September 19, 2017, by Andrew

The beginning and the end: musings of a retiring student

One week from now I shall submit my MRes thesis. A glorious, joyous moment of self-praise and achievement, followed by a quick sojourn to my subconscious for a fleeting moment of WHAT THE HECK DO I DO NOW???, before regaining composure and marching post-haste to the nearest fine English tavern/Inn/pub/watering-hole/reduced unbranded supermarket beer shelf. In short, dear reader, I shall celebrate, reflect and be merry.

I’ve been a student for a little over four years now, and I’m very nearly at the end of this adventure (for now anyways, I very likely will undertake a PhD next year [because who wants to pay council tax, anyways!?]). If I could go back to my undergraduate Uni and give myself some advice, I don’t suppose I’d have too much to say. Perhaps I’d urge myself to be a little more outgoing, a little more socially engaged, and to commit more to a society or sports team. But in earnest I don’t think I would change much. I went to uni as my quirky, slightly shy little self, and I left uni as my quirky slightly less shy self; with the addition of an excellent group of absolute losers I call my friends. It’s all too easy to read some nonsense post from the ‘Lad Bible’ or the likes and to believe the most important thing in your first year at uni is going out, meeting everyone, pushing your limits etc etc. And if that’s your jam; great. But if it’s not, then don’t be afraid to keep doing what you do best. Of course, uni is a great time to try new things, and I urge you to do so. But that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t stop being yourself! Universities are a vast cornucopia of personalities, and that means plenty of people just like you are out there, looking for – you guessed it – people like you to hang out with.

You’ve probably heard people tell you not to worry about your academic work in first year because usually it ‘doesn’t even count towards your final grade’. While this is true, the importance of actually knowing the foundational knowledge of your chosen field cannot be understated. Enjoy your first year, relax a little, and don’t bog yourself down if your grades aren’t yet 100% where you want them to be. There’s plenty of time to work on that later, but attend your lectures, do a little extra reading, and get in the good-books of a few key academics – they might offer you some great opportunities in the future!

One thing I wish I did more of in my first year was flat-meals (that is to say cooking and eating a grand meal together with all my flat-mates; not some kind of ikea-sourced ready meal). We only had a few of said occasions in our flat, namely the most glorious Christmas dinner together, but it’s a great opportunity to spend time with your entire flat/house, as often there’s someone who might not otherwise engage much at all, for whatever reason, and encouraging them to share a communal meal could really help them feel included and make a big difference to their university experience.

I came to Nottingham a little over 12 months ago to begin my MRes, and have enjoyed living in the small but vibrant city. Try to make the most of living here, because I can guarantee you’ll miss it when you’re gone. Check out Nottingham Contemporary, Wollaton Hall and Park, watch Ice Hockey at the motorpoint arena, see something live at the Theatre Royal, and check out some of the marvellously quirky pubs, bars and cafes the city has to offer.

In short, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the 1500 days that I have been a student and just by being yourself, pushing your comfort zones just a little, and being open to new experiences, you will too. Enjoy freshers, try out loads of clubs and societies, hang out with people both like and unlike yourself, party hard, dance until your shoes wear thing, and remember to eat your vegetables.

Au revoir et bonne chance, ya filthy animals!

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