Thursday, 24 October 2013

Graduate Life

Hello everyone. Long time no see!

I have set up a hot spot on my iPhone as a (very) temporary solution to having no internet connection in my little flat.

Life in Norwich is settling very well indeed. As the weather becomes more cold and crisp, I can really feel the progression into the new season. Oddly enough when I was walking to work today, I saw how beautiful the cherries looked on one of the cherry trees I passed. I thought of Keats' 'To Autumn':

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
        With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
    To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
        And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
            To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
        And still more, later flowers for the bees,
        Until they think warm days will never cease,
            For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
    Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
        Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
        Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
    Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
        Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
            Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
    And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
        Steady thy laden head across a brook;
        Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
            Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
    Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
        Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
        And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
        Among the river sallows, borne aloft
            Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
        Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
        The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
           And gathering swallows twitter in the skies. 

I think that there is a reason this poem is so popular, even amongs those who aren't avid readers. I remember at my Creative Writing class in sixth-form college (I always took extra classes!), we were trying to write poems on this topic. I remember my teacher saying how the word 'mellow' sounded like a ripe fruit itself. Urgh, incredible.

I've had such a thirst for learning and a willingness so write, so I had to, here - tonight.

Life itself is a bit like Autumn at the moment. I feel that, while I'm really pleased to have graduated and have moved on from university, I'm left longing for the promise of leading on to better things.

Graduate life is not what I expected. I have a job and a home. I'm in a new city but I do not have a tutor to see if I'm finding it hard to settle in. There are no Freshers events to go to if you're feeling lonely. You receive no praise and your hard work isn't defined by good grades, but by luck and perserverance. There are no student loans and you need a job to pay the Council Tax. The Job Centre won't pay you because you've never earnt anything before and have therefore not contributed enough to gain any financial assistance. Graduate life isn't depressing - it's just an anti-climax for those who don't progress onto MA's or graduate schemes.

I say that, but I have been reading with so much more enthusiasm since graduating. I have been reading Woolf and Joyce - authors that I didn't seize the opportunity to study beforehand. I feel confident reading these by myself, though. Also, a postgraduate study option is never a closed opportunity. My enjoyment of, and ability to appreciate, literature has increased dramatically. I no longer have deadlines to meet or argue over (arguably) frivolous matters such as whether F. Scott-Fitzgerald purposely uses synaesthesia in 'The Great Gatsby' or not.

I remember reading articles last year about people, who after leaving university, had very pessimistic views on life because of their inability to live in 'the real world'. I do not think this myself. The great thing is having some spare money to spend on a shampoo that isn't Alberto Balsam and also you learn some terrific social skills too! For me, the distinction between 'uni life' and 'real life' isn't distinct at all. It was always blurred for me (if that makes sense!) - as I actively pursued paid work outside campus, would wake up at 6am on Wednesdays for work experience at the local primary school and always tried something new, whether it was playing the 'cello in a beginners' orchestra or learning French.

I'd advise to anyone studying for their undergraduates to definitely work part-time (even for just a few hours on a Saturday) just to get some work experience. It is incredible how much employers value this and it has definitely helped me receive job interview offers recently.

Studying for my GCSEs at a college in Norfolk has been an eye-opening experience, too. I am challenged in ways that I never thought I could be challenged! In April I was writing my dissertation - last night I was creating chemical reactions in a laboratory like Victor Frankenstein himself!

So, future graduates, I advise to plan for the future as much as possible and keep your chin up. Keep smiling :-)

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