In a week I head back to Leeds, and although there is still a while until my final year actually starts, I’m already starting to worry about what life might hold after it and I already have a strange sense of nostalgia.
The truth is that for me, university wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, at least not straight away. I found the majority of my first year incredibly lonely and overwhelming, which was something I hadn’t experienced before. I think perhaps we hear so many stories about how amazing it is and how you meet so many people who become your friends for life that you’re not prepared for what happens when it doesn’t meet those expectations. I found it could be quite isolating. I loved being in a city though and pushed myself to keep meeting people and by the end of the year, I was sad to leave it all.
Second year was much better, I felt far more settled and preferred being in a house. I surrounded myself with like minded people, made sure my days were busy and took advantage of opportunities that came my way and the city I was in. I spent a lot of the year laughing and doing things that made me happy with people who made me happy.
But now, I’m thinking about my final year, about all the things I said I would do at university but haven’t, about how quickly it’s all gone and about what I’m going to do after it’s over. It’s not that I’ve got no idea what I want to do, it’s that there are so many things, I have so many different paths I could go down. I need to remember that there’s no rush, I have 9 years left of my twenties and as hyped up as they are, there are plenty of years after them. I guess I just have to make the most of what is planned, because after that who knows where I’ll be.
So this year, I’m going to work, yes, but I’m also going to join the societies I didn’t quite get round to joining and explore the city a bit more. I promised my mum I’d do a night of stand up comedy but perhaps that’s still a bit far-fetched. I want to actually do my readings so that there’s less late night library sessions and more time spent with friends.
Most importantly, I’m going to try not to compare my experiences with everyone else’s, because I’m pretty sure they’re probably just as stressed about it all as me.
Everyday since my last post, I have brainstormed ideas for what the next one should be about and to be honest with you, I’m still pretty stuck. I think it’s partly because every time I think of an idea or topic, I worry that either no one will care what I have to say about it, or that it won’t be good enough.
I’ve always been good, but not quite good enough. My essays are always ok, but never quite a first. I can sing, but gave it up when it got competitive because there were people much better than me. I acted throughout my school career but never got a lead part. I rowed, but never made the top crew. You get the idea. But writing is something I really want to be good at, it’s something I enjoy and want to share. Recently though, I think I’ve become so focused on producing words that I want other people to enjoy that I’ve forgotten to enjoy them myself. The fear of doing something and failing or doing something and it not being perfect is stopping me from trying in the first place. And no one got anywhere by not trying.
So, I’ve decided that I’m not going to worry. I’m going to write what I want to write and allow myself to not be perfect at it. I’m going to give my opinions and recommendations and advice and write pretty much whatever I want and enjoy it, and if you’d like to read it too, that’d be even better.
On Tuesday, my summer travels come to an end. I have spent the most unforgettable time in Greece, I’ve wandered for hours through Spain and have celebrated my family with them in the Channel Islands. I have no more holidays and no more exciting plans, just plenty of time to earn back all the money I’ve spent and scroll through the endless photos. However, in the meantime, and so that I can drag out the reminiscing for as long as possible, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learnt from the past 6 weeks.
Wear sun cream, everyday, right up to the edge of your swimming costume.
Don’t spend 12 euros on a mojito, it’s really not worth it.
You’re not going to exercise everyday, that’s ok. In fact it’s ok not to exercise at all.
Make sure you eat 3 meals a day, especially when travelling with a male, they get particularly hangry. Might be worth bringing snacks.
Send a couple of postcards, it makes other people happy and doesn’t cost you much.
Do as much as you can but don’t be annoyed if you couldn’t manage everything you wanted.
Don’t drink too much wine at lunch, you feel sleepy and lose the afternoon and then feel guilty about it later.
Be flexible, plans might change but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Clean your feet before you get into bed, there’s nothing worse than sandy sheets.
Try and see the sunset everyday.
When buying aloe vera moisturiser to help with sunburn, make sure it is in fact moisturiser and not hair conditioner (easy mistake to make).
Don’t compare your holiday to other people’s, you’re lucky to be where you are and should be busy living your life, not looking at theirs.
Remember that people form opinions about you quickly in a shared villa, try and make sure they’re good ones.
Sneaking into hotel pools is easier than you’d think and a great way to spend the afternoon. Added bonus if it’s a DoubleTree Hilton, they give out free cookies.
Don’t forget bug spray and make sure you don’t run out of toothpaste.
Don’t underestimate the difference an iced coffee can make to your mood but don’t get addicted, they’re full of sugar.
If you’re going on a bike ride, make sure you won’t be cycling up any surprise mountains (I learnt that the hard way)
Always carry a deck of cards or uno.
Swim in the sea, 9 times out of 10 it is true when people say “It’s lovely once you’re in”.
It’s ok to take a bit of time for yourself if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Chances are you won’t realise what a great time you’re having until it’s over, make sure you enjoy it while you’re there.
If you are yet to embark on your summer travels I am incredibly envious, I shall be here, trying to endure the heatwave and drinking copious amounts of Pimms which actually, now I think about it, doesn’t sound that bad at all.