*warning – cringy photos*
I’d always wanted to go to Uni and get a degree. It was something that I’d focused on, and worked towards for years – same as many of us. I never knew what I wanted to be, or where I’d end up after uni, but getting a degree was the one thing I was set on. I was so ready to go.
As soon as I turned up at the Liverpool open day with my dad, I knew it was the place for me. It was ‘The One’. We initially went to an open day looking at Law, which the first introduction lecture quickly put me off doing. I remember thinking that there was no point doing a subject degree as you aren’t qualified to do anything but I was so wrong and close-minded. We looked at English, History, Philosophy, Communications. I knew that whatever degree I did, I had to go to the University of Liverpool.
I felt like Liverpool had so much to offer me, I instantly had such a deep connection to the campus and the city, and I always will do. Eventually, I picked English because it was always what I was known for liking, ever since I was little. Part of me was always drawn towards an English degree, I just ignored it for so long. I’m so glad I finally listened. I wasn’t the best at it in my A-level class, but this never deterred me from trying harder and I never fell out of love for the subject. When I picked it at A-level, I ran into my year 7 English teacher who commented, “I always knew you’d do English”.
I cried when I got my offer. Out of happiness and fear at somehow having to get the grades. I kept all of the letters and postcards they sent prospective students blu-tacked to my wardrobe as motivation throughout my A-levels. I cried even more when I got in on results day. Thankfully, my first instinct was right and I am a completely different person after my degree. We visited a second open day to check out the English course properly, and I remember being totally awe-struck at the beauty of the building which is now my beloved Abercromby Square. It amazes me every time I go in, the architecture is so stunning. I honestly don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t get in.
I’ve been in denial about leaving. I assumed I’d figure out what I wanted to do somewhere along the 3 years, but I entered third year with less idea than when I started because I no longer wanted to be a lawyer. Finally, I acknowledged that I was meant to do something creative. I planned to do a Masters degree just to prolong my stay, put off the decision for another year. I couldn’t decide between Forensic Linguistics at the University of York, or a Medieval Literature MRes at Liverpool. Whilst I perhaps found Forensics more interesting as it is more scientific and factual, I would have undergone an MRes just to stay at Liverpool.
I’ll be the first to admit that my course took me in a direction I never thought possible. To make sure I got the grades for Liverpool, I had to do 2 english re-sits over GCSE and A-Level, one in Language. Not once did I think i’d end up preferring Language to Literature, but I do. I never knew I could combine my interest in history with my degree, until I found my Medieval Literature modules. I also managed to incorporate my fascination with crime and psychology in my Forensics module. I’ve read authors and poets i’d never heard of, studied drama and staging, lesser known Shakespeare plays, learnt how animals communicate, examined false confessions, and ended up with about a million books I will probably never read again but can’t bear to part with. Check out my discussion of a medieval feminist text HERE.
I’ve also changed in more ways than I thought possible, both physically and mentally. I was painfully self-conscious before I started uni, I was terrified that people would think I was ugly or too sarcastic or overweight. I managed to lose over 2 stone in my first year, and I dyed by hair from bleach blonde to dark in celebration. A whole new me. I discovered rugby, I even went on a mad rugby tour! Me! Changing from dancing to rubgy was something that never crossed my mind until the Freshers Fair. I’m so glad I did because it did so much for my confidence.
Somewhere along the way, I grew up. I used to be so afraid to say what I was really thinking, other than to my best friend Ella. I took so much sh*t from people over the years at school, and it makes me so upset to look back and know I didn’t stand up for myself. Now? I’m so much more confident, and I know I will never let people be horrible to me again. I used to feel sick for weeks at the prospect of a presentation, and now I’ve been asked to present a whole event because it turns out I’m actually quite a good public speaker. To be honest, I credit the countless speaking exams we had to do in English lessons at school for helping me with this.
My worst fear used to be going to school when Ella was off, having to be by myself. Doing a degree that none of my housemates at Uni did meant I was forced to attend lectures by myself. Yes, I made friends along the way, but there are so many module options at Liverpool that I was hardly ever in a module with a friend twice. This made me put myself out there, be the first one to speak to people. With smaller modules as the years went on, I even answered questions, something I never did in school EVER. I became a more confident driver, driving in a city kind of forces you to do that. I can now do everything by myself, when it used to make me so anxious.
Best of all, I met Matt. We actually met on the very first day in first year. We were in the same accommodation and they set up a bar crawl. It was actually pretty rubbish, so a few of us went back to Matt’s house for a night out and the rest was history. The whole group of us have been friends and housemates ever since!
I can’t decide which year was best for me, each was so different. First year pushed me so far out of my comfort zone, but I loved every minute of it. Third year made me realise what I was passionate about. I started my blog as a escape from my dissertation, and as a portfolio of my work. I’m so glad I did because it has led to my dream job. It turned out that the job I desired actually existed, I just had never heard of it, but I know it will suit me so well. Starting third year terrified me. I was so scared and overwhelmed. I had no idea how I’d actually produce a dissertation.
How I’d apply for a Masters Degree.
How I’d stay in Liverpool and make myself employable.
I went to a Careers Advisor in November and came out in tears. She told me I’d missed deadlines for all of the graduate schemes and tough sh*t basically. I was so disheartened. In some ways, that’s the best thing that could have happened to me so early on. It made me so determined. For someone who, after my degree, isn’t actually qualified to do anything, I knew I had to make myself stand out. I started an internship, which has allowed me to network and given me so many opportunities. I’ve also made so many friends through it.
I worked in Human Resources throughout my second year. This job gave me the best of all worlds. Earning money, with the opportunity to still go out during the week. I learnt so much from this, and the girls I worked for, which I know really impacted me.
A degree in English has done so much for me. “Transferrable skills”, you’re always told, but it’s so true. I know, a lot of people will see my degree as pointless, but every English graduate has a completely different degree, knowledge and skill set. Can you say that about your course?
From just writing countless essays alone I’m able to proof read, convey meaning, be convincing in my writing, and skim read properly. I’ve learnt time management, how to work totally independently, I’m great with deadlines. Extensive reading has widened my vocabulary and made me a more well-rounded person. I can think critically, analyse text, argue. I can see straight through when anyone else bullsh*ts their way through a text aha. This doesn’t count the extent of my knowledge surrounding each individual module. My degree has combined history, languages, philosophy, ethics, speech therapy, psychology, biology (true – believe it or not), law, and many more things.
I actually feel so emotional writing this. Liverpool will forever have a place in my heart, and I would fully encourage everyone who is even considering doing a degree, to go for it. A lot of people who don’t go say that it is because of the cost. Yes, that is a huge factor, but you do get a student loan and potential grants, student discounts, and I just think it is such a valuable experience that you can’t put a price on. I could never regret getting my degree, even if it means starting to pay back my student loan in August. It’s only £30 a month for me, so it’s not that noticeable really.
I still feel like a student because my friends are all still doing exams, and I don’t graduate until July. However, I tried to shop on PLT earlier and my student discount ran out, which broke my heart. I loved telling people I was a student. There was something that made me feel so intelligent and cosmopolitan. “I’m a student and I live in a big city”. I didn’t really say that but it’s how I felt. I had to pinch myself throughout my entire first year. I’ve lived in Liverpool for 3 years, and I still haven’t got used to hearing seagulls in town. I had the best of all worlds. A beautiful university, old and modern buildings, an inner-city campus, the whole city is within walking distance. There’s the studenty Concert Square, the smarter Business District. The Albert Docks, beaches, amazing shopping, lambananas. It’s my favourite city ever.
I’m overwhelmed with sadness at my time being over. So many adults used to tell me, “oh I wish I was back at Uni!” and now i’m one of them. I’m also very proud of everything I’ve achieved. Part of me wishes I’d have focused more on my grades in the first bit of second year, but that was also the time that I was growing up and changing. I can’t regret that too much. I can still live uni life through Matt and my sister, who joined me in Liverpool and loves it just as much.
After spending this morning in bank meetings and adulting, I can wistfully look back on all of the morning lectures I attended with a hangover. I don’t think I’d reverse time if I could, but I hope I can one day do a Masters Degree and be a student again. I’ll miss the lie-ins, the spontaneity, the discounts, the whole lifestyle. The St Patrick’s Day, Halloweens, any excuse to dress up and drink really.
Yes, it’s the end of an era, but it’s the start of an even bigger journey. One I can’t visit a lecturer in office hours and ask for help on.
Liverpool, I love you. Thank you for everything and here’s to another year together.
Thinking of studying English? Check out my course HERE.