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The 5 Stages of Grief: Coming to Terms with the End of First Year

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Leeds chapter.

As the second semester has come to a close, I have found myself melancholically rocking back and forth on the floor and reassuring myself that First Year will last forever. Whilst this may appear dramatic, I am not ashamed to admit that I have been self-diagnosed with First Year Fever. Symptoms of this common disease include nostalgia, frequent reminiscing and an incessant desperation to cling on to the remaining few weeks of Fresher freedom. Sadly, no cure has been discovered; although this step-by-step guide to the grieving process provides an element of consolation to cope with the finale of first year. If aforementioned symptoms persist, continue to deny reality and pretend that it’s normal not to move on.

1. Denial: “I’m still a Fresher.”

The initial stage of denial definitely lasts the longest, with some people never quite coming to terms with the termination of the first year lifestyle. This step leaves you refusing to accept the reality of the situation, reminding yourself that you’ve got a whole more 15 working days after Easter to get drunk and miss lectures. So, while you are conscious of your denial, you haven’t quite got around to immersing yourself back into that Fresher madness just yet.  Those in this stage can usually be found lurking around the alcohol section in Londis, eyeing up the 2-for-1 offer on Echo Falls. Just hope to God that your liver still functions.


2. Anger: “Yes my time in halls is nearly up, but just because first year ends doesn’t mean the lifestyle needs to!”

You’re definitely not ready to move on. In fact, your skin begins to crawl at the thought of coming back next year and there being new fresh meat to replace you. Obviously, the healthy response to counteract the inevitable vulnerability felt is through overcompensation. This has led to a series of Dominoes binges, interesting morning afters and a few too friends holding back my hair. (One day I will learn that a free bar is not an invitation to try and beat the system; but today is not that day). In a blurred haze, you wake up in the pm trying to piece together the events of the previous night in your still semi-intoxicated state. While you probably should give yourself a break and do some studying, the resentment that this year is coming to a close gets the better of you. Before you know it, it’s your fourth night out in a row and the workers at McDonalds can recite your late night food order off by heart. Maybe I’ll try being an adult tomorrow….

3. Bargaining: “If only I had been more active in societies, tried different things, made more friends”

When the drinking stops and the cumulative hangover hits, the bargaining begins to seep in. Rather than trying to make up for any lost time during the third semester, you contemplate a series of ‘what ifs’ over the past year.  What if I had attended more lectures, gone to more socials or just spent a little less time alone in my room? The knowledge that you always had the potential to be more involved in university life might bother you subconsciously. Consequently, this may mean you’re likely to attempt to regain control over the situation by excessively throwing yourself into uni life after Easter. Not that this is a bad thing: there are far worse things in life than becoming more active on campus during your last term.


4. Depression: “Crap. 3 weeks left of university only to be followed by exams. WHAT AM I LIVING FOR?”

The reality of the situation has hit. Although one might deem it far-fetched to describe this as depression, it’s hardly enlightening to know that the rest of the semester is focused entirely on just passing exams. World-renowned psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross famously stated in 1969 that the cure during this dismal period of First Year Fever can be as simple as a hug.  Whilst I’m never one to promote such explicit displays of affection, Kübler-Ross’s words serve to show that a little support and positive thinking can go a long way. So with a tangible heaviness in the air, first years up and down the nation might ask themselves ‘What am I living for?’.  And the answer is positively simple: a 3 month summer holiday followed by more nights out when you return in September – what could be better, eh?

5. Acceptance: “Freshers was technically over months ago. Bring on summer and second year.”

When you reach the epiphany that lying sprawled out on floor, with a half empty bottle of wine is a tad melodramatic, you have matured to the final stage: acceptance. This crystallising moment of self-assurance does not mean that you have been cured. No, it’s far better than that. It means that you have allowed First Year Fever to help you grow as an individual. It also means that you have come to accept that you’ve got at least another whole two years of university. Hell, if you take a year out in industry or abroad and then do a Masters, you can maintain the pretence of a glorified (wo)man-child for that much longer.

The truth is you’ve probably already made your first year count for a variety of reasons. And if you haven’t, then what the hell have you been doing over the past 6 months? Stop blubbering and remember that second year has tonnes of perks, with screaming ‘DOWN IT FRESHAAAAA’ in their innocent faces being just one of them.


Image Sources:

1.      https://p.gr-assets.com/540×540/fit/hostedimages/1394218577/8823670.gif

2.      https://www.tumblr.com/search/moderate%20drinking

3.      http://everkenyan.blogspot.co.uk/2014_04_01_archive.html

4.      https://imgflip.com/memegenerator