If you haven’t heard about the first half of my 2018, where have you been? Get caught up already.
How there was more going on in June and July than the first five months of 2018, I’ll never know. These months were a transitory period in my life as I progressed from student to graduate. With very few commitments during this time, I travelled to London, partied in Birmingham and avidly attended the gym. I learned to love a cold shower and steam after a heavy session and, for the first time in my life, shifted down into first gear. I took things slow. I relaxed.
I relaxed at a time when I didn’t know the meaning of the word.
June = parties.
And the first party was a big one: Valefest. It’s the largest student-run festival in the country and takes place on The Vale, University of Birmingham’s First-Year accommodation. The student village centres on a grand lake, surrounded by hundreds of trees on many acres of greenery, making it the ideal spot for such an event. I travelled there with six of my closest friends for an all-day party.
For the first time, I was introduced to fantastic artists like DAME and Fickle Friends, who we listened to alongside student comedy and acapella performances. I even caught a glimpse of my old Taekwondo sports team, who demonstrated kicks and flips right when the prospect of rain appeared most likely. After a day of music and laughter, the celebrations ended in two friends losing their phones.
Considering the exact same happened the year before, they remained remarkably chilled.
Pictured above is one of my best friends, celebrating that we’d secured a bottle of wine each after queuing for the better part of half an hour, at our Grad Ball. Not that the wait was worth it; she could only choke down a quarter of hers: it was the most disgusting, bitter, yet overpriced bottle we’d ever tasted. Having been softened by the touch of alcohol, every guest became so open about their gratitude for one another during three years of non-stop studying.
And what a way to celebrate an end to all that! We enjoyed a lovely, albeit tiny, three-course meal, drove bumper cars and danced the night away to the likes of Gentleman’s Dub Club, Wilkinson and Folly Rae. The event wrapped with a silent disco for an after-party: objectively, the best kind of party. You’re given headphones and three stations to tune in to, meaning there’s usually something for everyone.
And if you’re bored of whatever’s playing? Take off your headphones and hear everyone sing out-of-tune to their station of choice. An utter joy.
A month away from coursework wasn’t complete without a trip to London. This time, I visited The Walkie Talkie’s Sky Garden. The views from the 38-storey building were mesmerising, especially when the Red Arrows zoomed by. From that height, it was almost as if I was on-board with them.
En route there, I ran through a crowd of oversized bubbles. Obviously, I had to pose with one.
If June was a big month, July was bigger.
Community 2018, London’s one-day festival was, in a word, cool.
We watched The Vaccines, one of my favourite bands, perform live for the second time. That was pretty cool. Two Door Cinema Club closed the festival alongside a stunning set of fireworks, exploding from behind the stage. That was really cool.
I also briefly worked with a recycling team to clear up the area. They’d exchange tinnies and other empties you collected for a small monetary reward. I was broke at the time, so earning a little cash for being neat was super cool.
That all being said, the British heatwave had just about set in. The temperatures were not cool at all.
Two fantastic sundaes and two of my homemade birthday cakes made July the month for good food.
July’s greatest achievement: graduation. At times, that coveted hat and gown felt far from my grasp. I struggled against the grain for three years, steadily improving my craft and gaining better grades, resulting in a very well-earned degree classification.
My grade? A 2:1.
I could have cried when I read my final marks; they were exactly what I’d wanted for so long. And I celebrated with the most fantastic degree congregations a graduand could have asked for, despite it taking place on what I’m sure was the hottest day of the year. I was wearing five layers, one being comprised entirely out of sweat.
And how cool is it that I got to pose with two of my besties as wizards? Very cool.
Who would’ve thought that I’d be reviewing 2018 for three straight weeks? Catch the third and (hopefully) final part next Monday, where I’ll recap August through December. From finally finding employment to creating my first ever Christmas cake, this won’t be a blog post to miss. Catch it at 5PM GMT.
This Friday I was planning to coach you through crafting a killer Personal Statement for a teacher training application, but that’s going to have to wait. This week I’m focusing on my own impending interviews, dropping posts down to one per week until I find time to write more prolifically again.