Final year madness
We've seen her grow from a fresher to a final year student. Now, as Lily embarks on her third year of university as a Politics, Philosophy and Economic student, will she be able to balance her partying with the pressure of exams and a dissertation?
Lily worries that her partying days are over and finds herself wanting to squeeze every last drop out of the student experience.
Madness has descended over all the final year students I know. Something in us has snapped and we're determined to get everything we possibly can out of this year. There's something about trawling through endless graduate recruitment websites and watching your future spiral out of control that makes you grab life with both hands. One housemate has taken up skydiving, while another is becoming a Salsa obsessive. Another friend has taken up kissing boys, something he doesn't usually do. And I've been finding pleasure in wholesome family fun: road trips to English heritage sites, pub lunches and glitter glue.
Busyness is the key to denial about the looming future. Admittedly we have to face it someday (apparently) but to keep functioning now it's probably best to forget about it from time to time. Unfortunately it took us a while to figure that out. The first half of term passed by in a state of misery and lethargy. I spent hours in sterile campus cafeterias with my comrades dissecting the university's evil conspiracy against us. This conspiracy has a name. Its name is 'third year'.
Gone are the days of late nights
This ominous third year (aka final year, year of no fun and kick in the face) started taking its form in book bags, overdue library book notices and more coffee than is strictly normal. Then there was a key moment for us all; mine was in week five. As I found myself rubbing my eyes through the tenth minute of what was meant to be, according to my professor, 10 hours of weekly seminar preparation, I realised I had to get a grip. I didn't even need that amount of sleep in a week in my first year to get through all the lectures, reading and fancy dress.
So suddenly third year becomes your last chance to prove yourself. I gave my second year to Nouse the student paper, my first year to silliness and this year I have to fill in all the gaps. I want to roll down Clifford's Tower, drink in pubs I've never been to, crash first year parties, go to museums and take daytrips.
"All my wholesome weekend fun is turning me into a proper geek, but I'm throwing myself into my studies and really enjoying it."
During my last all-nighter on the editorial team for Nouse I made a to-do this year list and the ticks are multiplying. But for once as I play harder I work harder! It used to be that playtime just took up work time but now playtime is what makes work time easier. All my wholesome weekend fun is turning me into a proper geek but I'm throwing myself into my studies and really enjoying it, particularly if I've got a bag of broken biscuits and someone to pass inappropriate notes to.
Life after university
It's not all warm socks and nerdy trips, though. I've had a glimpse of the glitterati lifestyle. Last month the whole of last year's editorial team went down to London for the Guardian Student Media Awards. Several glasses of free champagne and one C-list celebrity host later we were named the second best student newspaper in the country.
With typical third year attitudes we've come back thinking: have done well, must do better. We're all back writing, reporting and looking back on a year of hard work considering our various goals and ambitions. After spending an evening mingling with lots of real-live-grownup journalists, or in my case physically walking into and blushing at Mr Alan Rusbridger Editor of The Guardian, it's difficult not to realise the competitiveness of such a sector. Particularly during, dare I say it, these difficult financial times.
All students are thinking long and hard about the looming prospect of unemployment but somehow I've still got itchy feet. I want to tick off my third year to-do list as quickly as I can and run off into the 'real world' to give it a go.
Well, almost. I want to go soon but not quite yet. I'm still a little sentimental about uni life and feel like an old hand at this student malarkey. Freshers should probably excuse me if I lay a work-ravaged hand on their shoulders and tell them to "make the most of it". They should also excuse me when me and my third year cronies bowl into their block and dance in the kitchen squealing that this was where we used to live. Those kids just don't know they've got it so good.