Wednesday, 28 May 2014

How Lucky I Am

'How lucky i am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard'
So here I am. The final days of university. I have come to the end of the most important experiences of my life. The end of the degree that changed my life forever. The end of the degree that led to this blog. To the young woman I am today (Okay it feels weird calling myself that). This post is dedicated to the past three years of my life. They have been the most challenging, difficult and greatest ones yet. I have learnt so much about myself and the person I want to be. I've learnt the true meaning of strength, bravery and aspirations. 
Three years ago my parents left me in York in my new student halls. The first thing I did was cry. I cried for about 10 minutes on my new bedroom floor. Devastated my parents had left me and too afraid to discover what was beyond my bedroom door. Eventually I picked myself up off the floor, wiped away any evidence I had been crying and forced myself against my will to head into the kitchen and meet my new flatmates. And so my journey began.
3 years ago, all packed up and ready to head to university
First year for me was my worst. It wasn't the work load nor the strain from living away from home that ruined it. It was my flat. From day one there was a divide between the 12 of us. Me and 3 of my flatmates got on like a house on fire. We were what we considered normal, enthusiastic students. The other half of my flat grouped together and made the total of 6 months living in student halls hell. You think if you keep to yourselves and stay out of the way you'd be overlooked and left alone? How wrong we were. We were tormented to the extent  that yes, you could class it as bullying. Standing outside our rooms intimidating us in the middle of the night so we were too afraid to come out, making nasty comments and jokes at our expenses in the kitchen and stealing food and drink from us. The list is endless. I came away from my first year of university defeated. Asking myself how could I continue for the next two years if this is what university really was.
First year fun
First year fun, course friend turned housemate
I look back and wish I could tell first year Laura to hold tight. Things will get better and all those nights crying herself to sleep will seem so silly now. 
I would be lying if I said I wasn't slightly satisfied watching my tormentors turn out the way they did. First year of university taught me that what goes around really does come around. I forgive them for their twisted games. Jealousy got the better of them and I hope one day they look back and learn from the choices they made. I also thank them for being so cruel. They pushed and pushed us to strive for better and to be braver. I watched my flatmate become the fierce and confident young woman she is today because of them. She beat her bullies by rising above them. I always tell her she inspires me to be as strong as she is.
Forever regretting first year fashion choices on a night out
Second year was definitely one of my favourites. Myself and my 3 flatmates moved into a student house, 15 minutes from campus and 15 minutes from town. We threw ourselves into student living with house party after house party. We ventured out to places we never had before and began to find our feet. I found new interests that I never knew I had and I let shine the dreams I had once held so tightly and trapped away, never to disrupt the peace and path that had been set out for me to follow. I found inspiration from new modules, new people and new discoveries. We had really got to grips with the city, had 'favourite places' and 'the worst places.' It really felt like home. Yes, things weren't always so great. Our degrees got harder, boys got meaner, people we thought we could trust turned against us. We began as a house to drift from one housemate in particular. Issues rose that made it impossible for us to live together. That was another low point. Breaking up from a friendship you thought you could survive is hard. Once again I am grateful it happened. It brought me closer to my housemates that I did get on with and it made me very certain of myself and who my real friends were.
Fancy dress - another aspect I will miss

Another highlight of second year is this blog. Letting my dreams sneak out of my mouth was the greatest thing I did. It led me to a knew career path, one that I had told myself I'd never achieve for so long. And with this my blog was created. 
Welcoming our new housemate and ready for new beginnings
Third year was my hardest. Those who have followed my blogging journey know I have fought some real battles this year. Academically and personally. I lost a close family member causing both my degree and myself to suffer immensely. I lost myself for a while. I don't know where I went but I was numb and forever walking in a grey cloud. I was a robot walking around completely absent. It was almost like watching myself behind glass. Some days were fine and other days I'd find myself sat in a library toilet cubicle crying my eyes out.  Eventually I picked myself up, dusted myself down and ran back into the battle. I came back swinging and gave it all I got. Knowing you have so little time left makes you so determined to leave your mark and make the most of it. I do not want to relive my worst days but I am grateful once again because they were the drive I needed. The final push was down to them. In this third year I have appreciated every single moment. Knowing I had little time left in such a crucial and beautiful atmosphere made me cling as tightly as I could. I reflect on these three years and admire the changes and the things I did. I learnt it really is okay when things go tits up. I worked hard but it didn't pay off. It stung and I cried (I cry an awful lot) and I almost gave up. I almost refused to continue. What was the point? Once again, I'd go back a few months, slap myself and tell myself to suck it up and get your shit together. Life is no walk in the park but it will eventually at some point, maybe not not and maybe not for a long time, work out.

My housemates
The dream team
Those three are my world. Knowing all three of them since day 1 of my time in York and having them sit by me on every adventure makes me almost feel sorry for those who have not known and experienced what I have. I feel rich in friends around them. They're the kind of girls who if I came home and told them my new dream is to join the circus, they would reply with 'Amazing! Where can we sign up for tickets to watch your first show?!' Every new adventure, scheme, plan, wish and dream they have encouraged me to do.
Friends from home have told me how much the envy my close relationship with these girls. Many friends have come and gone but these three have always remained. We even joke that we're 'the unit' as we do EVERYTHING together and it is rare that we are seen with out each other. It's become quite a spectacle to those outside of our house.
 They would always be there laughing with me. In times of crisis they are quick to defend me from my demons, bring me tissues and chocolate in times of sadness and come running in with their shields and swords when there was a spider in my room. In the words of Taylor Swift, I had the time of my life fighting dragons with them. 

University of York

What a place to grow. I would recommend York to anyone in a heartbeat. Placed in a beautiful city and so culturally strong, it's an adventure waiting to be discovered. I have watched so many people find themselves in this place. Things may not always be shiny and perfect, the university may have it's flaws but doesn't everything? York creates an instant community between students. Being here has always made me feel like I am part of something. There is something for everyone. The opportunities are incredible and the people you meet will leave you in awe. I have been taught by some of the most inspiring and intelligent academic minds I have ever met. I feel blessed to be sat in a lecture hall being taught by someone who has left a major stamp in not only the academic world but on society. Some have intimidated me with the their intellectual minds, some have baffled me with their insane but logical outlook on society and others have seen things in me that I could not see myself. My dissertation supervisor being one. This is awfully cringy to write but he really inspired me in not only my dissertation but the areas in life I want to work in. He's the kind of person you could sit in a cafe and listen to his specialized knowledge all day long. So for him I am grateful.
University confirms to me that I will miss learning. York smashed the barrier that I didn't even know existed. I feel like I have barely scratched the surface in terms on my course. I feel like there is still a whole world out there left to learn. I have this fear once I leave uni my brain will turn to slush and fall out my ears as it will no longer be challenged in learning. 
From the lecturers to the lectures to campus itself, I will miss it all. In times of stress my friends and myself have often walked around campus, full of wildlife and found peace once more. It's like living in one big garden everyday for three years....the only downside being the slightly aggressive geese.

For me university wasn't what I thought it was going to be. However this is the same case for most of my friends from uni and from home. It wont be the party central rave you think it will be. It will be emotionally draining, mentally challenging and at some point, probably the worst time of your life. Yet that isn't to say you wont enjoy it. For every dark moment there is an equally uplifting, inspiring, hilarious, life changing moment to equal it. Yes I have really had some bad times at uni but at the same time I have also had the best. I have sat with my housemates laughing at the daily disasters we each endured, giggled with lecturers at my inability to understand what on earth I'm doing, huddled under blankets with my housemates too afraid to spend money on heating, stuck pans under the leaky ceilings of our 'quirky' student house whilst questioning whether we'll survive the night, taken late night trips to McDonalds drive through in my pyjamas, said 'Okay just one more drink' and woken up on my bedroom floor with no memory, sat in a bathtub throwing shampoo bottles at spiders, been regularly chased by campus ducks and geese, laughed so hard I cried... I could really go on. I often pitied the rest of the world when I was crying with laughter with my friends because the rest of the world were not me living that moment right there, feeling invincible. One moment of happiness at uni made all those darker days so worth it. 

I don't know where I'll be in 6 months time. Heading back home after these last three years feels like such a step backwards. I remember being 10 minutes away from campus sat in the back of my dads car feeling so afraid. Wishing the seat would swallow me whole and never let me enter campus. It's incredible that something I would have given anything to never enter is now something I'd give anything to never leave. I almost wish I could appear in the car next to 'just about to begin' Laura, tell her everything really will be okay and show her the amazing person she is going to become. She's unrecognizable to me now.  
Someone recently said to me 'It's just bricks and mortar, it's the memories that go with you'. I will always have a special place in my heart for all the happy memories from university. I know there will be days when the longing to relive them will almost be too overwhelming. However I will always know how spoiled I was in my experiences.

Oh York how I will miss you 
p.s. I hope you didn't cringe reading this as much as I did writing it...sob story or what?!
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