Admittedly, this semester has started off in a rush that has not allowed me much breathing room to reflect on what it will feel like to finish my last few months at the University of St Andrews. In those few moments of solitude that come before the final deadlines of this semester, however, thoughts of the future still cross my mind. As a first year, I remember graduation feeling so far away, and I now sit writing this article thinking about just how fast four years can speed by. I find myself asking the question: how do I hold onto and enjoy the last semester of my university experience while also preparing and getting excited for the next chapter of my life?
I think there are three significant pieces of advice to consider when trying to savor this final semester, aside from the obvious “live in the moment” and “try to appreciate every minute.” First, try to acknowledge all of the people who have made your time at university what it was. Even if your university experience hasn’t been perfect, or has not felt like the right choice for you at times, if you’re in the midst of finishing your last year there, it is worth taking a moment or two to reflect on the something or someone who made you stay. These people are worth expressing gratitude towards, whether or not that is something you can share with them.
My second piece of advice is to try to enjoy the little moments that make your university life so special. I appreciate that it is one thing to say “just have fun” in your last semester, but another thing to manage it when so many final year students are trying to focus on achieving our last grades. But while we may fuel ourselves on caffeine and live in libraries, laboratories, and study spaces, there are still moments to visit our favorite areas of campus. There is still time to capture photos from your favorite sunset spot, to complete those last traditions you haven’t yet had time for yet, and to plan bonfires.
I believe that the best way to face the anxiety of the final semester of university is simply to talk about it. You are not alone in the overwhelming feeling that your undergraduate university years coming to a close; all graduating final year students are facing the same dilemma. So, ask about it, cry about it, and feel every bit of it. Because if you are sad, or scared, or any of the other plethora of emotions we feel about leaving, to see university end, doesn’t that mean it’s been worth it? If you look at your friends and think “how can I possibly do any of this without you,” does that not mean that those friends have had an amazing, tangible impact on your life? Talking about your fears, anxieties, and nerves surrounding the end of your undergraduate degree is a great way of digesting, understanding, and reconciling with how you’re feeling, and can also be reassuring when you realize that everyone is feeling a similar way. My advice to you is to feel every feeling that comes across with each moment of reflection, and perhaps you will be able to see just how much you’ve learnt over the course of your degree; academically, socially, intellectually, and personally. In short, there is no one or right way to appreciate the end of university and also be excited about the next step. The one thing that you can do, however, is commend yourself for completing the journey. You might be a couple months from those ever-approaching final exams and deadlines, but it is important to take a moment and feel proud of yourself and move through this final semester celebrating your successes.