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Graduation: Navigating nostalgia and the future

The end of an era or a door to new beginnings? Graduation in recent years has been a little different than usual so, as the first post-pandemic UEA cohort face graduation, and the campus buzz returns for the end of the semester, how are students feeling? 

By the looks of Concrete Confessions, a bittersweet atmosphere is building. One user described their longing to visit old, empty university accommodation “for sentimental reasons”: “I would love to walk into my old room, that I was last in four years ago, and cry my eyes out.” Another student described their sadness at having both “started [university] alone” and “ending [it] alone”, having poured energy into “three years of endless hours of academics and 12.5 hour hospital shifts” and still “leaving without a single friend”. Simultaneously, others are simply living in the moment, obsessing over logistics and outfits before facing the big wide world.  

This year in particular will no doubt be a challenging time to leave the comfort of education and enter the world of work. Students and graduates alike face the rising cost of living, whilst many still harbour some post-covid anxiety, which ultimately invites questions surrounding levels of unemployment and an increased difficulty finding work.  

However, those with post-graduate positions already lined up enjoy a level of comfort, and everyone on campus is promised a summer of sunshine to enjoy alongside those they have shed blood, sweat and tears with over the past few years. UEA graduates should find some hope in remembering they will become a part of the large alumni network, and that the time and money spent here has been reinvested into their character. I encourage all those anxious about their next steps to focus on how far they have come.

May 12th marks the UEA GradFair- which will host workshops including ‘how to upskill’ and ‘overcoming imposter syndrome’ as well as a variety of employers, from the Army to the Inspiration Trust, Norfolk County Council and Mount Street Group. Career Central, as always, are also on hand to give advice, information about vacancies and access to UEA initiatives. On campus, wellbeing workshops, including help on managing stress, are still available for those struggling, whilst wellbeing dog walks are a must for students to engage in before they graduate. Remember, it’s never too late to get involved with life on campus.

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Libby Hargreaves

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May 2022
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

If you would like to get in touch, email the Editor on L.Hargreaves@uea.ac.uk. Follow us at @ConcreteUEA.