Eton State of Mind

So I’m back. Three weeks later and I’ve returned from possibly the most incredible ten days at what I previously thought to be the most stuck-up and judgmental establishment in the whole of the United Kingdom, but which turned out to be not only full of beautiful red brick buildings and endless traditions, but of inspiring beaks (Etonian slang for teachers) and once in a lifetime opportunities. When my mum and I first drove up to the school, it was a beautiful sunny afternoon and Eton could not have looked more breathtaking.. or more imposing for that matter. One hundred and thirty 17 year old strangers thrown into three larges houses for ten days sounds like the synopsis for a bad television show, but it soon proved to be not only bearable but actually the best experience of my life. Right from the offset, as we all mingled awkwardly drinking our orange squash, I was overwhelmed by how friendly everyone was and also how diverse the group was- there were people from as close as London, as far as Ireland and everywhere in between.

I’m not going to pretend that it was a relaxing ten days in the slightest- with three lessons a day on top of tutorial, lectures, recreation and endless tea breaks, the days were ridiculously long and many nights were spent staying up until 3am finishing that essay or this book. We were of course given some time off, with a barbeque and disco at Dorney Lake, departmental drinks at our teachers’ houses (it was unanimously agreed that the English one was of course the best), a hilarious talent show (called Speeches and based on an old Etonian tradition), and a multitude of sporting events- from netball and dodgeball tournaments to the not-so-convetional Wall Game. On top of that, us English students spent a day in London in order to see Julius Caesar at the Globe Theatre, which was an incredible experience that I’ll definitely be repeating.

The experience I had is a hard thing to describe- hence why I have taken so long to write this post- as the thing that really made it so great was the people and the atmosphere and just the aura of intelligence and interest that surrounded you. The lessons were nothing like those back home, with the idea of geeking out over original Shakespeare texts or Shelley’s diary in Eton’s library being completely normal, and the discussions being so rich and challenging in the best possible way. Being in a room surrounded by people who are just as passionate about the same things as you are is unbeatable and incredibly stimulating- my English teacher said to me that I wouldn’t want to go back to my English lessons at school, and I fear she may have been right.

I honestly can’t recommend applying for this enough for anyone who is considering applying to the likes of Oxbridge and wants to spend an intensive ten days with like-minded individuals. I met some of the most amazing people there who I could go from having deep intellectual discussions with to being in fits of giggles over the stupidest things, and isn’t that really the best kind of friendships to have? The leavers’ dinner ended in plenty of hugs and tears from everyone there- I am honestly not the kind of person to usually get emotional, but even I was a blubbering mess by the time my mum picked me up. That’s what Eton does to you, and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

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And Finally It’s Over

Yes, I’m talking about the seemingly never-ending exam season that everyone else seems to have finished weeks ago. As of Thursday, I’m free of exams for another year and it’s the best feeling in the world! As much as it sucks that I am already back at school and starting my A2 courses, I’m basically pretending it’s already the summer and this one is going to be a good ‘un- hectic but incredible.

For me, and I’m sure for a lot of others, summer is exciting not just for the warmer weather and lack of school, but for the huge expanse of free time that you can fill with exciting experiences. I’m the kind of person that is easily bored by routine and monotony in my life, and summer is the perfect time to be completely free to eradicate this… even if my tendency to love my bed and the internet too much can often lead to me not sufficiently appreciating it!

Summer is almost like another New Year, with my list-loving self writing resolutions about what I am determined to achieve by the time September rolls back around. As I’m sure you may have already guessed, this- as resolutions notoriously do- often fails to actually translate into reality and I’m left spending two weeks solid watching all 62 episodes of Breaking Bad (also known as my post-GCSE summer). I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said this previously; but this year is going to be different.

A lot of my list includes things from my bucket list, but I know that  a lot of these aren’t really realistic at  this point in time. However, I do have a few things on  the cards; from skydiving to possible wing-walking and bungee jumping, as well as holidays and Reading Festival, it should be a good summer. On top of that, I’ve managed to somehow get into a two week summer school at Eton College to study English at the start of July, which I am excessively excited about, and also have work experience at a big PR company in London.

Just to clarify, I’m not trying to show off here about all the great things I’m getting to do this summer- almost everything on there is being paid for by myself with money I’ve saved up over the past two years from my job. There’s nothing more important to me than to experience as much as is possible and to miss as little of the world as I am physically capable of. I’m not going to lie, I have been so inspired by people like Louis Cole, who is one of my favourite youtubers of all time, and who has the most incredibly open outlook on life and seems to get so much out of it in return (he’s buying a plane to turn into a house for christ’s sake). I know a lot of people really won’t care about this, and are perfectly happy to spend their lives solely in contact with the ordinary, but annoyingly (for both my brain and my bank balance) I just can’t be content like that.

 

Had We But World Enough and Time

All through our time at school, we are constantly bombarded by queries of “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, and this is something that only gets more intense as you move up the school. Now more than ever, with only a few months left before I have to start applying for university, I’m being constantly questioned about what I want to do next and to be completely honest, it is terrifying. I don’t even know what I’m going to do tomorrow let alone what I’m going to do next year which dictates what I do the year after next which dictates what I do in five years time.. and you get my point. With exams next month, I’ve started to think about what I want to do in summer and even started planning what to do in my gap year that I’ll hopefully be taking the year after next, and while it’s really scary, I’m also ridiculously excited.

For those of you who did the same GCSE English Literature course as I did, you will no doubt recognise the quote that I used as the title of this post from the poem ‘To His Coy Mistress’. Whilst this poem used it in a rather creepy way, I really love this quote as it pretty much describes my life; there are so many things I would love to do with my life if I had the time and money. I don’t know if many of you have looked at my bucket list page on here, but I love to compile lists of things I would love to do, in the hopes that this might actually help me achieve them. Whether this works or not.. who knows. But it’s the reason that I pushed myself to skydive for charity last summer and the same reason I am doing many of the things I have planned for my gap year (interrailing, volunteering abroad, living in France). I am one of those people that is just so easily bored by my simple life in the bubble of Marlborough where everything is easy and repetitive and safe- I guess you could say that I just want some adventure, in any shape or form that comes along. I find it hard to comprehend the people that have no desire to see the world or experience new things because to be quite frank, what else is there to get excited about in this world? Whilst ‘new things’ for some people is very different to others, it doesn’t matter what kind of scale we are talking about, just simply the idea that you wish to challenge yourself or do something out of your comfort zone. Either that or you can just trundle along through life not questioning everything, just taking what you’re handed and asking for nothing else. But how incredibly boring is that?

I’d be really interested in hearing what other people think about this, is it just me that can’t stand the fact of spending my life in a repetitive cycle of eat sleep work repeat? Also what kind of things do you have that you want to accomplish, perhaps a sort of bucket list of your own? Maybe this is just me, over-thinking everything as usual.. but if it means that my life is a hell of a lot more interesting as a result, then so be it.