(The following article reflects the writer’s own personal experiences and opinions.)

Written by Rean Rehman.

I still remember when I first started university. It was autumn 2018 but it feels like it was only yesterday. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but you get me.

But honestly three years at university have gone by fast and in that time, much has happened. I can’t believe uni is nearly finished. It really does feel surreal in a way. Notably, everything just feels mundane, the conclusion to a chapter of my life feels humdrum.

To be fair, this is more because of COVID. Indeed, this past year, I haven’t attended university once in person. I haven’t seen any of my lecturers or friends face-to-face, and with the social aspect of university being such a big part of it, that having gone makes everything feel empty somewhat. The last time I was even at uni in person was in early March 2020. It feels like a lifetime ago. I don’t even know if there will be a graduation ceremony this year but even if there is, I don’t even know if I want to go to one anymore.

Overall though, I’ve definitely changed as a person. Whether socially, academically or more, this whole chapter has made me grow as an individual. Before university, I was less mature, I was irritable and I hadn’t been exposed to such a diverse range of people. I wasn’t very social and I always felt like the odd one out. And I felt like I was still a kid deep down.

But three years on, I feel I’m a different person. I am more mature, I have become more composed and generally more aware of life around me. The kid within me has gone. I feel I can understand people better and by meeting many kinds of people during my years at uni, I have finally realised that I’m not some odd freak of a person that I thought I was years ago. I feel I have accepted myself for who I am. I have met interesting people and made some good friends, and have been fortunate to have had pretty good teachers throughout. I have also become very used to commuting (albeit not anymore since COVID began). I will miss the long train and bus rides that I used to undertake between Birmingham and Leicester. I will definitely not miss having to fork out money for transportation though! And the city of Leicester itself has grown to have a place in my heart and will always do. For much of my time at uni, I was there so often that it was almost like my second home.

However, with one chapter ending, another chapter begins. At this stage, I hope to pursue a masters’ degree in international relations but after that, I’m unsure of where I want to go. And not just professionally. The end of university is a reflective and changing time for those who attended in many ways. In coming years, many of us may become distant from our close friends at uni, the shared experiences being one of the few threads that hold us together. We continue to grow and change as individuals and we move on with our lives. Indeed after the end of university, that is when adult life really begins to hit you, at least in my opinion!

Compared to school or college, my experience at university has been a lot better and more fruitful. It’s definitely something I will miss. But I can’t help but feel I didn’t make the most of these years. While I became more social and had a good cohort of pals, I never really went out much and don’t have the same kind of experiences that many uni students have. Not that it’s a bad thing though. After all, everyone has different experiences in life. But overall, I will miss uni and I’m sure in years to come, I will wish that I could wind time back.