Somehow, just like that, I am able to count down the weeks that I have left at the University of Edinburgh on my fingers. My time here has given me some of the happiest moments of my life. Despite the world looking very different to how it did when I was first joined university at 18 years old in 2019 – we are three Prime Ministers, two Monarchs and one pandemic later – Edinburgh has more-or-less been a very welcome constant in my life. It would be a lie to say that all four of my years at university were plain-sailing, nor indeed that Covid, strike action, and my year abroad to Oslo in my third year did not interrupt the Edinburgh experience for me. Nevertheless, as I have sat in the library working on my dissertation in the last few months, it got me thinking about the past four years.
My first reflection is that although the past four years seem to have gone by in a flash, there was actually plenty of time to do SO many great things! From various societies and sports, trips and talks, I have done a lot whilst being a University of Edinburgh student. Every year has felt very varied for me, not least because of all of the different activities that I have taken part in. I have played football and water polo whilst being at Edinburgh, and also been a member of GirlUp and the History Society.
Alongside this I worked as a student ambassador and had a job as a tutor. Doing all of these things alongside my degree, although a little challenging at times, was ultimately really rewarding. It was such a nice way to meet people from outside of my degree and spend time doing other things that I love. It is easy to get caught up in the academic side of university, but I would recommend making the most of all the other extra-curricular things on offer at Edinburgh – it is unlikely these will all be available in the same capacity elsewhere.
Secondly, I realised the importance of taking the holiday time that we are given as an opportunity to relax and reset. My degree structure meant that my assignments were usually always handed in before the holidays – be it Christmas, Easter, or Summer. Term time is intense, and especially towards the end can get quite overwhelming with exams and final deadlines. We all deserve a well-earned break from this structure and the holidays are the perfect time for this! There is no point starting a new semester or year feeling exhausted from the previous one.
As well as taking breaks during term time, I have recently come to the realisation that it’s okay to take these following graduation too! As I approach the end of my time at university, the worst (but most common) question to be asked is: “What are your plans after graduating?”. I used to sheepishly respond saying I didn’t have any idea. Now, though, I think that is so cool! The options are endless, and the possibilities are so exciting. If you have your future figured out as soon as you leave uni then I think that’s really great, but I don’t think there should be any pressure. After four years of studying, and the final year is the most intense, it can be a lot to organise a job, internship, master’s degree or anything else alongside this. I’ve learned that there is nothing productive about being too harsh on myself; I am confident I will figure everything out and, in the meantime, I will enjoy the freedom of being a young adult!
My final reflection on the past four years is that people really make the place. Edinburgh is a beautiful city – indeed my favourite ever – full of wonderful places, but especially people. From my friends, course-mates, lecturers, and colleagues, everyone who I have had the pleasure of knowing has really been a delight and I really took it for granted how often I was able to see these people.
I feel so lucky to have lived in some gorgeous Edinburgh flats with just as lovely people, making memories along the way. As Edinburgh is a relatively small city to me (I am originally from London), my friends were never more than a walk or bus journey away, a true privilege of living here. Some of the people I’ve encountered in Edinburgh were just friends that I would sit with in tutorials; others are best friends for life. No matter where someone falls on this spectrum, in one way or another, they all contributed to my Edinburgh experience and for that I am so grateful.
Overall, it has been a privilege to spend the last four years at the University of Edinburgh, and I will carry the time I’ve spent here with me for the rest of my life.