Thursday, 25 May 2017

What University Has Taught Me

I finished my undergraduate degree today. I handed in my final assessment and I sat my final exam.

Naturally, I had to blog about it.

Looking back at my university experience, there’s no doubt it’s been good. I’ve done and achieved so much: I’ve spent nearly 2 years working at Oxfam Books, I’ve created and maintained a book blog (!!), and I’ve managed to spend 10 months living in Germany on my own. That’s no small feat.

Yet still, there’s a small niggling voice at the back of my mind that says “yeah, but it wasn’t the best time of your life, was it?”. It’s the same feeling you get when you read an over-hyped book: you may have enjoyed it, but you don’t get why everyone raved about it so flippin’ much. But university did achieve its purpose, it did indeed teach my things (other than the German subjunctive).

For one, the group of friends I have back home? They are the ones who are my friends for life. They’re my people, they understand me, and I will always go back to them. I have a few good university friends, but for the most part, my school clan is my clan for life. Love you all, you dirty nerds.

Secondly, my degree was a good choice. When I chose my degree, I chose it because I enjoyed German and I liked the sound of linguistics. My dad pushed and pushed for me to do engineering, which he saw as ‘useful’ (by which he meant something that led directly to a job) but I’m so glad I stuck to my guns. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, so it seemed to me that I should just do a degree I’d enjoy and see where it led me. To people applying to university now, this would be my first piece of advice. Choose what you love, not what seems like a good logistical choice. You’re going to be paying enough for the privilege of education, so you might as well enjoy it.

Finally, university has shown me that books are my passion. I know that doesn’t seem particularly groundbreaking for someone who runs a book blog, but before, books were just a thing I enjoyed in my spare time. It wasn’t until my Year Abroad, where I was alone and used books as my comfort, that I realised books could be part of my life in a bigger way. I’d spent so long chasing possible career paths that sounded interesting (German teacher, English teacher, librarian, the next Susie Dent) but something clicked last year. Something made me think “you know there are jobs that involve books, right?”. It’s the reason I now blog, why I spend as much as time as possible reading and absorbing book news, why I’m going to be doing a Master’s in Publishing from September.

These are the three lessons that really stick out and my gosh are they important ones. So thanks university: the laughs, the tears, the stress, the simple joy of a hot water tap in the’s all been quite the rollercoaster.

Now excuse me whilst I read to my heart's content.