Thursday, August 19, 2021

And Then, She Finished a Bachelors Degree

Hi there... Hello...

Long time no talk... At least on this platform! If you follow me on twitter or instagram you've heard plenty from me, but on this side of the internet it's been dead quiet... Sorry about that. So, I guess I should re-introduce myself. Hi, my name is Maddie, I'm twenty-three years old and I have just finished a Bachelors degree in Creative Writing. Wow. And somehow, as if I'm not absolutely exhausted by academia, I'm moving on to a Master. I am now a published poet (I know! I am as shocked as you are!) and I have spent three years living in two countries at once (basically, anyways).

I'm not going to lie, this feels really awkward. Is there anyone who will read what I have to say? Is it time I let this blog die a peaceful death and stop paying for the domain? I am too sentimental to let this blog die, I am a serial hoarder, of physical and cloud stuff. So I think I will pay for this domain til the end of time, just to keep the memories alive. But, I do want to try to make the money worth it. So if you're reading this, hi, thank you, I can't promise you I'll be here often, but this blog will be here for you and for me.

Having now survived three years of a Creative Writing degree, I should be good with words, right? I think I am, but I'm quite ashamed to say I haven't written a single piece of creative writing this summer. My brain sort of shut off and said, "Poetry? I don't know her," and I went with it. I've been trying to recharge and just cuddle my dog. Please, blog-verse, meet Jupiter;

We have a lot to catch up on, but it's best we take one thing at a time. So for now, let's talk about university - the ups, the downs, the p-word (pandemic), deadlines, and how I ultimately, somehow, am graduating with a First.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time goes by. Scientifically, I guess this can be explained by how when we age we have lived longer which means it feels as if time goes faster yadiyadiyada. Three years ago, I was packing my life into six suitcases and waiting for that day when I would be moving to another country. And today, I'm back in my childhood home for three more weeks, before I attend graduation and continue my education. When I look back at this time, it feels really strange. Because this dream I had, to move to the UK, became a reality, and sometimes, reality really sucks. I don't mean that I hate living in England, but rather that I often forget that I am living 18-year-old-Maddie's dream. I have had many pinch-me moments, but those mostly happen when I am doing something regular, mundane, like grocery shopping. I've found myself walking home from Sainsbury's, sweating, carrying too much stuff in one giant re-usable Minnie Mouse shopping bag, and just suddenly realising, "Oh wait. I am an adult. I am studying in England. I'm living in England. I get to do all this cool adult stuff. I'm speaking English all the time." It sounds stupid, but that reality is what has kept me going for three years.

It's been hard at times. Deadline season is basically just burn out waiting to happen. I've had to request extensions on (almost) every deadline. I've changed antidepressants twice. I've cried alone in student halls over boys, deadlines, girls, money, bad nights out, having to cook, wanting takeout, missing someone. The list is long, and if I kept going you would stop reading. So I won't, but you get the picture I'm trying to paint. There's been a lot of tears, frustration, heart break, money problems, lack of motivation, and so many deadlines and words written. I've experienced impostor syndrome for three years straight. Even when I got my first poem accepted for publication, I doubted myself, thinking, "I'm sure it's not actually good, they just feel like they have to take it." I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect, to do the absolute best, and though it has obviously paid off, every time I handed in a deadline, I thought to myself, "well, that was shit." So, sometimes I wonder, at what cost am I graduating with a First? I am insanely proud of myself, I'm amazed, astonished, and so impressed that I managed to finish university and finish on such a high note. But it wasn't without struggling through it. (Stay tuned for the reveal of the century where Maddie figures out she has undiagnosed ADHD and that is why she's struggling so much!)

Then came the pandemic. Which, we can't really ignore. I did a year and a half of my degree online, struggling to focus on my lecturers, struggling to find motivation and inspiration, struggling through online learning curves. I spent seven weeks alone in a four-bedroom house at the start of the first lockdown, and those weeks are a blur because I choose not to remember them. I did a lot of singing, a lot of cooking and ordering food, I did one walk a day (but not everyday, because um, I was depressed), and the guy working at the Tesco express around the corner from my house was the only person I saw on a regular basis.

Living in two countries hasn't been easy since Covid-19 hit the market (I have to make jokes or else we'll all cry). Travelling is an absolute pain. So I've spent more time than I would like to admit at home in Finland. I was stuck here from November 2020 to February 2021, because of some testing complications (read: I was meant to fly back to England in January, my negative test wasn't accepted, I had to move my flight to February so that I could afford to pay for another test for that flight). I think it's safe to say that we'll all need counselling for the effects this pandemic has had on our mental health.

That's enough of that. Through it all, I've made some amazing friends. I've met some of the best lecturers on the planet (I'm biased, yes) who are so passionate about what they teach, and I've learnt a whole lot of stuff. I'm happy that I've been able to live in a country and city that truly feels like home, and I'm even happier that I have another full year of guaranteed living there. After that, the future is uncertain, but I'm hoping I will be able to continue living in England. For now, I need to attend graduation in one of those snazzy graduation robes, and I need to start my Masters degree. Though it's a new chapter, with new people, it doesn't feel like that, since I'm going back to the same University (different campus though), living in the same student halls and stressing over the same problems for another year. I'm excited to keep having realisations in the ice cream aisle at big Sainsbury's, and hopeful that I'll get to experience some on-campus teaching this year. It's been a lot, these three years, but that's okay.

Read my published poems: