Coming to the end of 2017 I thought it would make a nice record to look back throughout the year, which has been full of adventure, hard work and new challenges.
Entering 2017 at a house party with some of my closest school friends, I could never have plotted out some of the events of 2017, but in that lies the excitement of being at a stage in life where there are so many changes and opportunities. A few days after sipping prosecco with the girls that know me best, I was back on the long train to Exeter, stopping at what always feels like every village. I returned to submit a couple of papers I had slaved away at over Christmas, and to sit an exam. It turned out that being booed by my sister for not helping her with puzzles on Boxing Day paid off; I did well in the papers I submitted, and my Christmas miracle came in the form of a 1st in an ‘Advanced Statistics’ exam… for someone who has always disliked maths, this really was a Christmas miracle.
2017 was filled with many familiar events, including my seemingly annual concert. This year I went to the Drake Boy Meets World Tour at the O2 with my best friend and fellow RnB fan in February. The music was fantastic and the stage was a pleasant surprise, with a huge moon and stars flooding the arena.
The highlight of the year was most definitely my field trip to Brazil. I remember deciding I wanted to go on the trip to Brazil when I went to the University of Exeter’s Open Day back in 2014, and this dream was fulfilled in March. I flew via Lisbon to Rio and stayed in the Atlantic Forest’s Uniao Reserve where I estimated the carbon stocks of different trees, saw Golden Lion Tamarins, tried lots of weird and wonderful foods, and swam on Copacabana beach. I am really hoping my first trip to Brazil will not be my last. After the trip, I travelled around Rio with a classmate and her Brazilian friend. I felt so care-free on this adventure, and loved every minute of the ‘Brazilian BBQ’ (huge party) in the forest, sipping my first ever Caipirinha, and visiting the best museum I have ever been to – The Museum of Tomorrow. One of my ongoing goals is to improve in giving presentations, and although I am still far from a natural, myself and two classmates presented our project in Rio and managed to get a 1st on the presentation – a real sign of improvement and something that has since increased my confidence when speaking in public.
Inevitably, April and May are not my favourite months. Long hours in the library, the sun shining out the window, and Roland Garros on the TV. A lot of guilt coming from just a couple of hours of playing tennis, or taking a lunch break that’s a little too long. I always become very intense over the revision period and it does not bring out the best in me, but a new addition to my 2017 certainly helped this year. In March I had been given the all clear that my sesamoiditis had mostly healed (basically a repetitive stress injury in your foot common for tennis players and ballerinas, or people stupid enough to wear high heels on a regular basis.), and with that news I was keen to get running! Throughout school I had always been into sport and in netball and hockey I was always a wing – I love to run – but after a dislocated knee, followed by a broken ankle, I had considered myself lucky that I could maintain a decent level in tennis and did not want to push my luck with running. My boyfriend, a keen triathlete, helped me in March to get into running, largely with the help of Strava and a new found love of parkrun! Running is a very time-efficient activity and allowed me to get fresh air, exercise, and a revision break without causing me to feel guilty about time away from the desk – from the spring I was hooked on running. Throughout the year this passion grew and grew, with my first parkrun in May, my first 10k race in June, joining the University Triathlon club in September, running my first Half Marathon in October, and representing Exeter in the BUCS Sprint Duathlon in November! I think that series of events indicates how much I have enjoyed running in 2017 – and to end the year I managed a new 5k PB last week!
Running wasn’t the only new item to feature in 2017. I travelled to 3 new countries in 2017 – Brazil in March, Guernsey straight after exams in June, and Croatia in September. Split is a wonderful place and I really cannot recommend it enough! I booked the most amazing airbnb and we really made the most of our week there – exploring Split itself, but also venturing out to Trojir, Sibenik, Krka Waterfalls, and trekking up Marjan Hill three times, including a sunrise! This year I went to the Eden Project in Cornwall for the first time, which is somewhere I have always wanted to go, and in my last year at Exeter I FINALLY made it to the Tar Barrels night at Ottery St Mary (worth a google)!
In September I moved into a flat with my boyfriend. Its a perfect location, and we’ve made so many nice touches, happy memories, and delicious food there already! It’s a nice relief coming home from the library each day in a warm, cosy, safe, hassle-free environment, and I think it’s really helping both of us get through the notoriously challenging third year. After living in a cold (freezing is more accurate), often lonely house last year, quite far from campus, this has been a welcome change. We celebrated our second anniversary in November, and are looking forward to all the new memories to make in 2018.
These snapshots make my year sound very exciting, but 2017 was as much a learning curve as it was an adventure. Over the summer I took on an internship in an industry that really wasn’t the perfect match for me, and the long commute to London with the infamous ‘Waterloo upgrade’ going on really didn’t improve my mood. I would come home tired and (I admit) a little grumpy, and then have to cook dinner and take measurements for my dissertation study. This left me very little time for the things I enjoy, with the Wimbledon fortnight passing without me watching many matches at all. This gave me a new fondness for weekends! At University, for me anyway, weekends are really just an extension of the week, especially in third year when you do not have that many contact hours throughout the week. I always spend the bulk of my weekend studying, and therefore I haven’t had this ‘Friday feeling’ that I had over the summer in a long time. I spent some amazing weekends in Gloucestershire visiting my boyfriend, riding my bike through the beautiful lanes, venturing up to Stratford Upon Avon, and exploring more of the UK. Although the 10 weeks in London over the summer were tough, it gave me the kickstart I needed for my graduate applications in the Autumn.
So in a nutshell, that was my 2017! I mostly spent the year trying new things (food, countries, sports), but keeping my work ethic the same! With all my friends so busy with Final year exams, applications and dissertations I haven’t been able to spend as much time with them as I would have liked, but the imperfections of 2017 are perfect for creating New Years Resolutions!
What is to come for 2018? I am really excited about this year; I think it is going to be one of the most memorable years I’ll ever have! Finally, after the last two years apart, I will be spending NYE with my boyfriend, which should kick the year off in the best possible way. I haven’t got any January exams this year, so despite lots of work on the dissertation, I am feeling more refreshed than the previous couple of years. Alex and I are starting the year with a short trip to Sweden in January, and then it’s back to the hard grind! I know this is going to be possibly the toughest term, with my dissertation to hand in, and 3 modules, as well as the looming finals! I’ve tried to get ahead with the dissertation, and hopefully, the effort from last term, and last year will get me to graduation with a grade I can be proud of! Just today I received my Interrail pass in the post, and I am so excited to explore Italy with my sister in the summer. I enter 2018 with a great deal of uncertainty – I am waiting to hear back about graduate opportunities, and so currently I don’t know what I will be doing or even which country I could find myself in, come the autumn of 2018. Instead of letting that unknown scare me, I am trying to be excited by it, and hope that my hard work and perseverance will propel me into a happy and exciting new chapter. So here’s to turning 21, graduating, planning my future, and travelling to new places and new cities in 2018! I hope it’s going to be a year to remember, in all the right ways.