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…