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How many times have people told you that university is the best time of your life? Next to being retired and sunning yourself in the garden most days, there’s no other age when everyone will think we haven’t got a care in the world. The social life, the independence, the lovely student loan; who wouldn’t be fooled into thinking we’ve almost certainly got it all. But how much is too much when it comes to living the student life? How can we fulfil the carefree criteria when there’s so much else expected of us?
For most students, especially at this time of the year, deadlines and the library are your best friends, the word ‘stressed’ is being acceptably overused and “I need to sort my life out” is growing legs and spreading across every other conversation from the Learning Zone to the spine. When moaning and complaining to a fellow student, especially a dissertation victim, they feel your pain; they empathise and offer to buy you a sausage roll to calm the nerves. However, when recalling your painful lecture to someone outside of the Lancaster bubble your complaints fall upon deaf ears and many a rolling of the eyes. Sadly, my desperate plea for sympathy over a 4,000 word project somehow seems no match for my Grandma’s days pulling night shifts in the war or my Grandpa’s trips down the mine at 16. Our woes are self inflicted; the minute we ticked that confirm button on the UCAS form we were up the stream with only a library card for a paddle.
Revision, deadlines and assignments hurtle towards us all whether we like it or not. Yes, we moan, but most of us accept the work we have to do and embrace the all nighters with open arms. For others, student life is much more than the essays and the lectures, it means juggling a part time job, work experience, voluntary placements, society events and the occasional trip to the Carleton. Whilst some students shy away from the chaos others pile on the pressure by getting involved and preparing for their future until they’re blue. University is about relishing independence and enjoying life, but sometimes we have to stop and think are we pushing ourselves too much to have it all because we want to, or we think that we should?
Student life can be full of extremes, but in Summer Term in particular everyone is bound up in a tense bubble floating ever so close to that pin prick just waiting for it to pop. Nobody was pretending university was easy, but when it’s 4:00am and you’re sat in the Learning Zone surrounded by Red Bull, and unfinished practice exam papers that are starting to look like they’re written in French; there’s no wonder we start wondering why every week can’t be Fresher’s Week.
Although Lancaster life is mostly a laugh and enjoying a Diggles in Alex Square, exam time can really expose those stresses which loom for every student, making us realise that as much as everyone appreciates a good old house party and a society social, sometimes we really do need to stop and reassess our routine.
So, as those exams start high fiving us from every angle take a step back and keep it simple. I’d recommend a revision book, a bar of chocolate and an episode of Glee, if you’re man enough.