The End of an Era

Have I mentioned that I finished my degree? No? Well now you know! I’m free until September when I continue my student journey and become a Masters student! Finishing third year wasn’t like finishing my other years though; instead of having that final exam and grinning my way through the last 5 minutes of the paper I had a presentation still looming at the top of the hill.

So, when that last exam was finished I was still relived but at the same time I knew that the celebrations couldn’t go on forever and there was still work to be done! It was a slow process after I’d initially made the presentation. In my head, I had bags of time to practice and while my housemate made a script I was confident that I didn’t need one. This just shows how little experience I have when it comes to presentations and made this section of my degree a steep learning curve to say the least.

After familiarising myself with the slides I practiced it over a skype call to my parents and even before I had passed the third slide my dad interjected with some advice. “I think you should write a script” is roughly what he said and it suddenly struck me that to tame the babbling, I would have to use his advice.

So, I set about writing a script and I was very daunted when the final version was three pages of typed text. I was sure that I was never going to be able to learn this but I rose to the challenge. Eventually, that is. The day that followed completing my script I barely looked at it and even though I knew that I should be reciting it more than 3 times a day, after a failed first attempt at learning it word for word I became thoroughly disheartened and left it for a bit.

In the two days before the actual presentation I actually started to sit down as learn it. I discovered that learning it word for word wasn’t the best option and just knowing roughly what to say was making my speech clearer and more directed. Gone was the babbling and finally I could see light at the end of the tunnel. I practiced it out loud a few times to myself, my parents and even to my friends in an empty lecture theatre the we found.

On the day, I was fine. I hadn’t had a sleepless night like I would usually and felt strangely numb with no nerves or anything. They came later. My talk was after a 30 minute break and as my time slot grew closer I became slightly hysterical with one of my lecturers asking if I was alright and suggesting that I should breath.

In the end, it wasn’t all that bad. I remembered the important parts of my script and even made the small audience laugh at a few blunders and mishaps. One of them being the fact that the title of my project on the timings sheet was vastly different to what I had actually done. I think I get spurred on by laughter, it makes me feel like the audience is with me instead of scrutinising me and I apparently handled questions at the end very well even though I forgot what an important gene in my study coded for!

The day concluded with a photograph being taken of our year with the lecturers and then a buffet lunch put on by the faculty. It turned out to be such a fantastic day and my highlight was being told that I had done a good presentation by my supervisor!

After that day, the novelty of finishing my degree faded as I was hit in the face with the realisation of how much stuff I had to pack. I got through it but I started to feel so overwhelmed by it all and the packing process was slow. I think it was because I was having to leave a characterful  house this time and not bland halls. I’d actually become to feel like I belonged in the East Midlands; I have local friends thanks to one of my friends boyfriends and I’ve got to know the area so well that I drive around it as if I was at home on the south coast. The thought of leaving for good made me feel suddenly anxious but I conquered this by writing lists. For some reason lists set my head straight and even though I didn’t actually look much at this one, it was enough to get me into my packing. The time soon came to load everything into mine and my parents car and then we were off on the three and a half hour drive home.

It seems that my undergraduate days are over and I’m sad that a lot of the friends I’ve made I may never see again! I suppose that’s the nature of education though, in college I only held onto a handful of friends but from university I hope I will hang onto more.

I feel like I’m a completely different person since starting university, no longer am I pretending to be an adult, I’m actually starting to feel like one and I owe so much of this to the university experience and how it’s made me more independent both financially and mentally. Of course, I now have a debt of over £50, 000 hanging over me but for some reason it doesn’t worry me because it’s been worth it. Even though I would never go back and do it all again, I have so many amazing memories that I can look back on to remember the good times and even more lessons that I’ve learned to get me through the bad.

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