As school terms and university semesters come to a close, the time has come to pack up your stuff, scrub down the mildew, hoover under the beds and move out of your student abode. Whether it’s your 7x5m room in halls or your shared student house, the fear of the hall managers or your landlord drives you to do something about that smell in the fridge and the red wine stain on the carpet that rejected the age-old put-white-wine-on-it treatment at predrinks that time. Those people in power who hold your deposit oh-so tightly have you wrapped around their little finger as you split up jobs to wipe grout off the tiles and pick blu-tack off the walls, and sadly, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Moving out is a royal pain in the arse and it always takes a lot longer than anticipated. Considering you’ve only been settled for a year, you have managed to accumulate a whole lot of crap that you attach too much sentimental value to to just throw them away. Those free pens from the Freshers’ Fair – you’ll definitely need a pen at some point. Your exam papers from January – maybe they’ll be useful next year when you’re revising. That ice cube tray – well, you always need ice, don’t you? There are simply not enough boxes in the whole of Sainsbury’s for all your stuff, let alone room in the car.
Adrenaline runs high for the first couple of hours of the first day of packing everything away. Going through old folders and putting them into boxes before shuffling said boxes into the lounge to get them out of the bombsite that has become your room. Music blares loudly through the speakers and you bop around the kitchen with your housemates as you realise that the oven wasn’t quite as dirty as you imagined. It’s a kind of bonding experience, gripping onto the last few days of living in each other’s pockets. You reminisce, you laugh, you think about how quickly the last year has gone and you talk about how things will be different next year.
For most people, it won’t really be that different. 3 or 4 months of summer holidays and spending time with your friends from home normally flies by before having to re-pack everything into boxes and take it back to university to start your next year in a new house with, normally, the same housemates. For those of us embarking on our 3rd year of a language degree, it really is goodbye. Our next year will be spent halfway across the world, surrounded by new cultures, new languages and new people. Obviously, it will be one hell of an experience. But it does, however, mean that our years at university with the people we knew and lived with and the life we had created, is over. 3 year courses are standard, so, as a 4-year-course student, when you say “goodbye” after spending 5 days hoovering the floors and wiping down surfaces together, it really is goodbye.
It was nice living with you, good luck with your dissertation, I’m off to France, see you on the other side. Can you give me a hand with this box?
Too many boxes, too much stuff, too many goodbye presents and not enough time. Goodbye doesn’t always have to mean it’s the end, though. It’s just the beginning of something completely different. From all the conversations with my housemates we finally, through tears, came to the conclusion that we’re so lucky to be saddened by the thought of things changing, ‘cause that just means they were pretty damn good. If you can take this on board and find the best in scrubbing a toilet that hasn’t seen bleach in a while, well, you know things have gone alright for you.