Last week was DH’s graduation, marking the end of his degree and our life in Canterbury. We were very excited for the excuse to visit the city we once knew and still love, basking in memories of cobbled streets and Sunday mornings in a coffee shop. Of course we were celebrating the future as well as harking back, after all, DH did achieve a First in his degree and win the International Relations Prize, whilst juggling his role as a stay-at-home-dad. DS and I are amazingly proud of him!
It is crazy how time flies, as the same day a year ago was my graduation. I love how DS is present in both our graduation pictures; whilst our faces remain the same with a difference of one year (or so I hope), DS has almost doubled in size. To my surprise, with a few adjustments to the elastic, DS’ trousers and waistcoat from a year ago still fit him.
So yesterday was my final day at work, the last of my excuses for being in Canterbury. No longer will I have to risk my life driving 40 minutes each way half asleep, only to sit in a dark room made of glass. Nor will I have an excuse to buy random objects in my lunch break, to receive odd looks when I return with a laundry basket, mop and a whole chicken.
With my ties to CCCU severed, it leave me with an odd feeling; I am not overjoyed, yet I am not completely saddened. Perhaps a little empty; after all, CCCU and Canterbury have played a large part in my life over the past four years. I have lived the student life, become a responsible parent, a wife, and a full-time worker all under the same setting.
After drinks with my colleagues, I had to say my farewells and make my journey back ‘home’. The sun was setting on my walk to the train station along the city wall, making Augustine House sparkle; a picturesque view I have mentally stored and taken back with me to dreary Gravesend.
My amazing husband achieved a remarkable First Class BSc Honours in Politics and International Relations today and I am ever so proud of him. I had it hard when I finished my degree, what with the birth of our baby boy during the Christmas break of my final year and managing to continue without taking time out. However, my husband’s experience proved even tougher.
During my final year and DH’s second year, DS only needed to be fed, changed and put to sleep; it was difficult but fairly manageable with dedication and team work. DS has topped that by single-handedly juggling the role of stay-at-home dad to a demanding toddler, whilst finishing his final year. I helped as much as I could when I was not posing as the breadwinner, but ultimately DH has had the bulk of DS’ upbringing. DS’ constant need for attention and play gradually lessened his available study time, so it has been a worrying few months for us.
I am so overjoyed that he has been awarded a First Class, not only for his academia, but for all his extraordinary effort. First Class father, husband and academic. He really and truly deserves it.
So another year has passed and the students are flooding in, except this year I am not joining them. It is such a strange feeling. Finishing over four months ago and acquiring a job since means I should have already come to terms with no longer being a student, and I have, it is just mentally letting go is harder than physically.
I suppose in my third year I was hardly living the typical ‘student life’. I do miss learning as geeky as it sounds, but that is not to say I do not appreciate the break. I am not sure I would have had the stamina to continue being a student/parent. Working now is definitely the best decision and it gives my brain a much needed rest. I like to think that one day I will return to education and study for a Masters degree, I am not completely ready to resign myself to the daily grind.
So tomorrow’s D-day; A-level results are made public, UCAS will be swarmed with students checking their university choices and our phones will be ringing off the hook. The past couple of days I have been processing thousands of acceptances and rejections on UCAS and it is amazing to think that one click of a button could dramatically alter someone’s life. I could have changed someone’s life for the better or worse two days ago and they would not have known it.
There has been a lot of talk lately focusing on the demand for more university places and how many applicants will be disappointed. I anticipate tomorrow is going to be manic. The BBC has released an article stating that Kent University is up 25% on applicants from last year; the only mention of Canterbury Christ Church University is at the bottom of the page (cheers for the publicity guys), but I can almost guarantee we will have just as many. What scares me is that I know that the majority of courses are already full, so when we get students crying to us down the phone desperate for a place, there is not much we can do.
I remember being eighteen and how tough it is having to make real choices that will actually impact the rest of your life. Regardless of how much you think you are grown up, independent and completely sussed, you are not completely ready. For some, they can continue living the dream; for others, it will be a rude awakening.