By Kiera Thornton
Well, this is it, my last fresher’s diary ever. This is the last edition of An Focal for the academic year so first year is pretty much over. It almost feels surreal to look back over my other fresher’s diaries over the course of this semester, because the time really flew. The first diary I wrote, about my boring Christmas break and how delighted I was to be back at university, feels like it only happened very recently. Then I look at my other diaries, talking about academic work and my life as a first year student, but very soon it is going to be over.
I suppose, looking back, I can say that I have had a successful semester, and year in general. This semester I got more involved than before in extra-curricular activities, particularly as a committee member of Out in UL, which has proven to be very enjoyable and beneficial. I have sought to uphold my academic standard from last semester, and (debatably) succeeded for the most part! Generally, I feel as if I have gained a lot from this semester at UL and I suppose I’m very happy to be able to look back on my previous fresher’s diaries and trace how much I’ve learned from this semester.
The flip side of finishing first year is feeling melancholic. It has been an amazing year and I feel very sad leaving it behind, especially when I don’t really know what to expect from my second year at UL. I recall talking about this in my previous fresher’s diaries, but I will be spending two semesters away from UL after my first semester of second year, and seeing how much I have settled into life at university, that actually makes me very uncomfortable. As much as I want to move on with my education and with my career, another part of me wants to stay in first year and sort of live it over and over again.
Not to mention that as someone who quite enjoys life at university, the prospect of the best part of four months off for the summer is actually not very appealing at all. Since I have no real plans for the summer, I really have little to look forward to but being stuck at home all day every day for several months, which will be absolutely torturous. I reckon that my summer will reach a certain stage at which I will be begging to be taken back to UL and eventually second year will not be able to come sooner.
Make no mistake, this semester is far from being over in academic terms at least. Week nine was my most stressful week yet, as I was snowed under with essays, presentations and studying for the upcoming exams. Now I am facing directly into the last few weeks before the summer exams and that is truly a terrifying prospect, and that is disregarding the assignments I have to hand in for week twelve alongside oral exams for my language modules. It is frightening but of course I am not frightened enough to want to do anything about it.
Considering that I have found the workload challenging at certain points in my first year, I somewhat dread what my subsequent years at university are going to bring to me. If I can barely stay afloat in the stressful parts of first year, how on earth am I going to manage the deluge of assignments and exams I am going to face later in my course? I hope that, when the time comes, I will be able to adapt, as I have done so many times throughout all of my academic endeavours.
For now, however, I can only reflect back on my first year. The best indicator of the extent to which I have enjoyed my life as a fresher at UL is that I can say with confidence that if I were to go back and fill out the CAO form all over again (could you imagine?), I definitely would not change anything about the path I chose. There is nothing over the course of the last year that I regret. Sure, maybe I could have made better module choices and maybe there were times at which I could have studied harder and maybe there were opportunities I missed, but overall I have to say that I am really happy with my first year. I am delighted to be able to declare that every aspect of my university experience has been fantastic. I have met amazing people and my life has changed dramatically for the better. All I can say now is bring on second year!