It feels as though I’ve blinked and all of a sudden, I am about to finish my degree at Swansea University and move onto, well, I don’t know what, yet! I am, of course, not the only student in the boat labelled ‘almost a graduate’. So, this is a piece for us who are about to head off into the wide, wild world (Bastille reference there), as well as for those students who have years left of their degree at this wonderful University.
Firstly, the variety of knowledge gained throughout our degree will stay with us undoubtedly forever, whether or not we head into jobs related directly to what we’ve dedicated three or four years to studying. It can be very easy to fall into the mind-set of “I’ve spent the past few years studying this subject but I’m not sure if I want a job in this field.” While, of course, we are at University primarily to earn a degree qualification, there is so much else involved with being a student – which I will come onto later – but it’s totally okay to change your mind about what you might or might not want to do after graduation.
Secondly, a year or a semester abroad: if you are a languages student, a year abroad is a compulsory part of your degree, and I would advise you to make the most of it in any way possible – travel lots, speak the language, eat new food, and just enjoy it. Therefore, this is my advice for any first or second year students – if you have the chance to study or work abroad, do it. You won’t regret it. Living, studying or working abroad will open your eyes and your mind and your heart to the whole world that is out there – you’ll have the chance to see new places, experience a different culture, and just broaden your horizons. Also, you might also be fortunate enough to wake up every day to such a spectacular view of Mont Salève, which is what I was so lucky to have done while I was studying in Geneva, and no view has ever lived up to that one.
Thirdly – the summer holidays. As students, we are very lucky in the sense that we get a lengthy summer break in between each academic year. What I’d say to those graduating this summer is first of all, if you can, give yourself a break because you’ve earned it. What I’d say to other students is to make the most of the summer holidays because having a lot of time off gives a lot of chances to try new things and get some work experience – volunteer (volunteering at music festivals is a fantastic experience, for example), take up a new hobby or travel.
Fourthly, the people! At University, we meet a huge variety of people. From the flatmates we’re thrown together with when we first arrive in Swansea as apprehensive freshers, to those we meet on our courses or in any sports clubs and societies that we choose to join. University is also where we form often really close bonds with friends we make. While some of us are soon leaving, it’s important to spend as much time with friends as we can and also to stay in touch afterwards – social media is a wonderful platform to do this on.
Finally, Swansea Student Media – I have written so much about my involvement with Student Media, and Waterfront in particular. I cannot emphasise enough how much I would recommend getting involved with Swansea Student Media. There is so much to learn and so much to experience, as well as so much to get involved with across all three media channels and it is never too late to get involved in one way or another. Also, you don’t need any previous experience. Personally, I’m going to look back at my time with Waterfront and SSM as perhaps the most positive and certainly most influential part of my time at Swansea University.
University is without a doubt a huge learning curve for all of us. Some of us are preparing to leave and enter the graduate life, while others will be returning in the new academic year. Make the most of every moment, make lots of memories and just enjoy it all. Life was made to be lived and as long as we are all doing what makes us happy, that is what counts. The many memories that I’m leaving with are countless and I shall cherish them forever. I’ve learnt a lot from my time here in Swansea and I will miss it enormously but also be able to reflect on it… Especially the beach – make the most of the beach, when the sun is shining!