There and Back Again: June-August 2013

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You didn’t really think you’d heard the last of me, did you?

Along with two of my former Saint colleagues – Caitlin and Ryan – I am going to be giving you a taste of what post-graduation life is like, starting with this first post, in which I will recount what I’ve been doing since departing St Andrews in June.

Kazan 2013

To some extent my aim has been to try to cope with PTSD (post-Thrones stress disorder), the depression following that wedding and the realisation that there’s no more episodes until spring 2014.

Aside from re-reading the series, I’ve found the best coping mechanism is keeping busy, starting on the very same day as I graduated (27 June).

Yes, I was tapped on the head by Ming Campbell, received confirmation of my degree, said my goodbyes and then rushed to catch a train to London.

This was in order to catch a plane to Russia, as I had been selected as the student media officer for Team GBR at the World University Summer Games in Kazan.

This role involved stockpiling media information, dealing with interview requests and press releases, sourcing photos, keeping the GBR social media ticking over, compiling a daily internal newsletter and helping out with miscellaneous tasks in GBR HQ.

Ultimately, though, it boiled down to watching a lot of sport.

As well as witnessing the closing moments of Andy Murray’s Wimbledon triumph in a room packed with GBR athletes, coaches and HQ staff, I was responsible for covering sports as varied as badminton, football and shooting.

Badminton and shooting provided some great moments – Peter Briggs and Harley Towler (both Loughborough University) coming within a few points of defeating Russian Olympians in the former, Michael Bamsey (University of South Wales) making the 10m Air Rifle final alongside the best of China and Russia in the latter.

GoalcelebrateBut it was football which brought GBR its standout medal successes and provided some unforgettable memories for all involved.

The men’s team defeated hosts Russia on penalties – a match witnessed by Russia national manager Fabio Capello – to make the final, where they were edged out by France despite coming from two goals down to force extra time. A very well-deserved silver medal.

The women’s side went one better, defeating Brazil twice and Ireland 8-0 in their route to the final, where they met Mexico. The match stood at 2-2 until the final 10 minutes, when GBR went goal-crazy and won it 6-2, thus sealing gold.

It was a pleasure for me to witness all of the teams’ matches, savour the terrific atmospheres generated by passionate crowds and bombard Twitter with updates on the drama and exhilaration.

As if I wasn’t privileged enough to have spent three weeks covering top-quality sports, I also had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of walking into a stadium full of cheering Russians for the opening and closing ceremonies, waving my Union Flag and smiling like a goon on live television.

Back to Edinburgh

As you might expect, there was something of a comedown returning to the UK after three weeks at the second biggest multisport event in the world (only the Olympic Games involves more countries and competitors).

Luckily, however, there were only 10 days between coming back from Russia and starting a job in Edinburgh – since the end of July I’ve been working as a gallery attendant for the National Galleries of Scotland.

The job combines security and visitor service. In practical terms that means coming down hard on rucksacks and visitors touching paintings (I’m genuinely puzzled by people who think it’s OK to prod a multimillion-pound Van Gogh), as well as pointing the way to the toilets, the exit or occasionally, just occasionally, some of the art.

The Galleries’ showpiece summer exhibition is ‘Peter Doig: No Foreign Lands’, featuring works by the Scottish-born artist, and it has done pretty well I think.

The other thing which I’ve done with the Galleries is volunteering with their Press Office. So far my primary concern has been processing Galleries-related press cuttings and other bits of news, and I’m looking forward to how my role may develop over the coming weeks.

That’s you up to date with my graduate life so far. Look out for another post in the not-too-distant future for more of what I’ve been up to and some future plans.

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