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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

In February, I took a trip to Dublin and came across a brand called “The School of Life”. Their brand credits themselves with creating a non-religious dogma to life; selling books about self-improvement, culture, and the meaning of our existence.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for a good self-help book, and I traded the clothes off my back to make room for their books in my carry-on.

One of the books, Small Pleasures, is a book that I can confidently say has changed my life. It’s full of short 2-3 page chapters about mundane affairs and beautifully describes the specialness we can find in the every day.

The novelty of this book has yet to wear off, despite the countless times I’ve held it in my hands and expected that maybe this time it won’t feel as special. I highly recommend you check it out for yourself, but in the meantime, I decided to create my list of small pleasures—explicitly focusing on the beauty and strangeness of university life.

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1. Midnight Strolls

The more time I spend in my small university town, the more I realize how strange this time in our lives can be. Take the example of a midnight stroll on a Friday night in. Most of your friends are going out, but you’ve decided your body needs a break and you spend the night in mismatched pyjamas, listening to faint snippets of rap music travel across the street to your bedroom window. 

You decide you could use a quick walk and leave your student house to purchase some sort of noodle dish from the corner store. On your walk you get to people-watch fellow students in their most vulnerable and comedic state. You see packs of girls strolling down the streets giggling, practically falling over their feet, and the soon-to-be couple exchanging flirty banter on their way to get a snack. You’re basking in the comfort of being surrounded by others just as confused as you are. 

It’s moments like this that remind me that real life isn’t full of midnight strolls embellished with blasting music, drunken strangers, and first kisses. It really makes me appreciate that we as students get to live in this tiny portion of the world where a bunch of other 20-year-olds practice the phenomenon of real life before saying goodbye to their childhood for good. How nice is it that we get to relish in four years of our youth together?

2. Tainted Landmarks

Spending four years in the same place will inevitably taint certain sidewalk cracks and front lawns with bad memories. Unfortunately, your university town is probably full of them, and you can’t help but be transported back to that rather unfortunate moment every time you pass them on your way to class. 

The way I see it though, these landmarks of bad memories serve to remind us of how far we have come. Eventually, these marks may even become comical, and we won’t be able to help but pity the younger version of ourselves who thought those bad moments would cling to them forever. At some point, we won’t even realize we are walking on the same sidewalk cracks and passing the same front lawns because so much other life has replaced those few unfortunate moments. 

That’s the thing about living in the same place for so long. Tainted landmarks will eventually become plain old pieces of the past, almost like a fossil. Until that time comes, it’s comforting to recognize the progress you’ve made since.

3. Mean People

This one sounds a little odd, but there is a way to romanticize the sh*tty people you’ll inevitably encounter in university (because they exist). Whenever someone does something objectively cruel, I take it as an opportunity to instantly feel better about myself—you should too. How much would it suck to live in a body capable of treating others so poorly? What did they go through to make them cold and gloomy? Encountering mean people makes you grateful that you have the facilities to be an objectively reasonable person.

These are only a few of the small pleasures I’ve found in university life. I think you’ll find that they’re all around you if you simply take the time to look. After all, university is a strange time. We might as well try to see the beauty in it now before we see the beauty of it 40 years down the line in an old photo book. We are so young, yet believe ourselves to be so grown. We get to practice living in the real world while also being surrounded by the safety bubble of adolescence. We should try our best to see what’s so special about this time in our lives by picking out the small pleasures.

Leah Pearl

Queen's U '24

Leah is a third year student at Queens U majoring in Religious Studies.