Graduation – the second time around

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Photograph: Luftphilia

I still remember the first time turning into campus in the taxi. My first glimpse of the university, the sports centre. Little did I know it was the sports centre though, except for the old Lancaster logo likened to the Atari logo a number of times before. The taxi driver asked me to remind him again which college it was I was after. “Lonsdale College”, I said quickly. Having re-read my admission letter and my college confirmation many a times. I was so sure of it.

We pull up to somewhat of the anti-climax of the trip, behind the bin, at the back of the porters. I make my way up into the yellowish brick building with the Red Lion on and was directed to the front of the bar where hundreds of freshers like myself were there with their parents. My dad looking amused, but not saying anything. At the end of the line, I pick up my keys and one of the fresher’s reps helps me with my bag, being nice enough to carry my heavy suitcase up the stairs. Flat 6, oh the dreaded climb, no lift of course. Upon arriving, I inspect my room, no trace of anyone having lived in there before, nor did I even think much of it.

I bid goodbye to my dad and enter my room once again, this time with a fresh sense of freedom. I’m on my own now- no one to tell me what to do. I quickly ring my mom and tell her everything about my new room and we chat about the journey, among other things. That same night, some of us headed to the bar for the welcome festivities. In the weeks that followed, like many people, I was an excited fresher going on bar crawls and learning how to make my way to the city centre. And of course meeting the flatmates, having a blast because it was all so new to you.

Subsequent years however, just like most people, I moved off campus, choosing to commute in every day. I remember the dreaded bus journey, packed if you took the half 8, so I’d always get up extra early to get the 8 o’clock service. Now that meant that I got to uni a lot earlier, so just enough time to pop into Greggs for a pasty or two (Cheese and Onion) or the Margherita pizza. Those were always the go to options, and sometimes I would even have both. Lectures at 9am were always horrible, and you’d try to stay away from the spine if you didn’t have a class but were making your way anywhere around that time, especially in the Summer term. Summer meant that Alex Square was always packed, but it was still the best time of the year. As an avid walker, I would take the back route from campus to the city centre. I walked along the perimeter of the university and knew all the shortcuts because I would time my walks.

I suppose having been at Lancaster for 4 years now, I have learnt to love and hate some things about the city.Yes I’m talking about the rain, how it’s always raining, even when it’s supposed to be summer, and of course how we sometimes get snow in Spring. But then I suppose the unpredictability has allowed us to bond with strangers by striking up a good old conversation about the weather. But I surely won’t miss studying, not having a proper holiday because I have the guilt of not studying at the time on my mind.
You never realise the friends that you make at university until it’s time to say goodbye. One of the amazing things about Lancaster is that it is small enough so anywhere you go, especially when you’re walking along the spine, you’ll probably see someone you know. Also, when you’re on a night out, chances are someone knows someone you know. It’s amazing how at the University you can make so many connections especially as, one of the nicest things about people in the North is that, everyone is really friendly. After graduating, you will remember how friends attended your graduation to congratulate you and to celebrate the moment with you. It will be the last time you see a lot of people, but you will meet some of them again later in life.

I remember feeling quite relieved because I knew I was going to be in Lancaster for another year, but it’s finally time to say Goodbye. Time to say goodbye to the ducks. At least we don’t have geese like York does, so surely the cute duckies will be missed. I will miss Lancaster University terribly. For those of you who are happy leaving the university because you know what it is you will be doing next year, congratulations! And for those who aren’t quite sure where they will be, don’t worry!

As I bid farewell to Lancaster, the friends that I have made and the staff that have helped me, I leave a part of me behind. I hope that maybe one day will sit on the steps of Alexandra square again. I anticipate seeing the changes that are scheduled to take place to our beloved campus. Bittersweet memories will always exist, but I hope to hold on to the good and leave the bad behind. I hate you Lancaster, but I love you too.