Education: I think you either love it or you loathe it. Personally, I really, really love it. I’ve just come to the end of 18 years of full time education and it’s a very bittersweet feeling. I’m certainly looking forward to the future and all the things it may or may not bring, but I’m unbelievably sad about leaving behind the books and the late nights and the endless note-taking. After I finished my undergraduate degree last summer I didn’t really feel it as I knew I would be back come the autumn for my Masters course; this time it feels final. I’m seriously entertaining the idea of applying for a PhD, but realistically I don’t think it would be the right option for me just now (give it a few months and I may have changed my mind, though). Yes, I have loved all the nights out and the sleeping ’til lunchtime side of things, but I have enjoyed learning so, so much. I didn’t dislike high school by any means, but university is really where everything fell into place. These have been the best five years and I’d go back in a heartbeat and do them all over again if I could.
Some people aren’t suited to university at all. Some people stick it out because of the opportunities it will bring at the end of it. But I can honestly say I have loved every second of it, even the 9am lectures about intellectual history and the three 60 page “short” articles that need to be read for the next day’s seminar. Even over the last couple of months whilst I’ve been writing my dissertation, it may have felt like it was taking over my life and there weren’t going to be enough hours in the day to get it finished on time, but never once did it feel like a chore. I chose my degree, Scottish History, because I loved the subject, not because I was thinking about what career I could pursue afterwards. Perhaps this was foolish, but I think it’s better to do something you love and do well at it rather than scrape through something you’re not interested in just for the sake of it. As you can probably imagine, it’s not the most well-known or popular degree ever (in fact, only two other people graduated with the same undergraduate degree as me) but that has meant I’ve had first pick of course choices and the opportunity to work with some of the best scholars in the subject. A special wee mention has to go to my supervisor, who has seen me through not one but two dissertations and so many essays I wouldn’t even know where to begin counting. Exams were never my strong point, but I would happily lie snuggled in my bed on a rainy November afternoon, surrounded by a sea of books and pages and pages of notes, tap tap tapping away on my keyboard, perfecting an essay or two. It’s such a great feeling when you finish writing and you feel like you actually know something.
I would, of course, be lying if I said I only enjoyed university for the essays. I’ll miss the Saturday nights at the union, sticky floors, 80s music and all. I’ll miss the gummy bears snuck into the back of lecture theatres, served up along with last night’s gossip. I’ll miss all the people timetabled into my life, by fate or by circumstance, who’ll no longer be on my schedule every week. I’ll miss walking to class through the Meadows on windy autumn mornings, and I’ll miss walking home even more. I’ll miss evenings in front of the TV, half-heartedly highlighting something and instead swapping notes on the most annoying people in our classes. Oh, and I’ll miss the student discount too.
And maybe it’s overdramatic, but I think I’m going to feel a little lost these next few months. This will be this first year that a change in seasons hasn’t meant a fresh new term, complete with pristine back-to-school notebooks and an empty library card waiting to be filled up with loans. It seems like both a lifetime ago and only yesterday, simultaneously, that I arrived for my first week of classes on a September afternoon five years ago. What I wouldn’t give to be 17 again.