Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, cigarettes, beer, coffee: some of the most sought after and enjoyed things in life. Satisfaction vs. health, thrill vs. guilt. As humans, this battle is one we face daily; hence the renowned and frequently used phrase ‘guilty pleasures’.

Walking through a distinctively nondescript social gathering, (birthday, or leaving do? It doesn’t matter, everyone is surreptitiously aware of the fact that the ‘occasion’ is merely a front for the inevitability of intoxication) almost before saying hello to anyone a beeline is made towards beer and whatever else.

Your parents arrive, each driving a different car, just so there’s a hope in hell that all your belongings, necessary and otherwise, might make their way back to the nest in one huge effort. The corridors and stairs are a pain to navigate when weighed down with laptop bags full of whatever you managed to cram in to them. The experience is truly a workout for both your physicality and your patience with your parents but once it is complete and the room is empty, so are you. I’m not ashamed to admit that seeing the room in which I based the best year of my life stripped bare and restored to its original state hurt me more than I thought it could. My posters and photos had gone from the walls leaving only fragments of blu-tack on whitewashed walls. My bedding stripped off revealing the less than appealing mattress. My trademark clutter cleared from the floor making the room appear much larger than I thought it was.

This summer, towards the end of your holiday, as you sit on the balcony sizzling in the sun, or by the pool, and you realise you sort of miss home, trying to imagine that you’re staying there for an extra year, or maybe even longer, and then think that you won’t get to see any of your loved ones for all that time. Even worse, imagine not being able to see your girlfriend / boyfriend for all that time. Would you be able to endure the torture of no romance for so long?

Graduation; it symbolises the end of years of hard work. A graduation ceremony officially marks the end of University and the beginning of the rest of your working life, graduating with the ability to delve into something you really care about and enjoy doing. Graduation is a chance for your family to celebrate all the hard work you have put into your education. You get to wear a Harry Potter esque black gown and hat, and you finally get your degree, official proof of the effort you have put in and the grade you deserve. Then to top it all off you get one last massive night out with your University chums. But the meaning of graduation won’t be the same for everyone. Is it really as important as what you initially think it to be? One can’t help but wonder if the graduation ceremony will live up to the meanings that we assume it to have. I wonder if it will actually turn out to feel as important as what I did when one first started University.    

 

All you students think that after all the hard work is done, you’ll be able to waltz in to your occupation of choice with a high salary and a magical golden singing parrot. Perhaps the parrot is only for those with the loftiest of ambitions but the air of palpable optimism around students, particularly those in their first year, is sickeningly inaccurate.

What is life without friends? No bloody fun that’s what. Friends make youth what it is; the best memories of the best years of your life which you share with your mates. School, college, University, jobs, whatever’s happening in your life as a young adult you experience it all with them. Your mates are the people who you spend most of your time with; during University you even live with them. You have fun with them, have a laugh, you trust them, and you can talk to them about anything and everything. But then adulthood sets in, and all those fun, carefree days seem like a distant memory.   

In the midst of preparing for the life changing event of going to University, it often goes unnoticed that this is a chance to delve into a whole new concept of ‘you’. Between the unyielding pressure of choosing the right University, getting the needed grades and preparing to uproot and move to a new city, there is not much time to think about what will actually happen when one gets there. Of course, what ‘happens’ is an amalgamation of positively wonderful, unpredictable and unforgettable experiences unique to each and every student. But what can be said of all is that the person that shuffles their suitcase into their new digs with a whole barrage of expectations on the first day of University will not be the same person that stands under the iconic graduation cap at the end of it all.

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