Emptiness and Nostalgia
I am sat in Unio, by the windows overlooking the square. I woke up early this morning — Sunday — having planned lots of things to do today, starting with the very mundane task of mowing the lawn which has grown so much my garden looks like a jungle. Two minutes later, struck by a horrible headache, I had to stop (hadn’t even really started) and get back inside: it is as if fate didn’t want me to be a good tenant with a perfect garden. I went back in bed and watched a couple of very sad episodes of Mad Men.
Usually, this would put me into such a state of frustration I cannot even explain. But this morning it was different because it’s not like I had anything much better to do. After all, university is over now! No more deadlines! No more books and essays I HAVE to read on time for next seminar! These episodes were all about how miserable and empty the protagonist’s wife (a housewife) had become and it started hitting me that I felt quite empty too.
‘The Scream’ by Munch, probably my favourite painting ever. Also a poster I have in my room.
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly won’t miss all the stress or the pressure I put on me for three years, but I already miss having structured weeks with lots of smaller or bigger goals to achieve (read an essay, a book, go to my seminar, do research, write an essay, etc). I have a ton of things I want to read and that I am excited about, lots of series to watch too, but I really need a sense of purpose in everything that I do (O, Sartre, Camus, existentialist philosophers!). Now I’m just going to read things but have nobody to talk to about them, and I’m not even a literature student. There isn’t really is an “Anne-Sophie at UEA” anymore. 😦
What I’m trying to say is that I already miss university, my degree and the sense of purpose and achievement it gave me. Now, I have to force myself to make lots of plans to make sure I do things and stay busy all the time and don’t go mad in my house. I’m glad I finally get to relax because I needed it so much but it’s a bit scary if you suddenly take and remove one massive element of your life.
Since I am in this state of “in between,” I’m just looking forward to moving house, start the next chapter of my life so it’s truly over and I can move on for good.
This was supposed to be a “10 things I’ll miss about UEA” list (more for my older self than anything) but as you can see there’s much more that I wanted to include. So here we go! Enjoy the memories, Anne-Sophie of the future!
- Reading amazing books or authors, having people to talk about them with, talking about them in seminar.
- Knowing that when I bought a book, I wasn’t going to end up with a shitty girly romance story and book covers that make me feel sick (usually a pretty girl in a dress and lipstick)
- Feeling like I’m learning so many things every day.
- Reading books I hate and complaining to everyone about them (or about an entire module).
- All the amazing modules I’ve done and the ones I wish I could have done.
- Contemporary Fiction seminars (I mean, that was in second year so I’ve already missed them for a while. I still chuckle when I think about Marianthi’s point about mushrooms and how much I laughed for the rest of that seminar. I also still chuckle about the Nervous Narratives seminar about A Sentimental Journey when she was half-asleep and had no idea what was going on).
- Science Fiction seminar and the super cool group we had (*cries*).
- Lecturers and seminar leaders (HOW CAN THEY BE SO INTELLIGENT?! I want to be a Doctor too!)
- My very awesome academic adviser who’s been incredibly helpful and kind.
- Finding incredibly weird/fucked-up extracts in books or critical essays (special thought for Freud) and sharing them with Olivia, my housemate and university BFF (and then copying those extracts on sticky notes stuck on doors, on the fridge, everywhere in the house…).
- The feeling I get when I arrive on campus.
- The excitement before seminars about books I loved.
- Making it to a 9am and feeling like a warrior or the sole survivor of a cataclysm.
- The sense of identity and community I had around being a literature student and a UEA student.
- Norwich, the castle, the market…
- Being able to go to the Sainsbury Centre whenever I want, particularly the works by John Davies.
- My way too spacious house (which keeps breaking down – I won’t miss that though), my huge room and how I decorated it. And our amazing fan oven!
- The proximity of the sea although I never go.
- Having Olivia as a housemate for three years, all our cooking catastrophes and other kitchen-related incidents (remember when the fire alarm rang cause black smoke came out of our grill/oven and when I nearly accidentally set my baguette and scones on fire in the microwave?), watching all sorts of weird things together on Channel 4, Louis Theroux, Derren Brown, shows about psychopaths, people in prison, Orange is the New Black (Crazy Eeeeeeyyyessss), playing Life is Strange together (with the ridiculous amount of pasta I’d made for the last episode), talking endlessly about video games (no seriously, Zero Time Dilemma was disappointing)…
- Volunteering at Norwich Mind/The Wellbeing Service and feeling useful.
- The scary woman hidden behind her window on South Park Avenue (true story) and the terrifying Church near Aldi in first year.
- The UEA library, the desks facing the windows, the comfy seats on Floor 3 where I spent the whole second semester of third year (reading Science Fiction novels while listening to Moby 8D).
- Paradoxically, working on projects and writing essays. That feeling when you finally have a good idea and a plan… :’)
- That feeling when you’re about to cry but then see your essay grade and realise you haven’t failed at all (I really nearly cried of relief when I saw my Cultures of Suburbia grade).
- All the books that I had but donated because I was so worried about moving house on my own with no car. Turns out this won’t be a problem for now and I gave almost everything for nothing.
- 6-day long weekends (yep).
- Knowing what you’re doing for the next three years of your life.
- Clubs and societies.
- Working as a student guide or as an Ambassador. I loved giving campus tours on rainy freezing and miserable days! 😛
- Having 5 or 6 months off in the year. (“Real” life will be tough.)
- Being surrounded by people who had more or less the same hobbies and the same opinions.
- Curly fries and best chocolate brownies in the whole world from the campus shop.
My pyramid of uni books.
I’m already slightly grinning nostalgically (is it a word?) about all this, slightly dreading how I will feel about all this in a few months when it’s all truly over. For now I’m just going to roam on campus, enjoying the feeling of being here while I can. Thank god I know what I’m doing after the summer (and I won’t be far — at all! MWAHAHA).