Let me make one thing clear: no, I have not finished studying. I am in fact still in the throes of my degree and I am still allowed to eat bran flakes for dinner. Therefore, I profess no authority on the reality of living a postgrad’s life. I do not know what it is like to look back on three years of mostly drunken stupor and a bit of Jstor meandering and think – FUCK. Yet, it’s approaching. It creeps ever closer, from the middle of the second term of your first year: “it’s nearly over!” is your feeble cry as you complete another essay one minute before the deadline.
This is, therefore, an outsider’s perspective. I have become — for the purpose of this article — a spy in the house of ‘real life with no maintenance loan’. A ghost of Second Year’s existential crises. A phantom of life before having to live with my parents again. What I have learnt from my eavesdropping is just how awful the first year of this ‘freedom’ can be. It just sucks. There’s no way to sugar coat it; you will be tired, you will have less money, you will hate yourself a bit, and feel worthless if you don’t get a job right away.
Some of these worries may be worth thinking about, some are absolutely not. But, what my prying has also led me to discover is that this feeling or state does not last. This anxiety, this teetering on the edge of ‘I’m okay, really’ will end. For some, finishing can be a relief – people flourish, learn new hobbies, or find the dream career (or, perhaps more realistically, intern for someone doing the dream career without being paid for your time and effort). It’s going to be a slog no matter how shiny and presentable the university can make you.
But I will assure you that it will be ok. Take time to sleep and look after yourself; you’ll need all your strength to explain, on your 800th application, why your GCSE work experience is VERY relevant to you now. Remember, hit all the bases, try every job search website, go to the job centre, ask around.
Do not be ashamed.
My source informed me that the best thing to do is talk to people about your stress. Try to find a job at university and hold onto it after you graduate – you might feel a little more secure. Some further advice:
- Use the university’s career service.
- Don’t binge drink.
- Go to the Lake District.
- Go to the swimming pool. Cycle to work.
- Be a better boyfriend or girlfriend than you were in uni.
- Take Friday evenings off.
- Try your hardest not to go further into your overdraft, and if at all possible use your last maintenance loan instalments to start paying it off – you don’t need as much money in your last terms because you should be studying anyway.
- Save money every week, even just a tenner will add up to a nice weekend holiday in a couple of months.
- Go to Edinburgh just to walk through the streets.
- Be there for your friends, they will also be trying to get through this with variations on the above, and it won’t work for everyone. They will be there for you too.
Have faith. It will get better.