As I’m writing this, it’s been one year since I finished my last ever university exam. I remember the day so well – the importance of that moment wasn’t lost on me. I knew that this final push was the culmination of three long years of hard work, challenges and A LOT of different emotions. I knew that once I’d finished this one exam (two essays about the fight for women’s suffrage in the UK), I’d actually done it. I walked to my exam, sat in a really warm room, smashed out two essays… and then it was done.
I have to admit, it was very underwhelming. As I walked out with my friends, it felt really odd to know that that was it. I’d completed three years of University and it was done.
We all stood chatting, thinking about how we were going to celebrate that evening, and then said our goodbyes, knowing that we were either going to see each other that evening, or not until graduation day. As I walked home through the park, calling my boyfriend and an array of different family members to celebrate what was happening, I started to think about everything that was going to come next.
And now I’m one year on, I’ve been reflecting on my first year out of Uni a lot. I can say for sure that I didn’t expect a global pandemic, I mean, who did, but there’s also a lot of other things that I didn’t expect. So, I thought I’d put together a little list of the realities of life after University, one year on.
It’s true – you do remember those nights out making memories with your friends over the the nights you spent in the library studying.
So many people have experienced the classic “but what are you going to remember, staying in working or a night out with your friends?” attempt at convincing you to go out. And it’s true. Ever since I left Uni, any catch up with my friends has consisted of reminiscing on nights out and the times we spent together. And I have to admit, I remember very few of the many, many nights I did spend in the library or at the desk in my bedroom.
Your alcohol tolerance significantly drops.
I don’t know if this is just me and my friends or if it’s a more wide ranging experience, but ever since weekly, sometimes twice or three times weekly, nights out have stopped, when I do go out for a drink, I definitely can’t handle as much as I could before. Whereas a bottle of wine was a standard pre-drink for me at Uni, it now has me written off for a whole weekend. My liver definitely thanks me, but I dread the next time I meet up with my friends for a night out and we revert back to our old ways, forgetting we’re not 18 anymore.
You spend a good few months wanting to tell people about your Dissertation
It’s normal to want to talk about your dissertation for a while… you spent months writing it (unless you’re one of those people that did it in a week… and if you are, I have one question – HOW!?) and you should be proud of it. I got the traditional ‘diss pic’ and posted it on Instagram, but I still wanted to talk about what I’d written. The only thing is, once you’ve left Uni, people don’t tend to ask about it like they used to. Of course they don’t, because they’ve not been in that intense dissertation bubble for the last year!
Random pieces of Uni work pop into your head from time to time.
I’ll often be doing something completely unrelated to University, maybe driving to work or doing a food shop, and I’ll suddenly remember a point I made in an essay, a presentation I did or a fact from a seminar and I realise I have a lot of mismatched, random history knowledge and nothing to do with it. I guess this shows I learnt something… right?
You reaaaally miss student discounts.
Is it bad to say student discounts were one of the best bits of Uni? There were a lot of really great things, but those discounts were good, weren’t they… I often fill up my bag on ASOS and then have to remove a few bits as I forget I don’t get money off anymore. And I have to remind my student friends that I’m not a student anymore when we’re out to eat… and then watch them get their discounts whilst I begrudgingly pay full price.
You do feel a little lost sometimes.
I think this is a very normal feeling in the year or so after University. It’s very strange to move away from education after around 17 years, if that is what you choose to do. You have to find a new normal, a new routine and structure to your life which had previously always been done for you. It can be a bit weird, but you do eventually get the hang of it, or at least try your best to.
You do drift from some people…
When you leave Uni, it’s hard to imagine not having certain people in your life; your housemates, course friends, people you’ve known since freshers. But, just like school, you do drift from people. It can be sad, but I like to think of it as having certain people being such an important part of one stage of your life, and that’s amazing, but as you move into a new stage of life, you meet new people who become just as important. And you’ll always have those memories.
But, you also know you’ve made friends for life.
Of course, some people move through every stage of life with you. Coming out of University has made me realise who’s there for the long run; the people you can imagine being that at your wedding or celebrating your 30th, 40th, 60th birthday with. In my opinion, that’s the best thing to come out of University, which is perhaps the most important reflection of the past year.