I am an English and Media student. Yes, yes, I’m doing an Arts degree (total waste of time and energy, I know). I am in my fourth year, after returning from a year of work placement thinking I was ready. Ready for the early starts and the attempts at improving my lecture attendance. I mean, I dragged my ass out of bed every morning for work, why is college any different? Except, it is different. It’s extremely different. You don’t have people depending on you to be there. I realised halfway through week one that this whole ‘golden week’ thing was just not feasible.
In fourth year, you go in expecting your previous three years to stand to you, and to be fully prepared for what should be another year of barely making deadlines, but, surprise, surprise, they start hammering on day one about your thesis (that you should have been working on for the past year but in reality, you don’t even remember your question). I certainly didn’t. I had to go to the office, tail between my legs, to get a copy of the piece of paper that I wrote MY thesis question on in my own handwriting. Or so they say…
I did my best to get back on track. Week three was a particularly fun week. We had a careers seminar on life after college. During this eye opening lecture, we were informed that our Arts degree qualified us for everything, and nothing, at the same time. Now, don’t think that this was news to anybody really, but we were holding out hope until the lecturer decided final year was the time to crush us. The best part was the lecturer having a good little laugh about this. Unsurprisingly people began filtering out of the room, myself included. Apparently, our best option is to continue on and become a teacher. Oh yes, welcome to the teaching world of no jobs and bad pay.
It was about week five when I was waiting for my girlfriend to meet me in college and a lovely woman started talking to me. She was a mature student in first year. She asked me what course I was doing, and what year I was in. I told her and she said, and I quote “Oh God, I’ve heard that fourth year Arts is really hard”. I nodded in agreement as a good polite Irish person does and continued on with my day. I told a few of my friends and we had a good laugh. However by now I have come to the realisation that they are called mature students for a reason. They know what they are talking about. I did not. She was an all seeing, all knowing being and five weeks in I wanted to curl up into a ball and be fed cake.
My social life? A distant memory. I thought that I would finish my college experience with a bang, playing beer pong and getting fresher drunk at least once a week. Alas it wasn’t meant to be. Even on the rare occasion when I’ve gone out, I’m nearly asleep before I have a pint in me. My friends are either also in fourth year or working, we don’t have time to be sociable. And when we try, we end up talking about how many assignments we’ve done, or haven’t done. This is always entertaining as it becomes a competition based on who has more work to do in the least time. My girlfriend usually wins, procrastination is her favourite game. I’m somewhat jealous of this, I’m pulling my hair out while she’s sat there reading articles on Facebook about a “Woman’s three week orgasm”.
Now, I hear you ask? Does it get better? It’s now the beginning of week ten and I am on at least one nervous breakdown a week and if I could afford enough alcohol to be an alcoholic I would be that too. Being a fourth year isn’t all bad, I mean the end is nigh, but that’s a pretty far away light in a very dark tunnel.