It’s true. I am one of the unfortunate students that had to finish a university degree in the middle of a pandemic.
Here is how I feel about it.
Class of anticlimactic
I spent the first months of lock-down sitting under the stairs in my childhood home, frantically writing the final assignments of university.
Then it only took a second to hand in my dissertation online, and I celebrated with coffee and guilt-free Netflix in bed.
Finishing university at home was anticlimactic.
Class of no graduation
I spent four years thinking about the day I would graduate.
On July 6, 2020, I would wear a gown, and underneath a power suit (I had this planned!), throw my cap and take pictures with my best friends. Then we would throw the biggest bash and celebrate with an endless stream of pints.
My family had their tickets ready to come see me get my diploma and had a minibus tour of Scotland planned.
I was excited to honour (read: drink away) four years of tears, hard work and lots of laughter. We deserved all of it, and so much more.
But July 2020 saw no graduation, no caps and no gowns – not even bars or the ability to be together at all.
With such a ‘necessary’ ritual missing, did I even graduate?
Class of no goodbyes and no closure
At university, I lived with my four best friends and we were together a family. I loved coming home and hearing about their days, and we would watch shows together and cook dinner. Our little household became the first home that was entirely my own.
Being at university felt like living in a world consisting of only 20-somethings, an illusion I was not ready to let go of yet.
When borders started to close back in March, I received a frantic phone call from my parents practically begging me to come home.
As I had never heard my parents speak with that level of emphasis before, the inner child in me was alarmed, and I was on a plane the next day.
When I waved goodbye to my flatmates from the airport taxi, I didn’t think it would be a long-term goodbye. And so I’ve had to do the mourning in the aftermath of my departure.
I had all these lasts that I didn’t know were lasts, so leaving the university bubble prematurely felt rude and confusing. Suddenly everything was gone, and now it even feels like a distant dream.
Embarking on a new chapter before I managed to close the last one was harder than I thought.
Class of anxiety
I keep getting asked the question “But what are you going to do with a Politics degree?” Because my degree doesn’t make me a politician, my aunts and uncles are confused.
This question is particularly stressful because I don’t really know either!
And the anxiety chronicles are likely going to continue as we are apparently facing “the worst job market since The Great Depression”.
Class of acceptance
After weeks of anger, frustration, anxiety, and most of all confusion, comes acceptance. Four months of living with my parents for the first time in years, has taught me tolerance and patience, and I’ve gotten used to this more introverted way of living.
I’ve reached a level of acceptance that feels almost okay. I’ve overcome my university heartbreak and am only left with a dull ache of nostalgia.
Despite everything, I’m proud of Class of 2020 for getting through it all. Although we didn’t get the graduation we wanted, we still got our degrees!
We are going to look back at this and feel so many things, but most of all pride.
The best part about university, as cliché as it sounds, was the people I met there, and they’re not going anywhere (at least in spirit for now).
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