What next?

My 4 years at university have officially come to an end. I guess it’s time to embrace the adult world! Orrrrr maybe not….?

It’s quite a surreal thing – being a graduate. I mean, firstly, I don’t feel at all like a grown up. People are legit talking about marriage and career ladders and I’m still watching back to back New Girl episodes and convincing myself that a diet consisting solely of pizza is nutritious. Secondly, I can’t remember actually getting my degree. Yeah, sure there were times of pure, 24/7 library stress but I don’t remember those moments anywhere near as clearly as I remember all the fun that I’ve had. These really have been the best 4 years of my life and my heart aches a little when I think about leaving it all behind.

Last minute essay rush

Last minute essay rush

Unlike most of my friends, I decided to hang around in Bath over summer to carry on with my jobs and save some more money. I had a goal of £3500 and I’m super proud to say that I earnt every penny of that in just a few months! It wasn’t all that glamourous going from one job to another, setting alarms for 5am, not reaching my bed again until 1am, being around people 24/7 and having to keep a smiley customer-service face on regardless of the circumstances. One of my jobs even involved scrubbing toilets (I took this in hopes that I could sing “Started from the bottom now we here” with meaning in a few years – we’ll see). Might sound grim but when I look back, I can see why I stuck it out.

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Summer Schooling’ – Easily my favourite job of the 3!

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Best University in the wooooorld

It’s been the first summer that I’ve spent in the UK for a very long time and I’ve actually loved it. To be able to say goodbye to my beloved city of Bath in my own time, hang out with my family and visit friends in different cities. I honestly feel ready to let go of this stage of my life and I don’t think I’d have been able to do that as easily if I’d moved back home straight away.

It’s funny how much has changed since 2012 when I left school – the different people that have popped in and out of my life and the different countries that I’ve lived in but, most importantly, the different life goals that I have now. Clichè alert! ‘Ooh, look how much I’ve grown and how much awareness I’ve gained’… but that’s basically what I’m saying #sorrynotsorry.

Going from straight A*’s at A-level to wondering if I’d even get a 2.1 at degree level (I did though – no idea how – the education system is weird). I realised that there was more to life than my exam results and I decided to start focusing on things that I was interested in rather than things I thought I was supposed to be interested in. I feel super inspired and driven, right now, to live a life that leaves a positive mark on the world, to do everything with kindness and grace (and to apologise when I slip up on that goal), to save my money for adventures instead of material items and to work really, really hard at something that makes me want to wake up in the morning.

gradcole

Enough sentimental statements. What’s the plan now? It’s quite scary that for the first time ever there’s nobody else telling us what to do. When you leave primary school you know that you’ll head to secondary school and then to sixth form and then to university. But after university, it’s a case of ‘Now what?’. I know a lot of my friends hate the prospect of not knowing what comes next but I can’t get enough of the freedom!

I’m not taking the obvious graduate route that’s for sure. There’s no ’30k a year’ job lined up, no flat hunting in London and definitely no trip to Thailand. I’ll be moving to New Zealand to work for a year come this November and then after that I’m looking into Masters programmes or maybe I’ll hang around with the Kiwis for a little bit longer… who knows?

Before all of that though, I’m going to be putting my hard earned savings from this year to good use. Having recruited 2 of the best people in existence (Alice and Abbie, you’ll get to know them all too well soon enough), backpacking Central America became less of a potential travel plan and more of an ‘Oh, shit, we really just bought flights to Panama’. It happened very quickly, I’ll admit that… but that’s how I knew that these guys were the perfect people to travel with. There was no um-ing and ah-ing or ‘Sounds great, let me think about it first though’ vibes – it was just a mutual, spontaneous entering of PIN numbers… ha!

LOOK HOW ADORABLE THEY ARE!

We booked our flights through STA travel because they always find the best deals but we decided to go for the true backpacker tradition of not booking accommodation or tours and just doing it all as we go along (it works out a lot cheaper for any of you fellow budgeters). We did decide to book a hostel for our first few nights in Panama and let’s just say it was an interesting experience. Abbie somehow found herself in charge of payment but never actually received a confirmation email. We decided to give hostelworld a ring to see what was going on and turns out that Abbie had typed her email address as Abe.Hammond not just once, but three times…

This can only be a sign of the chaos to come, right? Pray for Tara, Alice and Abe.

We land in Panama City on August 10th and fly out of Mexico City on October 26th. How we get from A to B is still very much unknown but we’ve drafted out a rough route which you can check out below!

Panama to Mexico - Let's go!

Panama to Mexico – Let’s go!

There’s still a lot of organisation to be done and bags to be packed – I’ll make sure to keep you guys posted with my progress. Plus, I’m going to be live-blogging from Central America, so please excuse the undoubtedly shitty formatting and grammar mistakes. I won’t have a laptop or a Mother who spellchecks me, so you’ll have to make do with whatever my phone comes up with. No more waiting until I’m home to write and no more setting my posts to private – we’re all in this together (my HSM quote count has been dangerously low recently, I think we all needed that)

So, please, if you’ve been to Central America then go ahead and share your advice! If you haven’t made it there yet, then feel free to live vicariously through my photos. But, most importantly, wherever you guys are in the world celebrating your summers (and to all you graduates, your newly found freedom) I hope you’re making the most of every second!

¡Hasta pronto!
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