The Next Stage

As David Nicholls so rightly puts it, “the notion that you can somehow quantify intelligence by some ridiculous, antiquated system of written examinations is obviously specious.” Unfortunately for us, there’s not a lot we can do about that and we’re forced to go through the stress of increasingly harder exams year upon year in order to decide for us whether we are destined to be neurosurgeons or dustbinmen for the rest of our lives. As I’m sure most of you will have guessed, I talk about this because of the dreaded day that has been looming ever closer since the start of summer and is now but two days away; the day on which dreams are realised and crushed- and trust me, that’s no exaggeration.

Luckily for me, I’ve only got my AS results to collect which, whilst still worth half my A level and therefore clearly important, fade into insignificance when stood next to those in the year above whose envelope contains the answer to possibly what their life will look like for the next few years. And that’s pretty terrifying. I know that each year group has a tendency to downplay the importance of the stages which they’ve already experienced, but I would seriously give anything to be back in GCSE and only having to worry about getting my 4 B’s and 2 C’s to get into sixth form, rather than needing ridiculously unlikely high grades to have a chance of getting into any of the universities I want to end up at.

I write this sat on my bed with a mug of tea in hand and university prospectuses spread out in front of me, trying to differentiate between the accommodation prices at this university and the contact hours at that university and entrance grades and module choices and league table rankings and nightlife and things that I never thought I would have to think about for years to come. I still feel about 12 years old even though I turn 18 in less than four weeks, and that’s terrifying. The idea that what I decide in the next few months dictates pretty much what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life is overwhelming to say the least, and no number of open days or prospectuses or “useful” school assemblies on UCAS is going to change that. But whilst it may be terrifying and overwhelming and quite frankly incomprehensible at times, it’s also so bloody exciting. As much as I will miss my school, I can’t wait to get out into the world and experience somewhere a bit more diverse and real than the ‘bubble’ of where I live, which to be honest is pretty much anywhere. I want to get to a big city and meet interesting people and do interesting things in interesting places, and more than the worry or stress, I can’t wait for the future and so should you – it’s an exciting place.

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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.