Confessions of a Graduate – Forever Friends? The Difficulty of Keeping in Touch

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Remember when you wanted to see a friend in univrsity; all you had to do was pick up the phone and arrange to meet up that day? After uni that becomes much harder. Like some cliché narrative, after graduation you all go your separate ways; you all move back home, find jobs (if you are lucky) and make new friends or reconnect with pre-university pals and somewhere along the way you slowly merge yourself into a new/old friend group. However, you don’t forget your university buds and you promise yourself to make more an effort to meet up with them no matter how far apart you may be but to no avail due to work commitments or financial troubles.

The truth is that you don’t realise just how amazing those friends are until the possibility to meet back up with them is made more difficult. Memories of explaining what Barthes truly meant by ‘Death of the Author’ to each other around the kitchen table or playing board games with all your university chums under one roof brings a smile to your face. Nostalgic recollections to remind you just how amazing an experience university was with those you shared it with. These friends know exactly how it felt that first day you entered higher education, the time you set off the fire alarm and your first 3,000 word essay because they felt the same too. Even more so, they developed into mature academic adults the same time you did (if not for the occasional drunken slip into childishness that all uni students tend to suffer from on nights out). It is constantly thrown about that these people are going to be your friends for life but how can that be if you never find time to meet up or talk? Unfortunately, working and moving apart from one another is part of becoming an adult; earning a living and finding a career rather than a job becomes numero uno on a post-graduates list of priorities. So it is no surprise that some social groups begin to fade away into a sort of dream-like memory. But why should all of them? Surely some friendships, be it before university or during it, are worth maintaining?

So I ask you all to pick up that phone and make a long-awaited call to your uni friends because it’s always best to reminisce and giggle about the past with those involved.  Who knows, maybe with commitment to make it work, you can both make memories once again no matter how long ago you both graduated or how far apart you live from one another. You won’t know until you try.

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Confessions of a Graduate – The Pressure to Party Hard

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With so many stereotypes out there, I find myself drawn to having to make clear that university students are not all alike; very few of us are actually drug crazed, alcoholic sex addicts who laze about our halls of residency all day instead of going to our lectures. University is actually extremely hard work and yes, I myself, drink on occasion however my version of hell is something that many my age are arguably pressured by society to partake in; clubbing.

I’d rather an evening in with a bottle of red with some of my close friends discussing local news, individual interests and general joking around (maybe a non-competitive game or two) than in some dimly lit club. I find no satisfaction in yelling over the latest dubstep track to tell my friends that I am going to the bathroom in fear that when I return they will have moved onto the next bar. Only to discover that they have ultimately become like El Dorado; impossible to track down. Thus the night ends with a long, lonely walk home cursing my bladder for failing me.

As you might have guessed, finding little fun in clubbing made the first year of university very difficult thanks to British society’s pressurizing view of what is expected from a university student. Everyone knows (or simply assumes) that is how you make friends there. However, it is not the only way. In fact, usually the people you meet out while partying remain strangers because you barely know anything about them other than the type of drink they like to consume at a bar. The beauty of university is that it encompasses so many different people that you might otherwise never meet. I know for a fact that there are others like me who do not find the art of clubbing something they want to partake in. In that sense I am not alone.

We may be the forgotten; those who are perhaps a minority within our age group. We are ignored because we do not fit the stereotype of the lazy, dubstep crazed uni student. So next time someone makes an assumption that everyone my age likes Sambuca, hangovers and drunken orgies, please think of me and my friends enjoying our quiet nights in enjoying our youth our own way.

Confessions of a Graduate – Replacing your Dissertation with the Dishes

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Growing up is hard. Age and experience seemingly go hand in hand yet no one discusses how they can also rub against one another like a new shoe one size too small on the back of a heel. The end of our university lives is one such moment which can twist and corrupt the link between what we have experienced as independent adults living in a scummy university residency and returning back ‘home’ with the parents.

You begin the first year of university life as a scared child who spends half that year feeling uncontrollably homesick scared of the change of surroundings (something I assume devout Conservatives feel concerning British Politics and society).   You find yourself constantly reminded that you are just one phone call away from returning back home to the safety of the room you once called yours for almost two decades. However, as you get used to the surroundings and grow more confident in yourself, university life doesn’t seem so…BIG! Before you know it you have made friends that aren’t just the ‘acquaintances’ you were thrown into student halls with; they are your uni family.

Soon enough though your degree comes to an end, your friends all go their separate ways and you find yourself returning back home to that room you spent so much of your life in. Granted you have returned to it several times before during university holidays yet something is different this time. The walls seem closer, the atmosphere seems less welcoming, the things you held so dear in there feel like they belong to a different person now. You have outgrown this room. To step one foot back inside feels like relinquishing all freedom and responsibility you held for three years. The sense of regressing to a time before university lays alert in the back of your mind, reminding you that this house is not home, it is a cell. You must get out! You must escape! You need your freedom and your only chance for this is getting a job.

Now sitting in my old room on my bed surrounded by the memorabilia of my childhood and pictures of my uni family and I on Facebook, it dawns on me that I am wrong about the whole situation. This room is not my prison. Sure, I may not be employed right now perhaps in part due to being over qualified for any jobs in my home town. There is the risk that I will leave as soon as a graduate position opens up somewhere else (which in all honesty is probably true) but with employment comes a lack of freedom as well. Granted, I must live under my parent’s rule and do things as they wish them to be done but they are my family. The key is to remain positive. After all, I must remember that, although it feels like I have reverted back to childhood, I have already grown from that small, insecure boy taking his first steps into Portsmouth’s James Watson Halls into the man you see before you and he refuses to give up.