overcome these substantial distances.

GOING CRAZY OVER (LACK OF) POST-GRAD PLANS – The biggest relief, upon completing my degree and moving back home, is that I don’t wake up with a start every night at 2am, sweat trickling down my back, paralysed with the fear that I don’t have direction in my life. I have a MA course that will lead to a job and career that I’m already passionate about. There are many who don’t have the security of an MA or a graduate scheme/job come September – some will be perfectly happy with this, looking forward to spontaneously carving out the next few years of their life. Others will be consumed by the 2am-fear and I’m just glad I’m not one of them.

BLISSFUL RETROSPECT AND BLINDING OPTIMISM – Looking back, I’ve had the most inspirational four years of my life, done things I never thought I would do and have learnt more about the world and myself than I ever thought possible. But looking forward, things seems somewhat brighter – more exciting, more eye-widening and far more difficult. According to many, the easiest and best years of my life are over, but I believe the most  rewarding and enthralling ones are yet to come.

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