So I’m currently packing up my room. My first ever room at university. Tomorrow morning I will strip my bed for the very last time – the bed that I’ve used every night for 9 weeks at a time during term before 5 away back in the one I’ve called mine for as long as I can remember. It’s a very odd sensation, but that’s no bad thing.
I remember all the way back in Michaelmas that I was very conscious that Cambridge was not home. Kent was home. Home to my family and friends and dog (who I’m not ashamed to admit that I probably missed most of all at times) and all things familiar. However, while familiarity is comforting, change is what truly makes life exciting. Variety is the spice of life after all. We all change as people.
We may not notice it ourselves, but others see change in us- a topic that has reared its head increasingly frequently as the end of first year approached us like a speeding steam train. For starters, in photographs from our very first days here, we all look so much younger. The archetypal fresh-faced first years, eager and anxious for what lay ahead of us. This is certainly no longer the case, something our May Week mug shots can attest to. Beyond the physical though, we have grown as people. One of my friends said she feels so much more independent now than she ever has before. Not that the Cambridge bubble is entirely reflective of the real world mind, with its porters who can solve any problem on the planet (and moreover do so with a smile and a joke) or its catering staff who cook the most incredibly lunches, brunches and dinners for us should we choose to eat in halls. It may not be total self-reliance, but it’s a far cry from living at home. Another friend (who some of you may recognise as the particularly pro-active international student who inspired me to take up a new hobby every term if you’ve followed my blogging across this year) mentioned that she felt so much more comfortable living in this country and could start to see herself moving here in future. To think that I’ve been part of introducing someone to a whole new culture and way of life feels amazing, all the more so her feeling comfortable here now.
As for me, I’m happy. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. University is so vastly different from school or college or 6th form. The work is difficult, but you’re not here because you have to be, you’re here because you want to learn; and being stretched to your intellectual limits is all part of a hugely rewarding learning experience. You live with the friends you make. They may or may not be in the same accommodation block as you, but they will never be too far away. You go through the highs and lows of university life together. The work struggles with the nights out on the town. You become each others family for the weeks that you’re away from your own, and quickly form bonds with some of the best people you will ever meet that will last a lifetime if you want them to.
I have a lot to be thankful for. I want to thank my tutor for giving me advice and courage in our termly meetings that have helped to see me through to the end of the year. I want to thank my DoS for being there for me when I was struggling more than I ever have before- if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be able to say that I’ve officially passed my first year of a degree from Cambridge University. I’d like to thank each of my supervisors for teaching me fascinating material and pushing me hard – helping me to become a better student and truly achieve something great. I’d like to thank my lecturers without whom I wouldn’t have had a shot at passing first year (by the way, you are forgiven for the early 9am starts!). I’d like to thank my college for keeping me safe and looking after me. Most of all though, I’d like to thank my friends. We may have only known each other for a matter of months, but I’m privileged to know each and every one of you, and I just can’t wait to see what next year brings.
The distinction from Michaelmas doesn’t apply any longer. University can be home too. It is for me at least.