This summer is a long one.
As a Brit going through the state education system, I went through my school years with summer holidays of only six weeks. Okay, so that’s amazing to working adults, but to many of my US readers, I imagine it sounds pretty short — I know your summers were considerably longer at school. Typically for us, school years would end around the 20th July and begin in the first week of September.
Admittedly, in years 11 and 13, I finished earlier due to exams, but being involved in the school musical in early July and a ballet show in mid July on both occasions (Kiss Me Kate and Olympic Journey in 2012; Fame and Peter & The Wolf in 2014) shortened the holiday considerably.
This year, I took my last exam on the tenth of June, and came home from university on the 19th. Bar a week in York, I’ve been at home all that time, and I won’t be back in Cambridge until October. It’s the longest summer break I’ve had in my life — and when you live in a ‘bubble’ like you do at Cambridge, that seems like a big deal.
The three weeks I spent working in my school library helped to break it up, as does volunteering in my local library at the moment. And in theory, I have plenty to do: working on my dissertation (which amusingly is on death and fairies), catching up on Old Irish grammar, typing up my incomprehensible lecture notes, refreshing my French, and generally making sure I’m prepared for next year. Oh, and learning to cook gluten-free food. That’s important too.
Along with all that, I’ve got novels to edit and books to read. I joined NetGalley, which means I can now read and review books even before they come out. I’m not exactly stuck for things to do.
But in some ways, I’m sort of … bored.
This is the point where one of my parents yells that if I’m so bored I could try doing the washing up / vacuuming / putting my clothes away / maybe actually doing some work. I guess bored isn’t the right word, though. I just miss certain aspects of university life.
There are convenient aspects of living at home. Other people to cook for me. A washing machine that doesn’t charge. A dishwasher, to minimise washing up. But hey, in Cambridge I could walk into the centre of town in the amount of time it takes me to walk to the bus stop here. And I had a kettle and fridge in my room, so I didn’t even have to leave to have a cup of tea. Do you know how much I miss that? A lot. I think of it every time I spill my tea on my foot walking up the stairs to my room.
I’m … not exactly sociable. Add to that the fact that a lot of my friends aren’t sociable either, and thus it’s very hard to arrange to meet up with them, I haven’t seen many people over the last few weeks. I was meant to be meeting an old school friend on Thursday, but it rained so much that I couldn’t bear to leave the house, so we rescheduled. And as for my uni friends, they live all over the country. It’s weird not to be able to just go and knock on their doors to say hi.
My house has thin walls. My bedroom door has glass panels. And, more to the point, it doesn’t exactly have the seclusion of my room at college, which was at one end of Europe’s second longest corridor. I can’t watch a TV show without one of my parents asking me what I’ve been doing, and I definitely can’t play music late at night. Given that I’m practically nocturnal and am regularly awake a couple of hours after my parents are in bed, this is … problematic. Plus, I like walking around in pyjamas. Apparently that’s not socially acceptable, though.
4. The University Library.
Anyone at uni with me will know that I hate the UL. I’m convinced that place is the Hellmouth. It’s a warren of narrow shelves; it’s dark and cramped and it’s almost impossible to find anything. More than once I’ve got lost and had a panic attack somewhere in the History section, having to text a friend to come and find me. But it has all of the books. Now that I know what my dissertation will be about — which I didn’t when I left — I could kind of do with being able to access it.
But there’s plenty I don’t miss. I don’t miss having to push open heavy doors just to get to my room (which won’t be an issue next year due to where I’m living, thankfully). I don’t miss having to do all my own cooking, although I’ll have to do that even more this year what with the gluten-free thing. I don’t miss worrying about oversleeping when I have morning lectures. I don’t miss essay crises, late-night library sessions, and struggling over grammar.
And I do like having time to laze around and read multiple books in one day. To resurrect my book blog, write loads of posts here, and edit a YouTube video — even if I filmed it more than two weeks ago and didn’t get around to uploading it today.
Also my parents are here, so I can have hugs pretty much whenever I want them. #miriamispathetic
The holiday seems long. Part of me wishes I were back in Cambridge. Part of me, though, is thoroughly glad that I’m not. Hopefully that balance means that by the time October comes, I’ll be fully refreshed, bored of my hometown, and ready to go back. Maybe I’ll even have done some work by then.
Ha. Well. Maybe I wouldn’t go that far.