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Life after university

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By Heather Marr

Over the past year, I have discovered an irritability towards two words: ‘dissertation’ and ‘graduation’. And thankfully, there is some solace to be found in that I am not the only fourth year who thinks so.

I remember the moment it hit me that I was coming to Stirling. Truthfully, I cannot remember receiving my offer or accepting my place – but I can remember the day I realised I was going to university.

It was that sort of summer night where the heat wraps around you like a blanket, when even the breeze feels warm. We were walking from our local pub back towards my house, the sun burn on my nose was itchy and my stomach ached from cider and laughing. The sun was still hanging low and the sky was streaked with colour over the fields.

Someone turned around to me and said that they had met their conditional, they were going to Stirling – that we were going together. We laughed and hugged each other, but at that moment something changed. Stirling was not just something I had created in my head, it was a real place where myself and my friend would be spending the next four years of our lives. Little did I know that Stirling was not going to merely be someplace I would be studying in, it would become my home and morph me into the person I am today.

And today, I need that growth that I have acquired here to decide where to go next. Somewhat ironically the hell that my dissertation has created has started to feel comfortable, it’s what I know. Once when it’s handed in that path ends, and that’s when the bigger, more daunting choices must be made.

Do I work? Do I do a Masters? Do I take a break from studying? And as summer is fast approaching I can feel myself worrying more and more.

It feels like I am taking a jump; university was an inevitability for me, it felt like the natural progress in life, the next step. Now, I feel like I am floundering in an ocean of uncertainty.

But over the past few weeks I have come to the realisation that a raft is not going to magically appear on the horizon offering me a direction. I must swim and make my own journey. And after realising this, I got a little excited.

For the first time, I am getting to choose something, not because it’s the done thing, but because I want to. So now I am finding myself in my spare time looking at masters in Europe, internships in America, jobs in Canada, brushing up on my foreign languages – and I can feel the ecstasy blossoming. Suddenly I feel ready to start a new chapter in my life. The thought of graduating has become less intimidating.

Leaving Stirling will not be easy and I will miss it, but I feel I have taken all I can from here. I have learned so many extraordinary things, created some truly precious memories that I treasure for the rest of my life, and experienced far more than I ever thought I possibly could. Stirling has helped to build me into a person that feels ready to walk into life and seize all opportunities. Although I have never felt younger in my whole life it is simultaneously the most prepared I have ever felt. I am ready for this summer, and whatever else happens after that.

Photo: Stuart Graham

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