A graduate’s nostalgia: the transition to university

As a recent graduate, contemplating my own future career, goals and other such overwhelming thoughts has given me the time to reflect upon my own experiences at Nottingham. It has not yet completely dawned on me that in September I shall remain stranded at home. The only welcoming news of my recent departure is that the looming, ominous presence of coursework deadlines is now non-existent and unable to sink its talons in a tightening grip around my chest. A constant reoccurrence the night before an expected piece of work is in need of submission in the morrow. Yet after three years I look back with an air of disbelief of my actual achievement of a degree. When I was younger I never saw myself doing GCSEs or A levels, they seemed to be in a very distant future while I will remained in equilibrium – a child forever. Of course it wasn’t the case although my ignorance of how time operated in my youth has made me perplex by my own progression in life. University has thus far been the most rewarding period of my life, and yet again at the time I undoubtedly believed I was in another stage of permanent equilibrium.

I can safely say that when I look back at my student life I am pleased with my own actions. By the end I took every opportunity that was handed to me and lived to the fullest in what was financially possible. Thinking back to my initial arrival in Nottingham however, I was almost paralysed with fear and random intervals of dread, excitement and location confusion pushed through like the tied of the ocean. Calm then dread. Calm then excitement. Calm then … Where am I? New faces to me then are now good friends and each blink of an eye saw another year gone leaving me to where I am today. From academia to my personality and confidence, university has allowed me to grow and development beyond my own expectations. I at the beginning would not have believed it.

Going back to my first week and the trawling week one presentations that forced you to look shocked and bewildered as all the information we were expected to remember dissipates from the mind. A mutual experience shared by all freshers. I was a relatively shy boy amongst a whole group of similar nervous and anxiety driven peers. Brief encounters with people had the same conversational structure: What is your name and where are you from? What are you studying? What A levels did you get? After first year you could always spot the fresher in the library as these questions or a massive debate over why their A levels should have been higher was always their favourite topics of discussion. I remember sitting in these introductory lectures going can I do this? Really can I? I was excited too, but after the effects of alcohol confidence wore off, inner doubts plagued the mind with the realisation that you were there to primarily work hard and for it to pay off with good results.

Although quite scared of this new environment, I quickly eased into the lifestyle and work. My cooking improved from plain soup to vegetable soup and by the end of first year I could have even opened my own restaurant by my new discovery of putting balsamic vinegar in everything. I believed the ingredient made everything piece of food I made ‘classy’. It was in my first year that I got a bearing on what I enjoyed studying, I had taken risks and they came with mix results and critic. I was not afraid to get things wrong or to push myself beyond my own capabilities and I must say, it later paid off. It was in my first year at Nottingham that I became content and I knew that I had made the right decision.

I think back to how intense the start of university career was and how my nervous disposition and unsettled feelings easily evaporated in the fast pace student environment. It is ironic to think that now, as I write this, I am thinking and trying to organise my unexpected future, the uncertainty of what lies ahead; and that I am less scared now then I was in my first week at university – a place that has an end goal, a direction. I am prepared. My first year represented a new journey for me and again I am at another starting point. This time however, I am unperturbed by the veil covering what is to come, I am ready to embrace it.

Alexander Jones (BA Art History, 2010-2013)

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