& opinion


From the moment we squeeze our way successfully out of the womb, we are dying.

There are various ways to fill the time in between our birth and the inevitable (like eating, sleeping and watching telly. Come on, you know you've all done it), but there is no way that we can determine how we might pop our clogs. We can eat muesli for breakfast every day, give up the cancer- sticks and protect our liver from the evil drink, but it doesn't guarantee a nice, easy death with our grandchildren around us, reminiscing how great we were. I know this is a particularly morbid way of looking at things, especially as we are faced with the prospect of filling the next few weeks with frantically churning out essays and gnawing at our books like squirrels. Yet, I felt I had to write this, partly as a tribute to a friend of mine who died recently following a car crash. It's a cliché, but nothing can prepare you for death. This is not to list the reasons why I thought my friend was a superdooper mate (though it's tempting), suffice to say he was permanently full of the joys of spring, even if it was snowing outside. We had many drunken, joyous evenings wallowing in our youth, cavorting on pool tables and going a bit too fast on his motorbike. One evening with two of our friends was so notorious, we swore to take the delights of evening to the grave, so I just can't elaborate. None of us had any idea how soon he would take that secret with him, and how soon we would have to keep it without him.

Morbidity is not something I am wont to indulge in. Between freaking out about dissertations and having kittens left, right and centre about exams, I have found myself a little sliver of time to reassess things. So many of us are stressing until our eyeballs bulge, existing on a steady flow of caffeine as we struggle to achieve academic excellence. It seems that the be all and end all rests on shaking Dickie Attenborough's hand (is it his hand we shake this year? I do hope so!) and wearing a mortarboard on our head. Oh, and achieving academic excellence. But it's relative, isn't it?

A degree might get you a better job than stacking shelves in Sainsbury’s (actually, don't knock it. My brother is buying a BMW with his Sainser’s wages), but at the risk of sounding idealistic, it's happiness, health, and day to day interactions with the people that matter to you that count in the end. Not to suggest that everyone jacks in their study and heads off down the beach for a party - although it's a delightful prospect - just that in the midst of the lunacy that envelopes us this time of year, there is a need for a perspective about the whole thing. And remember: your predominant memories of university are going to be the people you have met. Enjoy the time you have with them - I cannot find a more fitting tribute to my friend than that.