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I’m Still Standing: Why Final Year is the Best

At the end of Trinity last year, I honestly thought that second year was as good as it got. I had a good second year, but I didn’t do anything particularly memorable. I did my degree, and a few bits and bobs when I felt like it. I was also under the impression that once you reach final year, you have to crack down and properly work, to get a proper degree.

Haaaaa – what absolute bullshit! This year has been FANTASTIC. Sure, I’m super stressed because I still have to get that proper degree, but I am living my best life.

Finally, 6 months before I graduate, I have ventured out of college walls to join a society. Cherwell has been a God send – very much needed breath of fresh air. While you may hear horror stories about spending hours on end in an office without heating (all true), I have made friends OUTSIDE of college and I actually LOVE it.

My biggest regret from my first two years – not getting involved in anything. Honestly, first year is a bit of a blur. Looking back, I wasn’t in a very good place which I definitely didn’t realise at the time. But, that meant I literally only did my degree. I didn’t do any extracurricular aside from a singular netball match each week. This was a big contrast from school where I stayed late every day for various things.

Don’t get me wrong, I did have a very good first year and I’ve made some friends for life (which is the most important thing, in my humble and correct opinion), so I’m not going to waste your time recalling my inner emotions from two years ago. But, when looking at the huge difference between my first and final year (so far) I can see why I’m having such a better time.

Firstly, at the risk of sounding unbelievably cheesy, I am so much more confident in myself. I cannot quite decide whether I’ve simply adopted a “fuck-it” attitude because I just don’t have time to care about a lot of things, or whether I’ve actually grown as a person. I’d like to think it’s the latter, but I reckon it’s a mixture of the two.

At the risk of sounding like an absolute nerd, even for this place, I am also loving my work. A thesis is a scary thing, but I now understand why it’s considered the most rewarding part of the degree. Also, after two terms of relentless classes, tutes, coursework, and now while I’m knee deep in my thesis, I really can’t wait to start revising. I currently have very limited memory of the last year and a half’s work, so I can’t wait for it all to make sense again. Plus, the library-hermit life is really quite enjoyable.

While I’m definitely going out less than first year, the main reason why this year has been quite so good is the social. I’ve never been a keen clubber, in fact – if I actually make it to a club – I usually sneak off at about 1am, to the despair of my friends. But there are two key differences between first (and second) year and third year. Number one, I have stopped going out for the sake of it. For the past two years, I would go out to Bridge or Park End because I thought I probably should, and I’d bend to peer pressure (what a bitch). Now, I go out because I genuinely want to, which has been revolutionary. Secondly, me and my friends are doing so many more cute things, like late night G&Ds, spontaneous trips to Spoons, and early morning breakfasts. It also helps that by this point I know who my friends are, and who I really want to hang out with.

It is 5th week of Hilary of my final year at Oxford, and I just feel so much more comfortable than I did when I arrived. I’m comfortable in my own skin, comfortable with my ability, my views, and with my friends. I am finally in the right place, and I feel good.

Understandably, therefore, my impending graduation is slightly upsetting. I keep thinking how much better my whole university experience would have been if I had simply changed a few things earlier. But, then again, I was a different person two years ago, and who knows what she would have done under the amount of work and lack of sleep I have now. She could barely do an essay and a half a week. No, I try to keep those thoughts out of brain and just be thankful with what I have.

Don’t get me started about jobs or further education. It’s slightly terrifying that a good proportion of my friends have jobs lined up for after graduation. Sometimes I question why on earth I didn’t just bite the bullet and do law or banking. Then off to the city I would go in September to earn lots and lots of money. Others are straight onto the master’s track, something I am definitely considering. People do masters to either bolster their CV for a certain field, e.g. international development, or they want to be an academic. You can rule the latter out straight away, and as for the former… surely you have to work out what you want to do first before applying for one?

All the indecision and cluelessness surrounding my future has left me with one option: GAP YEAR! Of course, this was not actually my only option. I could very well get a job, but I also just want a break. I have been in education for 19 years now, and I think it’s time to stop for a bit.

For this final reason, I am not scared about leaving university. It has been the best, and worst, time of my life, but I am ready to move onto the next phase. I have a million thoughts – journalist, diplomat, barrister, baker. I reckon if I had a job lined up, while it would be very reassuring, I would also probably be less excited about the next year. In fact, the endless fountain of opportunities keeps me going.

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