University library

For thousands of students, the clock is slowly ticking down towards the final days of their University experience; after three years (or four in the U.S.) of freedom and irresponsibility masquerading as life experience, it is time to step back and, for one final time, appreciate the little things that students across the country will have to give up as they take the step into adult life.

Having lived in Cardiff, UK, for the best part of four years, it is only now I’ve started to realize the many wonders of my adopted city. From the eclectic range of cafes and restaurants dotted around the city to the wondrous countryside surrounding it, I am suddenly filled with a burning urge to experience as many of the treats the city offers as possible. As a student, it is crucial to take the time now, before life accelerates into adulthood, responsibility and beyond, to appreciate your surroundings and explore them as fully as possible.

With the final days of university comes the end of your student card; perhaps the most frequently flashed piece of plastic you own, it unlocks precious discounts in McDonalds, Topshop and numerous other stores. It gets you drinks discounts in clubs and generally, throughout your formative years, acts as validation for all sorts of unwise and unjustifiable purchases; that £15 top? Well, now at only £13.50, it’s an essential buy. With the end of your student card comes the realization that you must be sensible and mature in your financial decisions from now on. So whilst you can, use that piece of plastic just once more. Make those crazy consumptions now, whilst the recklessness of youth allows it. Be free now, before the suit and tie of convention constraints you from all those things that student life makes acceptable.

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Beyond this, I’ve found it important to enjoy every part of student life as it comes to a close; not just the late mornings and the endless hangover days, but even the studying, the lectures and the free debate of seminar rooms. I never thought I’d be appreciative of the long, meandering days spent library-bound pouring over seemingly irrelevant journals and academic articles, but it is now that I appreciate the value of each hour studying, and the fact that in future, this luxury shall not be available to me.

On reflection, it is important to remember that you are leaving an institution in which you can make mistakes, free of judgment. A place you can study and practice and develop in a way that you can’t upon entering the real world. So it’s not so much about savoring the last three years of your university life, but about taking those experiences and lessons from your time at college and using them in whatever career you pursue, whether that be the sciences, technology, public relations, counseling, or engineering. As clichéd as it may sound, leaving University is not the end of a journey, but instead it should be seen as the start of the next stage of life, as scary and impossible as that sounds. My three years have not been about leaving University, but have been about preparing myself for life after University, and all that entails.

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So, crucially, I feel that by the time I walk free from my final exam, a month to this day, I know that I will be ready to walk on to the next challenge in my life, happy in the knowledge that I have, to the best of my ability, embraced and enjoyed all aspects of University; living alone, studying independently and forging a life away from my home and my family. All that I’ve learnt over this period of my life will be crucial in helping along the next steps in my journey. This journey, much like my time at University, will not always be entirely comfortable or easy, but I am certain that it will be every bit as challenging, enjoyable and rewarding. And that, I guess, is the purpose of University, and making sure that you’ve got everything you can out of such a unique opportunity in life.