Life of a Fourth Year


For those closest to me, my opening revelation will come as quite a shock: I am writing this newspaper column from the confines of our University library (ground floor: through the gates, turn right, and weave left to the corridor by the windows – you know where I am).  Yes, I am spending my Easter break ploughing through the discussion of my dissertation, sharing the building with a handful of other monochrome figures, each with their own larger-than-life work space; typing furiously at computers, headphones plugged in, and caffeine to hand.

That’s beside the point. I have spent so may hours in the library this week that I have most certainly surmounted the previous sum total of hours spent here during my entire university career. In fact, I couldn’t sign on to the library internet, and upon approaching the IT help desk, the perplexed assistant opened with ‘Mmm strange, have you managed to log in successfully in the past?’.  A wall of red slapped me across the face as I make the horrendously embarrassing admission that I had never even attempted to sign in. Masking a knowing smile, he subsequently tapped on a few magical buttons and enabled my first ever library internet browsing experience. Yikes.  I felt so defeated that I did not even dare to try and persuade him that I do actually study, but just from the comfort of my own sofa.

From my desk I can glimpse through a break in The Scores to the grey North Sea.  I am reminded of a quote by Olivier Sarkozy which goes: ‘One of the things I learned to love while staying in St Andrews was the colour grey’. I could not agree more with the Frenchman’s words, as my week long stint with a sea-view seat has certainly accustomed me to the colour. The grey interior décor of the eggshell walls complements the speckled carpets, and is mirrored outside by the wet sleet raining down from the supposed spring heavens.  The grey distraction soon becomes hypnotic and focuses my attention to writing an impressive chunk of my dissertation. It seems like forever ago that I was sitting amongst the folds of the Canadian Rockies, watching the fluttering of minute hummingbirds as they worked effortlessly to complete my scientific experiments.

The month-long hiatus that has marked the The Saint’s ‘Easter break’, has possibly been the most reflective time spent during my life as a fourth year. On occasion, the grey abyss rises, revealing moments of light. The sun shone for approximately 47 minutes the other day, allowing for my mind to wander from the page: my thoughts flickered between memories of past summers, to the start of my last academic year and thinking I had all the time left in the world, right through to the more recent graduate applications and graduation day bookings – think gown hire, hotel stays, and dinner reservations.  My mind was on overdrive as I attempted to imagine where I shall be a year from now. My internet browsing (thank you, IT desk) has open several dozen web pages full of exotic and wonderful gap year opportunities ranging from teaching English in the most remote corners of Thailand, to spending a year on horseback in the Australian outback, mucking in with gruelling ranching work (where perhaps I’d finally find my Hugh Jackman).

The sun soon becomes engulfed by grey, and my mind reverts back to dissertation mode…

An update: For all of the woes of past column entries, my plans for life after graduation are at long last beginning to take shape. Upon my qualifying with a TEFL degree over the summer, I have been accepted onto a teaching internship in the Kanchanaburi province of Thailand, beginning August of this year.  Having never really considered Asia as a gap year destination, I am beginning to excite at the thought of exploring such an interesting, diverse and novel continent.  And if teaching cute kids whilst on my way comes as part of that deal, then sign me right up. Dividing up the remainder of my year, I hope to return to Africa and begin work with a handful of the fantastic charities and organisations set up there, before finishing my time further devouring South America (Mia, be sure to save me a room wherever you settle!).



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