Once again, I am writing a post under the blog name of ‘A Bristolian Abroad’, whilst having both feet firmly placed on British soil. I apologise for this misleading title.
Nonetheless, it is less than two months until my departure, and I have something to write about: this week the realisation has fully set in that I am leaving student life behind (along with the cheap cider, 32p baked beans and a chronic lack of sleep) to start a new life on the continent. In five days I will be wearing the classic cap and gown combo- which cost an absolute fortune to rent, by the way- and going up on stage to shake an important person’s hand and collect my degree. I am not a fan of clichés, but I can safely say that the past three years at the University of Sheffield have flown by, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I have matured (slightly), secured a first-class honours (by the skin of my teeth) and learnt a few life lessons which may assist me in the future.
Thus, as a sort of self-help manual addressed to myself, I have compiled a list of the things I have come to know during my time as a student.
Sixteen Life Lessons
- You have less money than you think you have
I have been slow to learn this over the past three years, and tend to live my life as though I am earning an above-average graduate salary. The fact remains that I am absolutely 100% not earning an above-average graduate salary. Also, it has taken me three years to realise that Soya lattes are not essential to daily life. Neither are ski holidays, racing bikes, or spontaneous trips abroad.
- Earplugs are life-changing and 110% essential to sanity
Living in a bedroom adjacent to a kitchen shared with seven other humans, life was hard. That was until I invested in Boots-own washable, squashable, fabulous ear plugs which cut out all noise, including kettles boiling at ungodly hours (i.e. before 9am).
- When the sun is shining, your work-load does not decrease
Just because it is decent weather, this does not mean your essay deadline has been pushed back until rain comes. Lying in the park all day will not help you.
- Facebook is the devil when trying to get almost any task done
I dread to think how many hours of my life have been wasted scrolling through meaningless, dull posts and clips of weird videos that I can sadly never un-see.
- ‘Everything is a social construct’ is not a helpful motto in life, and does not benefit personal sanity. Do not view the world in this way unless you are looking for a source of eternal torment
University taught me that everything is a social construct- from the political system, to our notion of what it means to be mentally sound. Though provoking, this line of thought can raise serious questions such as ‘what is the point in anything?’ Most things are not social constructs, but very, literally, physically real. A prime example of this: overdraft limits.
- Housemates do not like it if you dry your clothes in the kitchen, in front of where the saucepans are stored, for reasons relating to mobility, accessibility and general aesthetic
Nothing more to say on the matter really.
- Housemates do not like it if you eat their crumpets without asking beforehand
This was a repeated error. I kept falling into the same trap at 3am.
- Forcing yourself to try something new is (mostly) good thing
This one comes with obvious discretion.
- Running keeps you sane
A lap of Endcliffe park can solves all of life’s problems, even in the snow.
- It’s not about what you know, or who you know…
It’s about trying to make yourself sound mildly intelligent. If there’s anything I’ve learnt from academics, it’s that using pretentious words (that no one truly understands) can take you far in life, in both economic and intellectual terms.
- Schloer is the best mixer
Though relatively expensive, and embarrassing to purchase, Schloer has the capability to mask even the cheapest of supermarket spirits. 11/10.
- A steady diet of oats and rice is not sustainable for longer than four days- neither is pasta pesto, or beans on toast
This was a lesson I learnt fairly early on in first year. Spending money on decent food is life changing. I’m not sure I’d be here today if it hadn’t have been for duck and hoisin wraps, spinach and ricotta tortellini, and chocolate-chip cookies.
- Meeting new people is incredibly rewarding
Over three years of uni, I have met so many people that it is a second nature. I have made friends from around the world, which has numerous benefits (e.g. learning about other cultures & having a free place to stay on holidays).
- Friends are everything
I knew I had the same values as my closest course mates when we collectively chose to undertake our first year project on pubs in Sheffield. PUBS. Also- during a lecture when we were (genuinely) asked to debate (and later write an essay upon) the question ‘what is a map?’, I began to question my life-choices, but friends supplied an abundance of moral support. This support has been vital to the maintenance of my personal sanity. Also- living with my best friends has been incredible, even though the physical environment was quite often horrible. Pure comedy gold every day for three years.
- Look after your friends: when you invite pals home to meet family, make sure they don’t nearly drown
I won’t go into details but I will say that (brutally) forced apple bobbing can be traumatising for everyone involved. Avoid at all costs.
- … All good things must come to an end. And by the end, you will be both ready and excited to move on.
£45,000 of life-crippling debt later and that is what I have learnt…
Now with regards to an update on Spanish/Catalan language learning situation, I will say that progress is being made, at a remarkably slow pace. BUT at least I’m trying. Slow progress is better than none at all. Also, I have been in contact with teachers at my school and it’s all got a bit real and terrifying. AHHHH. This afternoon I will book my flights- it will be odd to not have a return flight booked…
On another note entirely, this blog was not intended to be political, but it’s impossible to avoid this topic at the moment in Britain, what with the labour party fluctuating in a state of complete turmoil, Theresa May becoming our prime minister, and BORIS JOHNSON becoming our FOREIGN SECRETARY (yes, you read that correctly). When I first saw this on social media I wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not, but BBC News confirmed the seemingly ridiculous rumours. This blonde-haired, Eton-educated, cycling-obsessed Ex-Mayor of London once claimed that women only go to university in order to find themselves a husband. There are so many things wrong with this statement- and indeed, many of his views- that it is not worth going into, or taking seriously. So, in order to stay lighthearted about the whole situation, I will finish the blog with a genuine quote from Boris himself:
“I think I was once given cocaine but I sneezed so it didn’t go up my nose. In fact, it may have been icing sugar.”- Boris Johnson
This man is our foreign secretary. Just have a moment to let that sink in.