When the exam invigilator called time on my Anglo-Saxon literature exam on Thursday 19th May, he was also calling time on my degree. Though there are still university events to attend and a graduation ceremony in July, all of the work of my degree has finished. I think the strangest feeling of all is that my time at the University of Nottingham has seemed to disappear in an instant, and yet the summer before my first term started feels like it was a long, long time ago.
Despite knowing that I want to write something about my time at uni, I haven’t worked out a plan for what I actually want to say. In many ways, my life won’t be changing as much as some of my friends’. I’ll still be living in Nottingham, I’ll still be very involved with Trent Vineyard church, and I’m actually continuing the same digital marketing job at Impression that I’ve been doing all term, although I’ll be working more days than I am now. The main change is simply that I won’t be going to university in amongst all that.
I’m definitely going to miss being an English student. I’ve loved pretty much everything about the course, and I don’t regret choosing it one bit. When I was looking at degree courses in 6th form, I was choosing between courses around basically all my AS subjects – English, Classics, Sociology and Psychology – and settled on English because it seemed to encompass elements of all the others.
And it’s true – I’ve used knowledge from all of my AS and A level subjects over the course of my degree, as well as discovering areas of English literature and language that I didn’t have a clue about before. I came into university off the back of English Lit A level loving the Romantics and the literature surrounding them – basically stuff through the 18th and 19th centuries – and I’m now finishing having just written a dissertation applying cognitive poetics to Old English poems. I’m incredibly grateful for the uni’s course structure that makes all of the school’s broad disciplines compulsory in first year, forcing students to broaden their horizons. The bottom line is that I’ll miss walking into seminars and spending hours talking about books and language (but not quite enough to jump straight into an MA).
Another great thing about uni for me as a Christian is that I know I’ve grown a lot in my faith. Doing a subject like English is actually pretty good for this, as Christianity is a large part of English literature, whether it’s the dominant ideology or it’s being reacted against by something else, and the kinds of books I’ve studied have given me the opportunity to think more about my faith and understand what it is that I believe in.
Even more importantly, however, I’ve gone through these last three years as part of an incredible church full of fantastic role models, many of whom have already come through uni in Nottingham and grown in their faith whilst doing so. Looking forward, many of those people are now moving on to Manchester, to be part of a very exciting Vineyard church plant up there, but many are also still around, and there are some awesome people stepping up to new responsibilities, making these next few months and even years a very exciting time to be around Trent Vineyard.
When you throw into that mix a couple of great years in halls, brilliant (if, at times, astounding) housemates for my final year, many hours spent playing incredibly nerdy games, and, of course, meeting my wonderful girlfriend here in Nottingham, it’s been a pretty awesome three years.
I guess the main take-away from my time here (alongside a degree) is that time and again I have been reminding to trust God completely. Most recently that has been regarding my plans for next year, including a job and housing, but all through the last three years there have been all sorts of reasons, big and small, for me to realise that I have to take a step back and just trust that God has it under control. That might sound strange to those of you that aren’t Christian, but I know that I have so much to be thankful for, and there is so much that God has been faithful with that I know had nothing to do with my own skills or abilities.
All in all, I’ve loved my time at university, and I can’t wait to see what’s up next.