Well friends… this is it. Assignments done. Dissertation handed in. My time as an undergraduate at Queen Mary has come to an end. I feel everyone always talks about starting university, about first-day nerves, the excitement, and about how it is going to be the best time of your life. Nevertheless, no one talks about what it feels like when it all comes to an end. In some ways, it was quite anticlimactic and hollow. While I am beyond thrilled that I don’t have any more essays to write, I must admit that right after I handed in my final piece of work, there was a moment of ‘ok…what now?’ What do I do with my time? I am not going to sugar-coat anything for you. The final year of your undergraduate degree will be intense and challenging. During the last year, it felt like the moment I finished one assignment it was time to start working on the next one, and when I wasn’t doings essays or preparing for seminars, I was working on my dissertation (a dissertation is a 10,000-word research project). It might be hard to believe but I loved every minute of it! As I was so busy all the time and always had something to get on with, after everything was done, I felt directionless – I no longer had a goal to work towards. At the same time, I felt a massive sense of accomplishment that I had completed my degree, and I absolutely cannot wait to wear my cap and gown and celebrate with my friends and family!
It’s impossible to estimate the number of times I declared to myself and to all those who would listen that “I’m ready for my degree to be over. I’m sick of all these essays!” Nevertheless, I already miss the euphoric feeling that you get when you encounter a particularly difficult question that feels impossible to answer, but then you have a ‘light-bulb moment’, a flash of inspiration, and suddenly the argument that you are trying to establish in your essay seamlessly falls into place. There is nothing quite like it! As you can probably guess, I am not ready to leave academia just yet. That is why I will be back to Queen Mary in September to start my MA in Postcolonial and Global Literatures. The poor English Department just can’t get rid of me!
I am spending my summer by doing lots of temp work (most of it is mind-numbingly boring but very good pay!), and going to public lectures, seminars and academic conferences at my university and all over London to begin preparing for postgraduate studies. For example, a few weeks ago I went to the first event in QM’s Postcolonial Seminar, which is open to the public if any of you are interested in attending, where Professor Ania Loomba from the University of Pennsylvania gave a brilliant lecture on Women, Communism and Feminism in India. Also, I am working on various events and projects with the School of English and Drama and the Widening Participation team, including QM’s summer open days and the Humanities Summer School.
One of the best things about finishing my degree is that now I have time to read for pleasure. I don’t need to speed through a novel in order to be ready for my seminar, or worry about essays or deadlines, but just sit in my garden or in the park, in the sunshine and read. I remember an alarming number of people told me when I was starting my degree, “Oh doing an English degree put me off reading! You’re going to hate it after”. Well, I am happy to inform you that has not happened, if anything, it made me love reading even more and introduced me to a vast range of incredible authors.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as an undergraduate. My course was intellectually stimulating and hugely interesting, and constantly challenged me to think in different ways. I loved being part of the university community, and I don’t mean to sound like a certain leader of the free world, but I got to know the best people. I have really enjoyed writing this blog and I hope you found some of it useful. I don’t know who any of you are, but thank you for being part of my uni experience, and adiós!