2013, places I’d like to be and things not to say (with thanks to DailyPost)


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I recently stumbled upon www.dailypost.wordpress.com, a site which provides prompts and challenges to inspire blog entries. Having been fastidiously hoarding their questions in my inbox for the past few months, I thought I’d have a go at answering some of the talking points which have most inspired me. Presumably, most people post a response every day, but for us busy types who don’t have chance to blog that regularly, hopefully this’ll suffice – the sentiment remains the same! Look out for more posts of this ilk to come shortly…

Where were you when 2012 turned into 2013? Is that where you’d wanted to be?

Courtesy of Google Images

Due to having Christmas off, I was working in the bar on New Year’s Eve. Having spent the evening with my brother, sister, their respective partners, my nephew and my mum, I dashed off to serve the thirsty population of Colchester. We stopped serving for a 25-minute period over midnight, allowing us to see in 2013 with our own glasses of cava and to rile the waiting customers who thought it necessary that we spend the countdown pulling their pints.

With my boyfriend in Liverpool, there was no midnight snogging for me. However, enjoying being amongst the revellers (albeit on the far less crowded side of the bar) was quite a welcome change to something I always perceive as a bit of a let down; NYE is a celebration which causes entry price uphikes and severely increases your risk of being elbowed, Cosmo in hand – and for that reason, I never particularly relish nights during which a new year chimes in.

Thus, when 2012 became 2013, I was stood in the Slug kitchen, shouting down my iPhone to my partner who was 260 miles away at a DJ night. Like a soppy fool, I spent a good half a minute yelling “I love you baby!” over and over, before I realised that if all I could hear was bass from his end, the same was probably true vice versa. So we resorted to texting, that good old romantic means of communication (Romeo and Juliet wouldn’t have been half as tragic if they’d shared the odd iMessage), and happily went on with our separate nights.

My celebratory drinking came after we’d shut the bar around 2ish, and found one of the only venues still open in Colchester. And sure, I felt sorry for their staff (especially since we didn’t leave until closing at 4.45am!), but I’m sure the additional pay softened the blow a bit.

So, despite it always being couple-central on New Year’s, I actually had quite a fun night – as, I’m reliably informed, did the boyfriend. Sometimes it’s not about spending midnight with your tongue down your beloved’s throat; it’s about shouting incoherently down the phone at them it’s about enjoying the atmosphere with friends, and enjoying the fact that you didn’t have to pay to get into the bar…

What’s the one thing you hope other people never say about you?

Courtesy of Google Images

It’s not often that I’m concerned by other people talking about me – as Oscar Wilde once said, “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about” and that’s a statement I try to live my life by. However, we all harbour dreams about how others perceive us and have insecurities which we hope others fail to pick up on. Personally, I hope that no one thinks of me as disloyal or fake; I aspire to be true to myself and a supportive and considerate friend at all times.

Invent a holiday! Explain how and why everyone should celebrate.

Courtesy of Google Images

For a long time, I’ve had a speech prepared for anyone who has the misfortune of mentioning grandparents around me. I strongly believe that considerable enrichment is offered by spending time with your grandparents, and I am lucky enough to still have both of my mum’s parents around to chat to.

When you’re a child, it is all too easy to think of visiting the oldies as a bit of a chore and to consequently miss out on the perspectives of a different generation. Being regaled with stories about your own parents’ youth and being taught skills which ma and pa might be too busy to have educated you in (scone-making and blackberry-bush picking in my case) is a source of enjoyment all round.

So, if I were to create a public holiday, it would be one which honoured grandparents – a day in which you could be shocked by tales of the war, when they could tell you all about where they grew up, or when you could remember those you’d lost, and look fondly on the times you’d spent with them and all they’d taught you.

A sanctuary is a place you can escape to, to catch your breath and remember who you are. Write about the place you go to when everything is a bit too much.

Courtesy of Google Images

Anyone who knows me relatively well could answer this; my sanctuary is, hands down, the bath tub. Preferably my own and only ever someone else’s if they’ve not heard of my 6-hour, water-bill rocketing baths, Lush products have made me an even more committed tub-dweller (So White’s my favourite, if you’re asking) and the addition of an engrossing book or something good on iPlayer is reason enough for me to hole up in there for half a day.

What question do you hate to be asked? Why?

Courtesy of Google Images

To me, conversation is the greatest way to spend one’s time. Even above writing, I prefer to talk to people about their ideas, their opinions, their dreams, their regrets, their lives. And, considering I talk at the rate of knots and have a tendency to fill out my anecdotes with irrelevant and unnecessarily long details, it’s not often that someone asks me a question which makes me feel ill at ease.

If I had to choose a question which makes my heart sink a little, it would probably be when people ask about my university and whether or not I enjoyed it. To reflect negatively makes me feel ungrateful for the opportunities UCL afforded me and it is an inaccurate report of my time spent studying there. However, I forced myself to stick at a course which I didn’t enjoy, for the sake of obtaining my degree and fulfiling plans I’d made with a friend who couldn’t see them through. Looking back, I would probably change the discipline I studied, though linguistics taught me many things which I’d have been unlikely to come across otherwise. And perhaps that’s what university is meant to do – educate you with experiences you’d not have had without studying at a higher level.

To most people, I try to explain my reasons for having had an unusual university experience which didn’t lead to me binge-drinking and eating out-of-date pizza (well, until my third year!) as student stereotypes dictate. However, when asked about my degree in interviews or on application forms, I find it hard to describe my time at UCL without seeming spoilt and excessively critical. It’s not a subject I relish being asked about, but it’s one I understand the sentiment behind.

Still, I try to find positives in everything I do, and although I can’t speak altogether glowingly of my time at university, the three years I spent there taught me a huge amount – in both academic and personal contexts. I’m thankful for having been to UCL, for everyone I met whilst there and – when I was starving – I was even grateful for the mouldy spinach and ricotta pizzas.

If you were asked to spend a year living in a different location, where would you choose and why?

© Alisha Riseley

Seeing as I’m hoping to move back to London next month, I’ve been dwelling a lot recently on where I’d like to live in the future. Though a born and bred ‘townie’, cities are where I feel most at home; to me, the wealth of opportunity and intellectual stimulation on offer in the city is dizzying, yet wonderful.

Not counting the Big Smoke though, if I were given the chance to live anywhere in the world, I’d choose New York. Having visited this September to celebrate my 21st, I can’t wait until my career takes me to the city that never sleeps and allows me to live in of of the most cosmopolitan places in the world. Though I was won over by the 24-hour delivery services of most takeout joints and the cultural acceptability of having someone else do your laundry and make your morning coffee, there is an indisputable vibrancy to New York which is unrivalled in my mind.

I adore London and am the first to champion it’s many eccentricities and delights, but New York is still widely recognised as the capital city of the world – and for good reason. I’m a pretty extroverted and impulsive person, and I try not to do anything by halves, so I think NYC would suit me to a tee!


Inspiring Indignation


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Last night, in a hotel nestled amidst the energy of New York City, benefit attendees honoured the incredible work of four people who do not aspire to be household names or to be given standing ovations by doting audiences.

For the four journalists whose work was the focus of the 2012 International Press Freedom Awards, the ceremony was a nod of recognition to the plights and achievements that their careers have led them to. I have no doubt that reverence among their colleagues means a great deal more to those in receipt of yesterday’s awards than million-pound pay checks; given that reporting is often a thankless profession with unsociable hours and pitiful salaries, I expect the winners want words – not wealth – to be their legacies.

This year, the Committee to Protect Journalists has chosen to acknowledge the following awardees for their courageous acts in the name of documenting the truth: Azimjon Askarov, Mae Azango, Mauri König and Dhondup Wangchen. Each of them has had a unique and sickening encounter with oppression by corrupt authorities, but all of them share an unwavering bravery which has shone through their coverage of injustices that they felt the world should know about, and duly reported on with no second thought to the repercussions they would later face. For each of the four journalists being honoured at last night’s Waldorf Astoria dinner, informing others about national travesties was so paramount that they sacrificed their own liberties as a consequence of speaking out against the state. I implore you to read the articles hyperlinked to their names above; their stories are so harrowing that other sources better explain their experiences than I could ever hope to.

In a survey published this September, 79.2% of the 1500 journalists polled by MediaAct stated that they felt most responsibility towards their own conscience. Perhaps that is unsurprising, given that journalism seems to attract those who have questionable notions about right and wrong by other peoples’ standards (one only need look at public reaction to evidence turned up by the Leveson enquiry), but who have a strong sense of moral obligation to communicate facts that might otherwise remain unknown – there are not many careers in which doorstepping recently-bereaved parents and rifling through the refuse of shifty MPs are deemed acceptable ways to spend your working day.

As with any witch hunt, everyone in the spotlight is a suspect. Despite the aims of the Leveson enquiry being fundamentally investigative, it has cast a shadow over an entire industry and given ammunition to those who love to slate the press (such as chief pitchfork-bearer Hugh Grant and his celebrity buddies). And now, those who felt a calling to journalism are waiting with baited breath to see if we can regain the esteem of our former audiences and go back to believing that our conscience is dependable enough to answer to.

I would love to think that any reporter in the position of Azango, Wangchen, Askarov or König would do the same as they did, that they would feel so strongly about getting other peoples’ voices heard that they would be willing to forego their own freedom of speech. That is an idealist view though, and one that would mean that the achievements of the 2012 CFJ’s prize winners are dismissible – a travesty in itself. Moral conscience is subjective and it is clear that those who have attained an International Press Freedom Award (in previous ceremonies as well as this year’s) have a sense of duty which is far less marred by egocentricity than that of the typical person. Those willing to risk their own safety and independence are truly deserving of recognition for their sheer selflessness, and they should receive a separate award for the quality of their thought-provoking journalistic contributions and the actions they have brought about.

Since news of the phone-hacking scandal first broke, journalists have learnt – perhaps rightfully – to keep their heads down in debates about morality. From a consumer’s perspective, it is easy to tar all reporters with the same brush and to decry the institutions that condoned the hacking of phones belonging to the likes of Sara Payne and Prince William, accusing such organisations of ruthless and underhand tactics of which they should be ashamed. However, while many reporters go to great lengths to get a scoop, not all are heartless enough consider violation of Milly Dowler’s voicemail ‘within the line of duty’; those journalists honoured at yesterday’s ceremony employed a different class of eyebrow-raising methods, waiving anonymity and writing off their emotional (and physical, in the case of in Askarov, Dhondup and König) trauma as collateral damage, necessary in order to tell the world about the miscarriages of justice they had witnessed.

Last night’s awards dinner also honoured the incumbent editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, whose lifetime achievements were recognised with the Benjamin Burton Memorial Award. A champion of publishing public interest stories, Rusbridger’s time at The Guardian has assisted the broadsheet in becoming one of the UK’s most well-respected and reliable newspapers. While he is fortunate enough not to be imprisoned like Dhondup and Askarov, Rusbridger’s commitment to a free press and his belief in the right to report has shaped the face of modern journalism and The Guardian, under his leadership, has been the mouthpiece of many stories that have exposed judicial failures and misplaced sanctions.

In 2011, as an aspiring reporter, talking about my ambitions was consistently met with questions about whether or not I would accept a job at the then-existing (though already disgraced) News of the World; I suspect such a reaction was familiar to many newspaper employees last year, when Operation Weeting began and the Leveson enquiry opened. The phone-hacking controversy has, fittingly, dominated headlines since it broke, and the media industry looks set to stay the centre of attention for a while yet, especially with the onslaught of celebrity paedophilia allegations. Journalism seems to have been the playing field for many a scandal, but I am tired of apologising for my passion; fundamentally, reporters are individuals who believe that the public benefit from hearing stories that might go unheard of without them – and there is nothing sinister in wanting to speak up for others.

Glenn Mulcaire and Rebekah Brooks may have temporarily tarnished the reputation of journalism, but those who won last night’s International Press Freedom Awards epitomise everything that is admirable about reporting, and it is those people who will restore faith and trust in the industry. In order to distance ourselves from Hackgate and reclaim our right to pass judgements about morality, the achievements of Rusbridger, Dhondup, König, Azango and Askarov should be aspired to; journalists should covet a byline on tomorrow’s front pages, not their faces being splashed across them.


To sign the petitions which ask the responsible authorities to free Dhondup Wangchen and Azimjon Askarov, click on the following:



Misogyny, bullying, racism – you have a reprieve (for now) – we’re standing up to cancer.


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This isn’t going to be one of my long, rambling posts, partly because I have to entertain a two-year-old tearaway tomorrow, but mostly because I don’t profess to know anywhere near enough to write a detailed piece on this subject. However, given that I’m watching Channel 4’s ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ programme (along with a fair amount of UK-based Twitter users, from the looks of London’s trends), I thought I may as well be topical.

I am one of the extremely lucky few whose family hasn’t been affected by cancer. If the 1 in 3 statistic is accurate, then I am either fortunate to have been born into a gene pool which is less susceptible to the disease (I appreciate that evidence surrounding such a disposition is tenuous), or several of my relatives are unaware that they are living with a life-threatening illness.

Due to the fact that I haven’t known anyone personally with a cancer diagnosis, I am completely oblivious to most of the issues and hardships faced by those who have. I don’t profess to have encountered anything as heartbreaking as a loved one being told they have a terminal form of the disease, but I am still harrowed by the VTs in which people affected by cancer are baring their souls to the television-watching public, in the hope of raising money for medical advances. I can’t imagine how they must feel – not only those with prognoses themselves, but their spouses, parents, children – or how they could possibly find the strength to come to terms with something so despairing and utterly terrifying.

I don’t want to make sweeping generalisations, but it’s hard to imagine a modern society which hasn’t heard of cancer. The abundance of research, numerous charities and multitude of first-hand experiences make it difficult to comprehend how little was known about the illness, right up until the last century which saw massive advances in understanding, identification and treatment. Now, we are more informed than ever, and on the brink of crucial therapy breakthroughs; now, a cancer diagnosis doesn’t mean that the disease will inevitably kill you.

Programmes, such as ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ (and those in the same vein – ‘Children in Need’ and ‘Comic Relief’, I’m looking at you), give us all a chance to donate through secure means, whilst ensuring that every single penny goes towards their cause. For those of us who are lucky enough not to see the daily devastation caused by cancer, shows such as these force us to realise the pain that others are enduring as a result of this condition. It may be tempting to switch over when those heart-wrenching accounts are played, but the nation’s increased understanding – not just of cancer’s physical impact, but also of the emotional toil it causes – is beneficial to everyone. I don’t have a statistic to back it up, but I would be willing to bet that a larger proportion of donations are given during or immediately following those VTs, than those pledged during sketch show specials.

Tonight, Channel 4 has been forward-thinking in its broadcast of a new programme which uses the hyperactive presenter(s)/personal appeals/celeb performances format, not to mention extremely brave to do so in the unstable economy. Projects such as these require an enormous amount of organisation, negotiation and dedication – all of which only pays off if people actually donate to the cause in question.

Those who watch these programmes for entertainment purposes (by which I mean the one-offs of ‘8 Out of 10 Cats’ and the like) but fail to pledge money are, in my opinion, despicable. Anyone who is able to afford the annual licence fee has the means to make a donation; anyone who doesn’t should simply not be permitted to watch such shows. At the risk of sounding like Davina McCall, no sum is too small and (sue me, Tesco) every little helps.

So pick up your phones – 0300 123 4444 – or head to http://su2c.channel4.com/ to make a pledge through debit/credit card or PayPal. They can’t make it any easier to donate but, by giving to this incredible cause, we can make it easier for sufferers the world over, by showing that we care about clinical trials and we will stand up to cancer.

As Time Passes


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Seven Years Later

The seventh anniversary of the 7/7 bombings seems to have passed London by, buried under the avalanche of sporting and weather-related headlines which dominated last weekend’s papers. Not that Andy Murray and the flash floods didn’t deserve their moments in the limelight but… Well, they didn’t.

Tennis and torrential rain may have been monopolising the collective thoughts of the UK recently – and far be it from me to halt the patriotic bandwagon by belittling the chances of Britain’s latest ‘almost-but-not-quite boy’ and suggesting conversation might focus on something other than summer downpours – but shouldn’t we be striving to remind people of events other than those outside their windows or being promoted by the BBC every 5 minutes?

Two of the best things about being British at this time of year are, without a doubt, having the God-given right to complain about the ‘uncharacteristic weather’ (so incredibly unusual is rain in July that it’s almost IN character), and Wimbledon fortnight: now Andy’s taken the reigns from Tim Henman, the UK population has added Union Jacks to their shopping baskets alongside the customary Pimm’s, and optimistically flown them for all to see – reaffirming their rose-tinted pride in home-grown talent. Thank goodness we always have a player waiting in the changing rooms, ready to instil Britain’s tennis junkies with another fix of false hope.

Without press coverage of events such as the septennial of the 2005 terrorist attacks on London, anniversaries like this can easily be overlooked. Whether or not you’re someone who has a head for dates, it’s likely that you forgot to pause for a minute to remember those who had their lives cut short, seven years ago last Saturday. Despite those bombings being far closer to home, as well as a stark reminder of how difficult it would be to stop another tragedy of that nature, 7/7 doesn’t appear to command the same significance as 9/11 – and that is to our detriment as a nation.

Not counting the bombers themselves, 52 lives were lost in the attacks that day, and more than 700 others were injured. Ordinary people using the public transport system to travel around London – the same way that 3 million of us do every day – who were in the wrong place as the wrong time, due to four England-based men who’d been influenced by Al Qaeda’s ideologies and were able to fashion deadly bombs under the radar of the Security Services.

The programme shown on BBC2 last Thursday, ‘7/7: One Day in London’ was one of the most powerful pieces of television I have ever seen. Narrated by the first-hand accounts of those who witnessed the attacks or their aftermath – many of whom had lost close relatives or were hurt directly in the bombings – Ben Anthony’s film enabled the viewer to hear from those who were most devastated by that day in July 2005. While providing an insight into the sequence of events, the programme also brought to light the initial confusion and chaos which engulfed TfL workers and the emergency services and, ultimately, the overwhelming acts of humanity and selflessness which led to many more victims living to tell their stories.

Whilst I don’t believe that we should only remember people on the date of their deaths, the anniversary of 7/7 is a fitting opportunity in which to pay homage to those killed that day, as well as the people who were injured and those who acted beyond courageously in the face of terror, pandemonium and anguish. It’s a time when, once a year, we can collectively pass on well wishes, offer a blessing or shed a tear for those who suffered a loss that day seven years ago.

A Very British Affair

Conscious that the above might have implied that I believe that sport should stay on the back pages, I thought I should confess my love of tennis. Whilst I’m not a particularly avid follower of many sports, there’s something about Djokovic and co. that enthrals me. Much as I wish I could say that it’s because I’ve got a fantastic forehand of my own, I’m a crap returner at best (blame the lack of hand/eye coordination) and haven’t set foot on a court in about 5 years.

Wimbledon is the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, commanding reverence among players due to it being both the longest-running Major and the only one still played on the original grass court surface. An abundance of quotes reveal how coveted an SW19 title is, with both Nadal and Djokovic referring to it as their favourite event, and Federer saying that winning the Championships is one of his ultimate annual dreams, along with ending the year as the World No. 1.

The many traditions associated with Wimbledon add to its esteemed reputation; from the predictable mid-match snack of strawberries and cream, to the Royal Family’s tendency to grace Centre Court, the tournament celebrates its innate Britishness – and with numerous rain delays causing interruptions to the games, it’s probably just as well that the London location is so renowned.

Upsettingly, certain aspects tarnish its reputability every year. Vulgar shouts from the stands and the lack of enforced dress code for observers completely degrade the tone of the Championships and showcase the British customs that we’d rather not beam around the world. This year’s coverage displayed crowd members falling asleep in the stands and shouting out untimely declarations of love for the players – actions which detract from the class with which lawn tennis is associated.

My question is, if we impose a code of conduct on the competitors and staff at Wimbledon, why can’t we extend this to audience members too? Prohibiting casualwear and banning those who distract players during matches – along with those who rhythmically (and infuriatingly) clap along with Hawk-Eye challenges in the hope of adding to the suspense – would ensure that we retain the prestige that Wimbledon commands, allowing us to present our best side to others in attendance, and those following the footage from around the globe. Similarly, disallowing those who choose to sleep or text as opposed to watching the match before them would also preserve the high esteem with which the tournament is regarded, as well as reinforcing the notion that watching lawn tennis live is a privilege and an occasion worth prizing, deserving of smart dress and adhering to proper etiquette.

Returning to the players, I should admit to being very traitorous in supporting Federer over Murray; I’ve been a fan of Roger for as long as I can remember and no one – not even Britain’s current racquet-wielding golden boy – can dampen my elation at his return to the top.  Widely regarded as the best man ever to play professional tennis, I am always astounded at Federer’s unfaltering nerve and extraordinary modesty, despite his record-breaking 17 career titles. His post-match interviews always reveal him to be exceptionally gracious and complementary towards his opponents, while his elegance on court is an absolute pleasure to watch.

Before anyone else accuses me of treason for being anti-Andy, I’ll explain my reasons. Murray lacks the charm and amiability which many players possess: from Tsonga’s charisma to Youzhny’s cheerful disposition, the British No. 1 is somewhat lacking in personality by comparison. Much as I’m overjoyed at listening to his monotonous conference room analyses (all the time reassuring us that he’s “getting better” and “playing well”), there’s something distinctly unlikeable about Murray. I’m not sure whether it’s his presumed inability to smile or else his displays of unsportsmanlike behaviour (such as his refusal to shake hands with Adel Aref, the umpire of his 2006 doubles match, after calling him a f***ing c**t), but forgive me if I wasn’t crying along with his tearful thank you speech on Sunday. Sure, it was nice to know that he’s equipped with emotional capacity – not that you’d ever guess from the tedious tone of his voice – but Andy’s disappointment didn’t tug on my heartstrings along with the rest of the nation’s.

The front pages of Monday’s national papers had just two images of Federer adorning them, while the vast majority went with photos of Murray weeping, alongside headlines akin to The Independent’s ‘Andy, we know how you feel’ and other sentiments which scarcely disguised the fact that he’d dashed British hopes for a fifth consecutive year. Only The i and The Guardian chose to show a jubilant Federer as well as Murray’s embittered expression, and a tweet by the BBC’s Hugh Sykes requesting that Wimbledon fans “rejoice in genius, not in 2nd place” [sic.] was republished by just two people – and one of them was me.

As newsworthy as his failure to win was, Murray did not deserve to be on those front pages – Roger Federer did. By triumphing at this year’s Championships, Federer equalised Pete Sampras’ record of seven Wimbledon singles titles and will become the player with the longest time as ATP World No. 1, surpassing Sampras on Monday when he begins his 287th week in the tennis top spot.

The American judge and politician Earl Warren once said “I always turn to the sports page first. The sports page records people’s accomplishments; the front page nothing but man’s failures” and, looking at Monday’s papers, it seems that he was very much correct. Sports have long resided on the back cover and I have no problem in keeping to this tradition. However, Wimbledon is a British tournament which we are (deservingly) privileged to host, and it is only right that we extend that pride to the champions produced by the tournament too. Federer may have crushed our home-grown competitor, but his gratitude and celebratory trophy-kissing should have been the image plastered across our papers, not those displaying Murray’s disappointment.



A New Chapter?


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…More Like a New Novel Altogether

It’s been 10 days since my university life reached its near-end (my official graduation ceremony isn’t until the end of August – talk about prolonging the final hurrah); having received my unit grades and degree classification, I am now completely absolved of UCL-related worries, be it in terms of marks, modules or memorising Gricean maxims.

I can honestly say that I am unbelievably excited about what comes next. My time at university has afforded me the opportunity to meet and befriend some wonderful people, whilst instilling in me the brisk walking pace of a London resident, a sense of pride whenever UCL appears in a league table’s top 10, and the ability to pull an all-nighter without the assistance of Red Bull or nicotine (coffee and rock music work far better).

But, never having been one to suffer ‘Peter Pan syndrome’, I’m still looking forward to finally ‘growing up’. Whether it’s entering the working world or embarking upon postgraduate study, I am genuinely fascinated by the paths my fellow graduands plan to take.

Admitting that I’m not sad to be leaving uni doesn’t mean that I’ve not enjoyed my time here; it simply means that I’m looking forward to the next part too. I felt exactly the same when I left school and college – eager to start the next adventure. Bring it on!

Results Angst

When it came to receiving my results last Monday, I strategically opted to go in two hours late, safe in the knowledge that most of my coursemates would have been unable to bear the anticipation any longer. The thing about academic grades is that EVERYONE wants to share and compare (whether you’ve burst into victory chant or averted your tearful gaze floorwards) – that’s brilliant for those happy to divulge, but it’s just not me. I’d much rather sneak off into a quiet corner to call my parents than enthuse about how clever we all are whilst also trying to console the person who’s marks reflect how often they were stoned during exam season. For those who want that, I hope they enjoy the high fives and heartfelt hugs, but I can’t say that the pressure to reveal your scores to classmates is included on my list of things I’ll miss about student life.

The time at which degree classifications are revealed is at the course administrators’ disposal, meaning that students from other disciplines are probably going to be drinking – either in celebration or commiseration – on a different date to you. Those from other institutions are likely to be months behind/ahead, leading to inter-university piss-ups being delayed until sometime in July, by which time the “no more term papers!” buzz is likely to have degenerated into incessant thoughts of “I should really get a job”, an infuriating hum which is impossible to ignore, much like a mosquito trapped in your bedroom at night.

So this poses something of a dilemma: do you suck it up and answer the “What d’you get?”s of your coursemates so that you have people to go out with upon receiving your results, or do you wait out the weeks until others are in a position to join you in degree-culminating intoxication?

I guess it depends on what sort of person you are – if you can teeth-grittingly engage in the embraces that follow every “How did you do?” from a classmate then not only do you have people to immediately head to the pub with, you’ll likely have enough confidence to get your results tattooed somewhere highly visible by the end of the evening, saving you from ever having to answer another question probing your academic prowess. Contrastingly, if you’re on my side of the fence, the day will go something like this: you’ll hide out for the morning until you can process your results alone, you’ll plan an almighty party for when everyone else has received their classifications, and use the evening to celebrate the end of your degree in the most outrageous way possible – by spending 4 hours in a cinnamon-scented bath.

A Parting Message

This article led to my true realisation of what the end of university meant. As well as her article being utterly heartfelt and far more personal that I could ever hope mine to be, I think Marina’s piece is utterly devastating – and her untimely death means that her message is all the more impressionable.

I can’t replicate Marina’s sentiment or desire to impress an optimistic message on the world, I can only direct you to her own writing and suggest that you consider what she says. Because, if you’re in the class of 2012 – be that graduating secondary school, sixth form or university – Marina’s message is what really matters. Leaving somewhere doesn’t mean losing everything we learnt and felt along the way, it doesn’t mean deliberating over the “what if”s, and it certainly doesn’t mean that the best years of our lives have passed. As much as we’ll miss the sense of belonging which first seduced us at enrolment, we should be just as impassioned by the thought of our futures – whatever they may hold – because there’s an abundance of good times yet to come.

In a world of sensational journalism and pessimistic tendencies, it becomes far too easy to concentrate on what is wrong in our individual lives. My suggestion today (though I hope it lasts more than a day) is to take a leaf out of Marina’s book: believe that the future is positive, that the world is a good place and, above all, believe that you can make a worthwhile impact.

Life isn’t about deliberating over our past regrets; it’s about enjoying every moment of the here and now. We’re here, unlike Marina Keegan, and that means we can make an impression. Let’s make it a good one, Class of 2012.