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Articles > April, 01, 2011

It must be love!

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Lots of people find love at university, including our future monarch and his lovely bride to be. We’re all looking forward to their Big Day on 29th of this month, I’m sure!  This month’s Article of the Month celebrates finding love at university and managing that fine balancing act between work and play! – Ed

A Physics teacher once told my class that we shouldn’t bother with boy/girlfriends for the next year or two – in fact, those of us in relationships should dump and get rid as soon as possible; exams and revision were that important. The most worrying thing about his advice was that this was only at GCSE. Imagine his advice to undergrads…

Still, the man had a PhD, as well as a wife and children, so he’d obviously managed to make it work out. With that in mind, I followed his advice and stayed resolutely single for the next four years. I maintain that was my reason, and it has nothing to do with being stereotypically hopeless with women.

My teacher’s point was that relationships are distracting, and who needs distracting when there are exams to be passed? You’ve got the rest of your life for finding the perfect partner, right? But exams…they’ll only come round once, twice if you can re-sit. And that’s surely the obvious argument against relationships at university: time and effort devoted to a relationship are time and effort not devoted to study. And why are we at university if not to study? What’s the point of being there (and paying x-thousand pounds for it) if not to pass a degree?

Well, actually, there are lots of other things. University is about more than just the degree, as any undergrad knows. Leaving home for the first time is often the beginning of major character-forming; in those few years we learn who we really are. We learn just as much outside the lecture theatre as we can inside it – but no one’s going to let you sit an exam in downing pints.

I got to university without having had much, shall we say, experience. Hey, my exam results were great. But only because of time not spent on interacting with people (men as well as women). I was on course to be highly-qualified, but eternally single. I needed some character-forming, and I wasn’t going to get that just by burying my head in books.

When I met my soon-to-be girlfriend (at University, where HRH William and Kate met), she was – I admit – a bit of a distraction. I was supposed to be studying the transportation of Jewish children across Nazi-occupied France, but somehow the prospect of spending time getting to know her (ahem…) was more appealing. I know, I know, love does funny things to us.

But what a distraction she was. She was (still is) exactly what I needed to bring me out of my academic haze. The experiences I had outside my degree needed someone sparking them off, pushing me a bit. I needed a reason to do non-academic stuff, something to distract me from getting hung up on results. Cue the girlfriend. A distraction, perhaps, but sometimes the distractions make up the fabric of life.

She made my university life what it was, and she still gives my life context and purpose now that exams and essays are over. There’s a lot of living to do post-graduation, and I’m quite happy for her to distract me through the rest of it.

Don’t get me wrong; university can be fatal for relationships. I’ve seen several falling apart under the strain of it all. Generally, though not always, they were relationships that had been going for maybe a year at most before the move to university happened, and the physical separation did it for them. Sometimes one partner (or both) just realised they weren’t that bothered about the relationship any more.

Which all feeds into my wider point: university goes a long way to forming who you are, changes your priorities and your experiences, makes you want more or different things – but the things you decide on at university are the things that really do matter. Those are the things that decide your personality and preferences for the rest of your life, so when you’re meeting potential partners at university, they might just be the right sort of people for who you’ve become…let’s hope you’re right for them too…

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  1. Amit Patel

    i am gitas boyfriend and i do fulltime work i am a manager in retail and i work preety much all the time. i be honest with everyone and that’s i have seen life the hard way and thats made me understood that education is very important.
    I give gita the time to study in which i will never come in that parth i will always make sure that education always comes first and i come second as with out that you could never get a good decent job and never get to right parth in life that you want to.
    I say that if your partner is uni then you always give them that time to study and to always support them and never allow them break away from that concentration otherwise everything will start going wrong. And if you love that person then you will never let go of them no matter what happens between you to and how many arguments and problems you go through this is life and its part of something that as couples you will go though. I cant say how students feel and do as i have never exprienced that but i can say from a fulltime workers point of view that work and money dose not come first in life cause whats the point working and earning the money if you can not enjoy it with the person you love.

  2. Scarlett

    I met my husband in my first year of University. He was in the year above me and although initially we were both very distracted (I confess to not attending any of my lectures for three weeks) thankfully we were both at a point in our studies when being a bit distracted had no lasting effect on our degrees.

    However, as things became more serious over the next year and a half, and he drew close to finishing University while I was still in my second year; that could have been a major breaking point. Instead we found that having each other provided encouragement and support when we needed it. He’s not as academically minded as I am, so when he began to get writer’s block on his dissertation, I helped him through it and made him aim higher. He, on the other hand, helped stop me from disappearing for days on end in the library and never seeing sunlight.

    Clearly it could have been difficult when he finished his degree and moved back in with his parents, leaving me still at university, but instead he worked on getting a job near our university and moved back within just a few months. He then helped support me so that I didn’t have to work during my final year, allowing me to get the best degree I possibly could.

    I think that university is an amazing opportunity to meet your life-partner. Never again will you be in an environment filled with people the same age, with many of the same interests and goals as you and with the time and freedom to be able to get to know people in a way that is very difficult when you’re at work. It’s all very well to concentrate on your studies and achieve a good degree, which in turn will lead to a good job, successful career and hopefully monetary peace-of-mind. But really life is at its most enjoyable when you’re surrounded by people you love and who love you. And I think that having a family, and someone to share your successes with is much more satisfying than being married to your job.

    I’ll have been with my husband for six years tomorrow, and married for nearly one. Despite going to university for a good degree (which I did get), I think the life experience gained is an underrated but absolutely crucial part of why people should go to university, and is what many people miss when they take vocational routes or get straight on the career path instead.

  3. Gita Mistry

    Hello, i am currently with a boyfriend. I started dating him in May 2009 and i used to live in Bristol and he is in London. So we didnt get to see eachother much! But then i came to Kingston Uni on sept 2010. Where i thought personally that i’d get distracted by the boyfriend as he is in London too and leave uni work…But my boyfriend said to me, “If you have uni work to do, you do that first then i will come and see you”. Which made me do my uni work! It was like if i hadnt had him there i probably would have done my work but 2/3 days before deadline. But this way i wanted to DO my work!

    I now see my boyfriend either once a month or every 2 weeks, i prefer this, i have learnt a lot about myself and also the boyfriend as i am able to have more time spending with him. Also my family are happy how i have coped with this and i feel that if you and your partner understand when there is work to do it needs to be done. Then relationships are no problem, yes u have your ups and downs but then again who doesnt.

    I would still say that single is better because the amout of arguments i have been through with the boyfriend about me going clubbing etc and not calling him or texting him. Being Single is good! But if you want to be in a relationship act sensibly about it. Be mature about silly situations and just because your friend has a partner doesn’t mean you need one too!

    If you do end up breaking up, dont think it’s the end of the world because it isn’t, you have family friends a life! What more do you want..?