UN & Uni: When the future imposes on the present

Hayden Banks 30 January 2015

It’s a funny life. After acclimatizing relatively smoothly to my home surroundings over the holidays I began to ponder how startlingly quickly everything was rushing by. My first term of Cambridge was over.

It seemed only yesterday I was antagonising over the personal statement and quivering at the prospect of describing a banana at interview. Of course I need not have worried about the latter, but what I wasn’t quite prepared for was the feeling that struck, about mid-way through Michaelmas, of longing to return to the security and contentment of sixth form and home life.

I have no plan – or to clarify, I had a plan, but studying at Cambridge has illuminated my former naivety and ignorance. But oh how it was bliss: I imagined I would network, graduate, and then seamlessly embark on a career at the United Nations or work as a diplomat. That plan was scuppered by Week 2. A ‘Working for the UN’ talk denounced my hopes as unrealistic to say the least, because – oh yes – you need to speak a minimum of 5 languages (not sure that my Welsh or the remnants of high-school French will suffice), preferably have a PhD, and survive the seemingly endless aptitude tests and interviews.

Moreover, I am admittedly the least independent person at university (I nearly didn’t get here at all after travelling on an outdated railcard), and even the washing machines had me flummoxed upon arrival. I also find myself questioning how I ever thought I’d manage my finances whilst living and travelling internationally when half of my student loan was spent by the second week on takeaway pizza and midweek trips to Fez.

Nonetheless, I’ve come to the realisation that we can, and should, dare to dream. While it’s true that sixth-form was comfortable and risk-free, it was definitely mundane in comparison to Cambridge. Scary though it may seem, I look forward to the day when, after tossing my graduation hat into the air, I realise that I can view university with the same fondness, and long for its security, as I did my sixth-form days as a fresher.