A nice and relaxing spring is something I always dream of. You know, like wearing a dress for the first time and running around the emerald green fields with an ice cream on one hand and a book (or smartphone if you prefer) in another, or bathing in the energizing spring sunshine with my girls while gazing out into the sea, uncontrollable laughter and bad jokes filling the air.
I actually almost achieved that today, with the exception of the book being lecture notes for causal mapping and fields having turned into the grey concrete corridors. But who cares about the little details, as I did get to enjoy of the best thing the soon-ending uni life has to offer – and that is being surrounded by truly a remarkable group of friends.
Right now I’m meant to be writing an essay, a thesis plan, doing exam prep and well, continue with the graduate job hunt that feels never ending. Numerical and verbal reasoning tests are slowly and surely driving me crazy. But anyway, instead, I found myself smiling and gazing into the distance and looking back on the little amazing things that have happened this spring.
From a trip to Tenerife to a weekend in beautiful Bath, from countless hours and sleepless nights spent on uni assignments to consultancy meetings and voluntary lectures, and running around between the LRC and sports sessions, I do feel I have done quite a bit these last few months. And this is what I learned from the experience.
Firstly, living on campus has really been something special, much better than I had expected. If you need help, there is always someone around – and this is true for anything from borrowing a sewing needle at 2am to make a costume amidst a creative burst, lending clothes prior to important presentations or making dinner for flatmates too busy to do it themselves. And if you run out of milk or sugar, well, the flatmates got you covered.
I’ve grown to love the knocks on the window and being greeted with a friendly smile as the girls want to come in to chill in the kitchen for no reason. Or to dance zumba and sing karaoke. Or the times when we had a pre-party and did Christmas decorations for windows and had random people walking past ask if we could teach them too. And we did.
Secondly, doing sports does keep you sane. You’d think having only 8h of lectures a week is easy, but with all reading and assignments and the fear of all final year students aka group work that can determine the difference between 2.1 and 1st class degree, it just all gets really tough mentally. Especially if you are like me and sign up for additional lectures and workshops, and apply for graduate jobs and work casual hours simultaneously. And try have a social life. And cook healthy food. Been a crazy spring, even had to say goodbye to Netflix!
Overall however, joining karate, rowing and recently kung fu groups have definitely improved my quality of life. They’ve not only introduced me to amazing people, but also allowed me to just zone out for a bit. If you go to uni, do sign up for sports clubs! You won’t regret it.
Thirdly, always say yes when you are invited somewhere. That’s how the best stories are made. From spontaneous trips abroad to party buses and spending 5h waiting for a train that never came at Kings Cross at New Years morning, the little experiences together create something spectacular.
I laugh when I think of Tenerife, and our spontaneous midnight swim in the sea. Or sumo wrestling with a flatmate, and the day we played pool and all of a sudden decided to book flights to Edinburgh with people we just met. And the road trip to Scotland with the guys, or the laughter-filled evenings and house parties and surprise birthday dinners. The countless ugly snaps and running around the campus with a mini water gun. I wouldn’t change a thing.
So what have I learned?
Not to give up, and keep on smiling even when homesick, tired and demotivated. Smile, take a silly snap, jump around and skip along the road, and after a while you start feeling better again. And if even still you feel sad, hug a friend real tightly and let them assure you it will all be okay.
Never to say no if invited somewhere, unless with a really good reason. Sometimes, going to bed at 9pm is acceptable, but I wouldn’t want to make a habit of it. Would miss out on too much.
To appreciate little things. It’s surprising how good it feels when a random person offers to help, the bus driver compliments the colour of your scarf, or just walking into the kitchen and having flatmates that are genuinely interested in how your day is going. There are also many things I miss from Finland – from central heating to cheap uni lunches and something as silly as finding fresh yeast and cardamom from the supermarket. It’s a different lifestyle and culture here, but different does not mean it’s better or worse in any way. I love living here, and I love it back home.
It is really interesting to see what the next steps will be. What comes after graduation.