Final Year: New Beginnings

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“Are you, like, totally fluent?”

It’s official. 1 semester completed of my final year, 1 year (ish) after starting this blog and a lot of gin consumed later; I actually miss Paris. This is nostalgia at its finest, scrolling my Instagram and forgetting all those tearful Skype calls with my Mum. Surely something crazy is happening; with each day of final year, I find myself wishing I could be back in Paris, seemingly a million miles away from all responsibilities…

Life in Paris seems a distant memory. By some miraculous blessing, I achieved a healthy 79 for the year (thats a First, baby!) and now I’ve been thrown back into UoB life. The first few weeks seemed to consist entirely of being quizzed over my fluency and whether it was like, totally, the best year of my life. I’m semi-seriously considering printing out slips with my blog link on as a response to save energy whenever the inevitable year abroad conversation arises in future.

Back in Brum

I feel like I suddenly began another chapter of my life without really taking a breath from the previous one. I’m finally at home again in Selly Oak, it’s just not quite how I left it. From a variety of interesting neighbours (one house I am convinced is burying bodies in the back garden… ) to a slightly confusing university new printer system with no hope of it ever working on my first attempt, I almost feel like a lost first year once again. Hopefully I have an improved work ethic this time around.

I’ve found myself in the slightly uncomfortable position of having classes with a new cohort. For the first time, I’m fully feeling the split of a joint honours degree – having left the Art department for a year with minimal contact, I’ve found all my friends have graduated into the big bad world and I’m left with a group of (probably lovely) students who don’t exactly care who I am. It’s hard in such a small course – there’s perhaps only 30 of us in my year and most have been together, same dusty classes, for the past two. In fact, on the first day in September I had to sign a separate register with just my lonely ‘fourth year’ name on it. At least this year I’m actually working in the Barber rather than merely sitting and gossiping.

I promised myself I would make the most of Birmingham as a city upon my return. I started enthusiastically… and have since frequented the same places over and over again. Totally enthusiastically, though. I think The Plough in Harborne should start giving me a discount, given how much of my loan is currently being spent on their brunch menu (subtle hinting, I know). During the September Welcome Week, I genuinely visited The Plough more often than campus itself. Luckily, I’ve decided to fully embrace this culinary coping technique to combat the pressures of final year. After all, I wouldn’t have been able to survive Paris without my heavy dependance on all things croissant-shaped.

Finals & Fear

As I sit in the library, desperately trying not to look at my heap of books, I find myself wondering; why exactly did I think final year would be a welcome return? Or more importantly, can you ever be fully prepared? Life is seemingly more hectic than ever, with my fellow final years split firmly between two camps; “One Year Left to Party!” and the more soberly focused, “Dear Lord Time is Running Out” group. I find myself wedged between the two, feeling guilty if I watch an episode of Black Mirror and equally as torn if I spend my Saturday night reading Freud, ignoring happy Snapchats of everyone at Fab n’ Fresh. I don’t quite know how this balancing act can be harmoniously achieved and it seems no one else can either. A weekend at home is no longer simply a treat to look forward to; it now brings the mild panic of finding those 48 hours mid-week, to stay on top of this ever-growing workload.

Final year has brought with it an anxiety I didn’t know I had. My previous academic career tended to be a last-minute, night before style and I could probably count the occasions on one hand wherein I committed my full effort. Final year is suddenly filling me with a panic that each piece of work counts, to some great percentage, of my overall degree. Having worked the hardest in my academic life in Paris for a meagre 12.5% of my degree, suddenly facing 75% has transformed me into a nervous wreck. Even the revival post of this blog has sat waiting – in various states of writing – since early November. A new year resolution surely must be to stop worrying so much and simply start having faith – after all, I can’t be a complete fool to have survived this far, right?

Why continue writing?

I think back to some achievements from Paris and can’t quite comprehend how I managed to pull them off. If you asked me to return tomorrow, I’m not sure I would have the confidence to dive back in to Parisian life. Did I really debate women’s rights and Brexit in the kitchen over scrambled eggs with my French flatmate? How did I manage to sit an endless stream of assessments entirely in French and manage to pass? Luckily, I have a heap of blog posts (some bordering on hysteria) to remind me that possibly I’m not as clueless as I sometimes believe.

You could choose to see this restart of my blog writing as a distraction technique from my growing workload. Maybe I am a tad reluctant to fully commit to my final year studies. But everyone needs a creative outlet to relieve stress, and what better way, than moaning (mostly to my Mum) via the internet?

I may no longer have my 75010 postcode but who knows, perhaps Selly Oak is the next up and coming European centre for fashion and culture. Maybe Erasmus students here are writing similar blogs detailing their sudden love for questionable takeaways in the same way I confessed my affair with patisserie. My sparse knowledge of Paris was actually recently requested, a ‘top tips’ for a colleague travelling there (I mean, he could have just read that whole blog post…)

I do still have my French bank account; that was one final administrative hurdle I couldn’t bear to submit myself to. I am, in fact, charged monthly for the immense privilege of owning this account and being a little too absent-minded to actually close it. One day I’ll tackle Fabrice again. Until then, I’ll focus on juggling my intense Netflix commitments alongside Freud, Foucault and all manner of interesting writers I don’t quite understand. At least now half of it is in English, right?

 

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