A Few Things I’ve Learnt Upon Finishing Second Year

I’ve just handed in my final essays for the second year of my English Literature degree at Newcastle University. The deadlines which had been hanging over my head for months are gone and now I can finally relax, although that will be short-lived as I’ve got a pretty hectic summer ahead of me. Two years of university has taught me a lot, from vital skills like how to deal with a hangover in lectures, to learning just how long energy companies think is acceptable to keep you on hold. However, aside from these highly important lessons, it’s also given me a sense of the bigger picture:

University goes by fast

And by fast, I mean the literal speed of light. It feels like only last month I was saying goodbye to all my sixth form friends, packing everything from home into the car and setting off to Newcastle. So much has happened since I moved into halls but even then, I still remember the panic of applying for university: personal statements, open days, results… I would not want to go back and do that all again. It was such an uncertain time because until you opened that envelope in August with your grades in it, you had no idea if you would be leaving home, and which part of the country you would even be living in.

First year feels like a blur now and I can’t believe that I only have a year left of my course. I did so much in those initial few months, let alone over these two years. If I’ve learnt one thing from this, it’s to make the most of university life because it feels like it’s over almost as soon as it starts. That sounds so depressing but it’s as a result of having so many new experiences crammed into such a short space of time. It’s true what they say – time flies by when you’re having fun! (I hate myself more than you do for typing that)

I stress – a lot – and for no real reason

My essay deadlines were mid-May, but I had full plans and first drafts done by the end of March. Bear in mind this was before we’d covered half the topics for the semester. I panic-plan, which means I stress myself out unnecessarily when most people are still recovering from January’s exams. This should mean that as the deadlines loom, I’m relaxed because I’ve got full essays to hand in but nope. I stared at these ones for hours, tweaking words, then sentences, then whole paragraphs, only to go into a complete meltdown that I shouldn’t even be doing my course. I am well-known for overthinking to the point where I am convinced my whole life will be a failure and the apocalypse is probably right around the corner.

Now is the time to work on your CV

It’s come to light that, as I am now two-thirds of the way through my degree, this time next year I will be expected to find an actual job. If that’s not injustice, I don’t know what is. With four months of summer ahead of me, this is most likely the last time I will be able to try something completely new without the pressure of long-term contracts or student loans to pay off (yet!). Whether you book a last minute flight and go backpacking, or find an internship in a field you hadn’t even considered as a career, the summer between your penultimate and your final year is the perfect opportunity to see what is out there for you after your degree. I applied for an internship in marketing and communications, something which is usually aimed at Business, Economics or Media students, but ended up being offered the only open position. Just goes to show that if you put yourself out there, there are so many ways you can boost your CV in time for next year when you’re dropped into the deep end of the real world.

Relationships change and that’s okay

Out of everyone I met in Freshers’ Week a year and a half ago, I only regularly talk to three or four of them. I was convinced by the end of first year that some of the friends I had would be with me for life, but they’ve drifted away and we haven’t spoken in months. The acquaintances I made in study groups seemed fleeting, yet I’ve gone on to share some of my best second year memories with them. Basically, friendships fluctuate and evolve in university more than they ever did in Sixth Form because you have so many more people to meet and connect with, and it is so much easier to find new relationships and cut out the toxic ones. That’s not to say that the people you meet on Day One won’t stick around though – one of my best friends in the world was the first person I met in halls.

I’ve only got one year until I’m no longer in full-time education, so I intend to make the most of what third year has to offer. This is probably going to consist largely of stress, stress and more stress because my life will revolve around my dissertation but hey, the upside is that I’ll still get student discount in Topshop so who’s the real winner?

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from being a student? Or what are you looking forward to most about university?

Best wishes,

Siobhán

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