So, yesterday I graduated. It has been a tough few years for me, but I am pleased to be able to look back with pride over my journey, difficult as it may have been. University is not easy for anyone, and although sometimes I felt disappointed in my experience, I am glad I’ve gotten through it reasonably well. But I really can’t take all the credit; I’ve had some wonderful support from friends and family – and there have been a few things I can safely say I wouldn’t have been able to do it without. Before I get choked up and start thanking everyone in an Oscars-acceptance-speech kind of way, here are some of the things that gave me a much-needed helping hand throughout the past few years:
It may sound ridiculous, but I genuinely don’t know if I could have made it through what I affectionately term ‘the four years of hell’ without the caffeinated comfort of my daily green teas. Some people might use a latte as their beverage of choice to get them through the day, but for me, nothing is better than the bitter taste of a well-steeped cup of goodness. Over the years I’ve tried many a flavour, from lychee to salted caramel (way better than you think, by the way), and although I’ll go through phases of obsession – last month it was pineapple and grapefruit – I will always return to my faithful lemon. Nothing has soothed me more than watching the steam rising from my trusty green mug as I frantically smash away at my keyboard hoping that some semblance of a readable essay would manifest before my eyes.
Sometimes I fall asleep at night with the JSTOR logo flashing ominously on my eyelids, forever imprinted on my retinas. But aside from that horrifying thought, I cannot give thanks enough to websites like this and Project Muse that exist to make the lives of academics so much easier. People these days tend to become angry about digital publishing, because they see it as a threat to the sepia-hued days of actual real books! And paper! But I for one, am thrilled at the advancements in making information more accessible to more people. Aside from meaning you can smash out an essay without necessarily having to enter the library (I am not advocating this), it also means that you have almost unlimited access to the ideas of other academics that can help you hone your own skills as a student.
Yes, I am going there. In an unashamed act of complete materialistic consumerism and as an unintentional advertisement for Apple, I am going to admit it – I love my Macbook. I can type faster than anything on this thing, I sync it with my phone with complete ease, it never gets viruses, it processes faster than any other non-Apple laptop I’ve used, it’s light enough to take with me basically anywhere and I can use two fingers to scroll down a page. Furthermore, on the two occasions it’s had problems, the Apple store have been able to fix it for free because it’s protected under consumer law. Okay, I may look like a flashy hipster when I bust it out in lectures, but ever since I stopped taking notes by hand, I can get so much more information down and don’t feel like I miss anything.
My cosy faux-fur blanket
Most degrees require a fair amount of reading – something I just cannot do in a library environment. The truth is, once you experience the sheer perfection of a cosy reading nook, you can’t settle for anything less when you have a book in your hand and a presentation to give on it at 11am the next day. This is where my faux-fur blanket comes into the mix. No matter your choice of reading nook, I can guarantee you it won’t be complete without a comfortable blanket. I’m sure there’s some science to it somewhere, but the warmth and complete softness allows you to take your mind off the fact that the heating in your student house doesn’t quite work and there are flakes of ice growing on the inside of the windows.
Palsgrave student planners
In my third year, I learned the true meaning of organisation. I know it’s said so often, but good time management is EVERYTHING at university. For so many years I just kept my work in a jumble of paper, odd to-do lists and word documents that I unhelpfully tended to save with names like ‘asdfghjkl’. This year, I have not only managed to consistently achieve higher marks than I ever did before, but because I managed my time well and knew what I was supposed to be doing at what time, I never had the mental breakdowns or stress of feeling like I had let myself down by leaving everything to the last minute. This planner is a testament to my degree. It helped me so much with its clear layout, its monthly to-do lists and its hints and tips on every page, that I’m not sure I would have achieved what I have done without it.
All in all, I am pleased that I decided to go to uni and get my degree. Difficult as it might have been, miserable as I often was, and irritating as I probably sound, I am very glad to have a wider pool of opportunities ahead of me. And although I don’t really know what the future holds, I excitedly welcome the next chapter…