On Being Unable to Deal with First Year Ending

Jonathan Chatterjee anticipates the end of life as a fresher.

Is it really going by this quickly?

So, here we are, at the beginning of the second half of the second semester. Which means that we are closer to the end of the year than the beginning.

How did this happen? In about two months, I’ll have finished first year. Which means when people ask me what year of uni I’m in, I’ll have to respond that I’m going into second year. As basic as that seems, I can scarcely come to terms with it.

I could, therefore, begin sweating profusely as soon as the question is asked, and simply walk off without responding to their inquisition. I could simply lie (though that is much less my style than the above). I can avoid and deny it all I want – as can all the St Andrews freshers. But sooner or later, I will have to come to terms with the fact that, within six months, people more fresh-faced and inexperienced than even yours truly will arrive at the University.

This comes as a shock to me, because four years seems ever such a long time. I know very well the route from St Regulus to Sallies Quad, the Buchanan building, and the library, but little else (drinking establishments aplenty notwithstanding). It seems too, that I am learning the tricks of the trade regarding how to write good essays (for IR, cite extensively and never try to think of your own arguments). But I still, in many ways, feel like a small fish in a big sea.

I suppose time goes by so quickly here because I am always kept entertained. Sometimes with intensive essay-writing; sometimes drinking or watching a debate. Most evenings, I do something social, and then the week is over – and then it all starts again, with little time to contemplate that the end (of the year) is nigh.

I wonder how I will feel towards the freshers. When I got here six months ago, I saw second years as wise people who could teach me the way of the student. In some ways, I now have knowledge to gladly pass on, such as gin and coke, and pasta and mayonnaise. But I – like many St Andreans and students worldwide – find it frightening that, before we know it, there will be people who know less than us, and may even ask us for advice on matters social and academic.

Part of the fear is that my friends are mainly first and second years, with a few third years thrown in. But I know very few fourth years who spend more than a modicum of their time remotely near me. Perhaps they have simply moved out of halls, and are having fun in their private accommodation; but perhaps – as I fear – they are tied up with intense work. I always knew that first year’s workload (or lack thereof) seemed too good to be true – and, now most of the way through my first year, I realise that very soon I will be an honours student being proved right, albeit one who probably did not want to be.

Wish me luck.

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