By Charlie Knights
“… Yes Mother, I’m perfectly well fed. No, I don’t need anything. Yes, I know computers are difficult what’s broken this time. No don’t click on that, oh you did it anyway. Sure, an eighth cup of tea would be fine…”
I always find coming home over holidays a weird experience. I love being in Cardiff, and going from a flat capital city that I can walk around with ease, to a place where I hitch a 15-minute lift to the nearest bus stop to then take a 40-minute (on a good day) bus into the nearest town. By which point, I’m in Aylesbury, so really the effort is a bit more than it’s worth.
This becomes a conversation I have often with a lot of my friends upon returning, the back and forth of yes, I am having a lovely time, gosh it is nice to see family… “totes bored tho”. You spend your time trying to catch up with home friends, and your siblings, and spending time with your parents (and more importantly the contents of your parent’s fridge), but after a while the call of your university town calls back to you. You spend restless nights dreaming of crossing the Severn bridge and finding out what else is going on with your flatmates, who is falling out with who, and what weird event is going on that weekend.
It leaves me to wonder if this is something to feel guilty about? As the conversation snippet above suggests my mother loves having me home (I mean, why wouldn’t you, I’m a delight), and gets rather excited. I feel bad suggesting that I am bored, or that I am rushing back to university, that I miss my housemates that I live with the other ten months of the year. After a while of hanging out I also end up feeling like I am taking advantage, that I am just another mouth to feed? Is it wrong for us to question the validity of these trips home, are we too old, are we a burden?
The answer I think across the board is a resounding ‘no’ from parents and family alike. And it’s the same answer for if you should feel guilty. It’s only natural that change from a completely independent lifestyle to back in a world where you are living under someone else’s roof and someone else’s rules. No longer can you wake up surrounded by half-crushed cans of stella and an empty bottle of lambrini on a Tuesday morning, and you can’t just grab your house keys and leave without letting your mam know if you’ll be back for tea. But university is a time to experience and grow, become someone that you weren’t before, and I don’t think it’s wrong to need to come home every so often to see the parentals and look at where you came from to properly understand where you are going (side note: that last line was so cheesy I might have to get it printed for my new line of inspirational office posters).
When it comes to the boredom that often invades your quiet mid-afternoon nap, you’ve got to find ways to self-improve and keep going. Get yourself a job, and start burning through that messy overdraft that seemed like such needed VKs at the time. Hang out with your childhood friends, and try not to think about how you have collected a few friends at uni very similar to them. Do the extra reading on your course sheet, or get a start on that pesky dissertation research. Go out to your home town club and listen to a DJ talk through half of Stacy’s Mom as you dance embarrassingly with your old teacher on a light up floor. Experience all the joys of home.
If you get lucky enough it still isn’t too late to look at an internship. Whilst most places will have been filled months ago, it might be worth considering companies you are interested in (especially smaller or local ones) and asking them what they have going. Anything to boost the CV in these downtime months can never be a bad thing, and you might find a dream company willing to hire you at the end of the degree.
In the summer of my second year I got myself a pub job, and worked that most days each week. It gave me money for the occasional night out, and paid for freshers week when I got back. I used the evenings to plan what I was going to do in the next year, how I would get involved (Hint: the contributor groups for Cardiff Student Media are up and always looking for new writers) with different societies and the like.
One summer you will eventually move out, and not move back in the next July. So, you might as well make the most of it whilst you can. And if my cliched and obvious advice from someone with less life experience than they pretend to have doesn’t help, at least I manged to burn up five minutes of your time reading this.
Got to go now though, Mum says the computer is broken (side note: she forgot to plug in the mouse).
Remember to tweet your opinions of this article and what you want to see in future updates @KnightsCharlie or with #AskAtYourOwnRisk