The dissertation is done. I was working up to deadline, as previously predicted. More due to reworking it more times than I anticipated than because I left it all to the last minute. It appears to have been worth it, as I got a distinction, both in the dissertation and in the degree overall. Beyond my immediate family, I haven't told anybody that. It is always a difficult balance between sharing such news and sounding like a show-off. The Husband has also come to the end of his training recently (in an entirely different area) and passed everything with flying colours, so we have both had good news in recent weeks.
The summer seemed to pass us by in some ways, spent as it was, for me, hunched over the computer editing and re-editing my ideas into something that would pass for academia. The back-to-school sense of September also feels to have dispersed all too quickly, with only my newly-acquired and pleasingly well-stocked pencil case as a reminder. This September, returning to work full-time brought with it some new purchases of office wear, a reorganisation of my stationery supplies, and a hopefulness that was bolstered further by my degree success. I was full of such good intentions.
A few weeks in and the intensity is hitting a little hard. It is typically a two hour round trip each day and I perhaps underestimated the impact of a daily commute. I am also working (already) towards an exam in January so revision has kicked in immediately. The cold likely hasn't helped. The new outfits and well groomed appearance of my first few days back, which gave me an internal sense of semi-professionalism, have been quickly replaced with a red nose and clothes chosen for comfort. I am hoping that a quiet weekend will see me right, today has included pyjamas and a duvet, and tomorrow I have the day free to get reorganised and back on track. Perhaps October will be this year's September.
I have always been a fan of new starts and fresh beginnings. New weeks, new months, new seasons, new years. I like the potential they present. My first revision session for the January exam was recently held at my old university, actually in the building where I attended all of my teaching and lectures. I love my alma mater, I love the city, I love the buildings, I love walking from the station to the campus and seeing memories on every street corner. Feelings rush back as my feet fall on pavements so often walked, and I skip between years, going from 17 to 24 in a matter of minutes. Interestingly I was born on the same road, those memories are not mine, but my Mum, too, has whole stories lived along that street.
The day of the revision session turned out to be the first day of the academic year. A smiling young man on the train was commuting for the first day of his degree, a quieter chap sat by the window studying the campus map. Those familiar streets were filled with fresh faced students, eagerly making eye contact with everyone, each stranger potentially a new best friend. I saw two boys, really just boys, comparing notes on how little sleep each had had. To me, they both looked far too fresh faced not to have slept for at least twelve hours.
The welcome posters were in the foyer of my building. It is nine years since I arrived there, a fresh-faced girl, just a girl, who could go to lectures on little sleep. It is even longer since I attended for my interview, nervous but enthusiastic, and even before that were open days, and tours of the university that would eventually become home. I am not where I intended to be. The 18 year old who walked in as a fresher nine years ago never imagined this path. I think, though, she wouldn't be surprised. I was headed here all along.