It takes four years to nail uni

Third years have it all wrong


Memories of our undergraduate years are, if we’re honest, hazy at best. Alcohol-inspired stupidity, strange but frequent ‘illnesses’ that, as you assured your professors, so tragically prevented you from attending your lectures that day, and the more general chaos and stress of not having your parents around to do everything for you – let’s not lie: life as an undergrad is tough-going.

However, for that elite number who remain for an extra fourth year – whether an integrated one or a separate master’s course – something weird happens.

Undergrad days are a haze, like the 60s

Undergrad days are a haze, like the 60s

No longer are we so free-spirited as to be able to waste away all of our free time. No longer is work put off till the end of the year, where, with one final caffeine-fuelled effort, we nail that First Class honours degree we definitely deserve (I nailed a First in mine, anyway, and I’ll never let you forget it).

Instead, for the first time in our lives, we are faced with work that’s actually difficult, deadlines that we can’t just shirk off, and overarching expectations of us to be individuals who, as much as we might want to deny it, are now adults.

Do this, and then another year

Do this, and then another year

And it’s the craziest thing – we actually rise to meet these challenges. We structure our time, drink in moderation if faced with 9am classes, and we start our coursework a solid week or two before it’s due – not 24 hours prior, as is the undergraduate habit.

This doesn’t mean that we’re more boring or more limited in 4th year. Instead, by structuring our time we actually fit in far more than we did at undergraduate level. And even if we do go out less, or drink less, this just means our nights out are better and more memorable – as opposed to the blind-drunk blank spaces in undergraduates’ memories that their friends have to fill in the next morning. There’s even the added bonus of being above the puerile cliques that plague Durham’s student life.

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But don’t think for a second I mean to lecture or patronise you. I’ve been in your shoes. I know how it goes. Each drunken night might mould messily into the next, but that’s just the classic undergrad life, y’know? You shouldn’t feel bad about it.

Perhaps this 4th year phenomenon is quite simply a result of pent-up undergraduate guilt at having been so hopeless in the attempt to be a ‘good student’. Perhaps when we reach that ripe old age of 21, we suddenly become ancient, conservative-leaning and forever uttering of the age-old adage ‘back in my day…’. Who truly knows? All that’s clear is that 4th year is the year you finally get Uni right.