Friday 19 June 2015

Time to Say Goodbye

- Charlotte Hardy

“Tears streaming down your face when you lose something you cannot replace” (the opening lines of Coldplay’s song Fix You) - I’m not referring to a break up, a broken heart, or a broken USB with all your work on (phew), but at the fact that you can’t replace TIME. 

For most undergrads, time at University is hard work, stressful, fun, and everything in between. So for those who are graduating in a few weeks- congratulations! Three or even four years of study have gone. Graduation is the time to celebrate your achievements with family and your friends. Saying goodbye at the end will not be easy. So that phrase ‘til we meet again’ holds some sadness. Even if you’re not a sentimental person or one that cries normally, you may find you need a tissue for the tears on graduation day. What I’ve learnt since I graduated with my BA five years ago is that friends like yours are precious and few. Perhaps its cliché to say that your friends at University are friends for life. There is some truth in it; make sure you maintain the friendship(s) with those life-long friends you made along the way.

Talking from experience, I have six friends who I am regularly in touch with even though we have gone our separate ways since completing our undergraduate degrees. Six is a miniscule number and I wish I maintained contact with other people I had met: from my English course and the societies I joined. I went to study abroad too but I haven’t kept in touch with many friends in recent years (time difference is partly to blame)! People who attended my 21st were people I knew well at the time but now I find that by and large, we don’t talk anymore not even on Facebook. From close friends to mutual friends or acquaintances, University kept us ‘together.’

It is inevitable that beyond the lectures, societies and halls of residence, distance and different ventures will drift you apart from people you know. I realise that attending University is the common thread and once graduation has gone, so has the connection. Unless you both maintain it. Having spent so much time at University it seems silly not to keep in touch. Yet keeping in touch is hard to do when time just flashes by.

Don’t be surprised if in the forthcoming weeks, you find yourself asking ‘where did the time go?’ I have asked it on somany occasions between my life as an undergrad and now as an MA student. I am conscious that my one year at Uni is almost at the end. ‘Where has the time gone?’ While I don’t finish till August/September, studying continues even though lectures finished some weeks ago. Time is precious for me right now. I’ve been working on two assignments. The hand in date is imminent. My dissertation is also hanging over me; there aren’t enough hours in the day. I’m stressed, panicking and losing control. I haven’t got the motivation to do it; my mind is distracted by all the feelings of sadness I’ve been feeling in the last few days.

Instead of focusing on my assignments I’m writing this in the moment because every day my emotions change. Between waves of panic and sadness, there are also tinges of regret that I didn’t make the best use of my time at University outside of study and make as many friends as I would like. Just having four hours of contact time a week with my 4 fellow international and two part- time course mates during term time didn’t seem enough. I have a strong feeling I won’t see many of them again as they will return to their respective countries soon. There’s no indication they’ll be back for the graduation. What I realised here is that I should try and maintain the friendships I have with some undergraduates who I have met beyond my course and live a little closer.

However, I’ve not been able to say goodbye to some undergraduates who I did meet as I’ve been a hermit in a hole. As I emerge from that hole, some have already left for pasture anew. Some are still around and seeing them at a friend’s 21st last week was an absolute delight and a much welcomed break from my room. At that party there were people I had good times with, people that made me laugh and smile. This occasion signified the last time I would see their face. Was it ok to feel a tinge of a sadness while celebrating my friend’s birthday? I hope so! By the time I left and said goodbye, I needed a tissue. Call me emotional. I held the tears back because ‘to cry in front of you, that’s the worst thing I could do.’ I hate to admit that I will miss someone more than they realise. I don’t know if they know or the reason why. I really wish there was some spare time to ‘catch up’ over coffee or dinner, but I don’t think there will. In the absence of those extra hours to catch up, I know Facebook is there but it doesn’t replace seeing a friend in person where you can chat about this and that. Facebook is not the same.

With all the things I’ve done since my BA, time spent at with friends at University, in person, was in hindsight something really special and precious. That is the lesson we learn with time. So before you bid farewell to your friends you leave behind after graduation, make a conscious pledge to stay in touch with those that matter. Some things in life stand the test of time and friends from Uni is one of them. Catching up over holidays or free time after work will be much more fun. It provides an opportunity to take a trip down memory lane and to rendezvous over those moments you enjoyed together at University in years to come.

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