I have never really got into student life. Despite the fact that I hate summer, I love the holiday aspect of it. This is not because I am a lazy bum, because in my opinion I have actually been quite busy this summer. And the busiest bit (two weeks in Cumbernauld) was the bit I enjoyed the most.
Ever since I started at university I have noticed a pattern. The first Christmas after starting university felt amazing. I couldn’t work out why, but I just went along with it. After all, you oughtn’t worry about feeling good. Then, between Christmas and New Year it hit me again: I realised that I would have to go back to university in a couple of weeks.
Since then, every university holiday has felt the same. It’s not just having time off. Like I said, I am just as busy when I am away from university, just doing different stuff. But just not having to be there is such a weight off my mind. I must really hate university.
At this time of year a lot of people ask me if I’m looking forward to going back to university. The answer, “Actually, I’m dreading it,” is mostly met with confusion. It’s a bit like the “how are you” conversations. You’re not actually allowed to say what you actually feel about university. Student life is meant to be amazing — the best years of your life. I have spent them depressively gazing at my feet.
Student life is way overrated if you ask me. Maybe part of it is down to the fact that I still live at home, so I don’t get to sample much in the way of student life. I don’t get the fun bits. I just get the work. Plus three hours of commuting hell every single day. I don’t get to do all the cool things students do, whatever they are.
But even if I lived in Edinburgh I doubt I would be into it much. Student culture is probably one of the biggest stains on humanity. When it doesn’t involve getting horrendously drunk for the most tenuous of reasons, it seems to be about “ironically” watching Neighbours, “ironically” saying “retrooo” at anything that is vaguely more old-fashioned than an iPod Touch and “ironically” being a total and utter twat.
Plus, for a section of society that is meant to be well-educated and open minded, students are an incredibly reactionary bunch. You meet extremists of all sorts — right- as well as left-wing. I find myself wandering around going, “Where are all the reasonable people?” I can’t remember the last time I heard a student say, “On the one hand… On the other hand.” [Insert obligatory dig at excessive bansturbators People & Planet here.]
All-in-all, it is enough to make me want to “ironically” reach for the nearest gun and “ironically” shoot myself so that I could go to “ironic” hell, because that might be a little bit more pleasant than a university campus.
This year, the dread came a bit earlier than previous years. It came over me like a massive black cloud on a visit to Edinburgh a month or so back. I used to quite like Edinburgh, but now it just reminds me of university dread. On top of all of the usual stuff, I have to contend with a couple of factors that are making me more scared of this year than usual.
First there is the dissertation. Because of my unexpectedly busy summer, I have not done as much preparation over the summer as I would have liked. The deadline is March, but still. I have not come much further forward since April. And next week I have to meet my Director of Studies who is the same person as my Dissertation Supervisor. Meep.
Then there is the fact that I have still not worked out what the hell I am going to do once I have finished university. Given that this is my final year, I had better think of something quickly.
The thing about careers is, you really need to have a good idea of what you want to do from a young age. If you haven’t worked it out by the time you’re about 15, I reckon you are screwed (like me). I used to say to people, “It’s a bit worrying, I don’t know what I’m going to do once I leave education.” Invariably people said, “It doesn’t matter. Nobody really knows what they want to do. You still have plenty of time to think of something.”
This is bullcrap. I found this out the hard way by actually believing it. The thing is, the advice stays like that until you reach the age of about 20. At which point the general advice becomes, “Well you should have decided before then, shouldn’t you!” True, but unhelpful. And then you are stuck with it, all set for a life spent wandering around like a headless chicken.
So given that I have to think up a profession quick-smart, I am going to have to attend every Careers Service event under the sun this year. To have this on top of the dissertation, I have a feeling it’s going to be a pretty tough year.