Nine years after I arrived in NUI Galway as a wide-eyed 19-year-old first year Commerce student, last Thursday represented my last ever lecture as an undergraduate student. Most people manage to compress their undergrad years into a neat three year package, most of the rest stretch it out to four. But no, not me. Sure I was never one for convention. Which is the nice way of saying I didn’t half take my time.
Commerce was where it started but by the following February myself and the course both knew we weren’t for each other. It wasn’t exciting me the way it once did and I was guilty of not putting enough time or effort into the relationship. Back to the CAO it was and down the path of an Arts degree.?Sociology and Politics and History were my two subjects (soc & pol as it is known being the one subject) and it ought to only have held me up one more year. But things don’t always go as straightforward as you think they might and a job offer from the good people at The Mayo News left me with a decision to make at the end of my second year. The chance to make a weekly wage and not have to look down the back of couches for change for the bus on a Friday meant that college went on the long finger.?Which was where it remained until last September. And now, at last, the end is in sight. Last Thursday afternoon saw the last lecture of the semester, our final lecture in our Principles of Political Theory module. Never again will I be in a lecture hall as a student, certainly not as an undergrad anyway. I’m not sure that that is a liberating thought because education can be so enriching an experience. Of course you don’t stop learning when you leave a learning institution but there is something altogether more amienable to learning in such an environment.?Of course I’m not finished yet by any means. The rather major matter of my history thesis on the French Wars of Religion (all submissions gratefully received) and three final exams in a few weeks time still stand between me and my degree.?But nonetheless the final lecture is a watershed moment. A breakthrough. Most of the soc & pol class were planning to go ‘on the beer’ to celebrate the occasion. Me? I went for a four mile run before returning to work on my thesis. ?My 19-year-old self would be shaking his head at what his 28-year-old self has turned into. I’ll promise him that I’ll make up for it after my final exam, but only if he can give me his 19-year-old powers of recovery.