University: complete. The opening of a new chapter, as they say. Of course, there are conditionals. A possible return is not ruled out in the long term, but for now postgraduate study is not in the immediate pipeline. What is certain, or at least 90 per cent probable, is that I’ll be donning those monochrome robes at the start of July. All being well – that’s a much-coined expression these days. No less true for repetition though.
Now I suppose I’ll have to go about becoming a fully contributing, council tax paying member of society. I’ve been stripped of my luxurious licence to mope, to ponder unbounded, and to devour literature indiscriminately. The second skin of my dressing gown must, alas, be shed. Student life, with its day drinking, meadows sprawling, and midweek revelry is giving way to sensible structure; anarchy curtailed.
But around what must this era of ushered-in discipline coalesce? A job, perhaps. That seems to be the inevitable terminus if not further institutionalisation. I’ve had two this academic year – as a chef for the student union (through which I was granted immortalisation in a post-festival advertising campaign for fringe catering staff) and my current position as music editor for The National Student. The former I gave up in December due to dissertation pressures and to be able to focus on the journalism, or writing in general, that I would very gladly make a living from. That’s not something I’m intractably bound to, however, and ideal employment, for me, would involve the chance to be creative and to contribute to the betterment of the world, or at least part of it, in some shape or form. From this, you may have already guessed that I don’t have such a “role” lined up.
Another frequently asked question: what will graduation mean for my living situation? Well, accommodation is, of now, a medium-term issue rather than an immediate concern because my flat lease lasts until the end of June. For the time being then, I’m in Edinburgh. I certainly would be sad to leave the city if I have to relocate. Glasgow has been talked about. The BBC, cheaper rent, more gigs. I could return to Orkney – there would be work there, for sure, and fewer distractions too for my projects. London holds appeal and beyond that, Europe post-Brexit; dreams of Paris, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, or, heaven forbid, the country whose culture I’ve dedicated myself to for the past four years – I could start a life in Leipzig. Needless to say, here, too, lies a deal of uncertainty, yet it’s a void from which substance shall emerge; the zero is a placeholder and not a numerical null.
My last exam was on Wednesday – literary translation. I managed to emerge unsullied by baking ingredients before decamping to a beer garden where the afternoon was seen out on scalding hot benches under glorious sunshine. There was talk of returning home, teacher training and the durability of student romances now that circumstance was disbanding us, and so the brilliant yellow held a melancholy tinge, despite the dilution of copious Tennent’s.
After spending many a day holed up in the library, I’d like to devote myself to a better quality of life. That’s already started. Made a nice vegan curry this weekend and went to the gym today, although admittedly it took me a good 20 minutes alone to retrieve finally retrieve my wayward shorts from an obscure corner of the wardrobe after months of neglect.
In the wider world, more important things than my undergraduate career are coming to an end though. Game of Thrones airs its last episode this week. It seems to be rather hurtling towards its conclusion, which is disappointing, but I’ll always be grateful that it exists. My thoughts generally on the matter is that it fell off after the fourth season and never fully recovered, despite some really compelling moments in season six (Battle of the Bastards, The Door). Dialogue and complexity fall to one side in favour of set pieces and stunning visuals, but it does look epic, so there is that. As a book reader, my sights are set on Winds of Winter now, which is sure to be quite a different tale from the fanfiction the show is now embarking on.
It’s a time of transition for all involved. The future is wide open, although I’d like to narrow it down just a little bit if only to be able to answer people’s questions and those I ask of myself.