At this point in fourth year I sometimes feel like I’m coming to the end of a marathon (a laughable comparison for anyone even remotely familiar with my running abilities). It’s about mile 23 or 24; I’m fatigued (mostly from my own whining about how many assignments I have left to do before the end of the semester), slightly bored and lacking motivation to undertake that final push to cross the finish line. My auntie once actually did run a marathon, and had an apparently transformative experience when someone gifted her a banana for an energy boost about halfway through – I would argue that many fourth years are desperately in need of a metaphorical banana (absolutely not a euphemism) at this point in the year in order to keep trudging along until we reach the end and are finally able to don our graduation gown with a huge sigh of relief. Whilst having a graduate job or a place on a Master’s course lined up may serve as great motivation to maintain the dragging library sessions – and you know, succeed at life – sometimes it’s nice to plan something a little more spontaneous. So, how about some post-graduation travel adventures?
Last Saturday morning I was sat on the back row of a tiny, Edinburgh-bound plane. On the other side of the cabin sat an older man and woman; her head perched on his shoulder as she slept; him sat attentively reading an English phrasebook. Essentials, such as ‘may I have a mixed salad please?’, were translated from (what I assume was) his native Italian. As Anglophones, the idea that we’d have to learn another language for a trip is hardly top of our priorities. Everyone speaks English, don’t they? Why am I even bothering with this bloody degree? What’s the point?
I had some doubts on writing about the United States, and specifically about Donald Trump, again this month; I already wrote an article on Trump and white women voters back in December, and the whole purpose of this column is to address issues facing women in all different parts of the world. In light of recent events, however, I felt it was justified. The Trump administration’s attack on women’s rights may have been signed into US law, but the consequences extend far beyond the USA – as, thankfully, does the outrage and backlash generated.
As university slowly crawls into final semester and graduation day sits as a tangible, looming date in the calendar, it’s no wonder that one’s apprehension may exponentially increase with each passing day. Humans have a horrible habit of judging their own self-worth by the value of others, which is only exacerbated in a world ruled by pervasive social media. Hearing other fellow final year students declare “I got a place on this awesome grad scheme that pays really well!”, or “I’m planning my round-the-world trip for next year” can be utterly soul-destroying if you’re still dangling in the midst of indecision about your own future. How on earth do they appear to have their lives so together and well figured out when I still can’t wake up on time for a 10am lecture without the aid of 16 separate alarms and a full litre of coffee? One has to ponder.
‘Where have you been to travel?’
‘Well… France, of course. Spain, Holland…’
‘Erm… Ireland, the USA, Canada.’
‘Ooooh… so you have money!’
From looking at its government alone, one wouldn’t naturally surmise that Bangladesh had a gender problem. On the contrary: it seems unusually progressive, with the roles of prime minister, speaker of parliament and leader of the opposition all currently occupied by women. Rarely has the ‘glass ceiling’ been shattered with such force. It is puzzling, then, that this same country should have amongst the highest rates of child marriage and domestic abuse in the world. And yet this is the reality – and it may just be about to get even worse.
In reflecting on all things post-graduation in order to write this column, I have to admit that much of said reflection has involved a lethal cocktail of panic and anxiety, with an unnecessary garnish of despair. Although the post-university experience represents endless opportunity and a final liberation from the clutches of a highly structured education system, it is difficult sometimes not to become dispirited after filling out tens of subsequently unsuccessful applications, or hearing about friends struggling to land employment in the Real World.