Letter to my younger self – The final semester (dissertation, graduation, what’s next, ahhhh!)

A series written for students by students in collaboration with PIR and the Edinburgh Political Union

Dear 4th year Maryam,

You’re at a crossroad. Actually, it’s more like a hectic roundabout with about twenty exits. Part of you is pushing yourself to work the hardest you’ve ever worked before. You want to make use of the last semester you have to boost your grade and end with a bang, to be proud of the four years of work and sweat and make it really meaningful.


Another part of you is exhausted. You’ve been working hard for ages now and you feel like it’s your time to enjoy your last semester; You want to be surrounded by the people you love and be out and about doing the things you love.

A small part of your brain is thinking about after graduation. What now? Job? Masters? Move home for a while and save some money? Travel? You feel privileged to have so many options but you’re confused and you keep going round and round and round.

You’re hearing a lot of clichés from your friends and family. This will climax in the quintessential graduation moment. Now, clichés are a necessary evil, they exist for a reason, but are extremely frustrating to hear. I’m sorry to say, “the world is not your oyster”. If anything you will definitely not even be able to afford oysters for the next few years.

On the other hand, these are some few pieces of advice in the form of clichés that I did find useful and wish I had taken more seriously at the time…

Have each other’s backs:  Support your friends and let yourself be supported. Everyone is going through this stressful time and it’s easy to get into a hole where all you can think about is your own plans and start panicking. Tell your friends. Let them help you. And in turn, listen to their anxieties. Saying them out loud sometimes makes it less scary and you’ll come to realize that everyone is in the same boat (wow another cliché!)

Believe in yourself:  Everyone is talking about plans after graduating. The same people have asked a few times because they’ve asked so many people they’ve forgotten already. Don’t get confused, stick to your general and pretty ambiguous plan. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do right now.

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See the bigger picture:  Your dissertation will come together. You can’t see it right now because you are so focused on one section, you’ve even changed the question a few times and you’re panicking about how you’ll even make it to 10,000 words. Deep breathe. Those 10,000 words will look a lot shorter in a few months, even annoyingly limiting. Remember that this is your chance to write about exactly what you wanted, whatever grade it gets, be proud of just that.

Work hard, play hard:  Keep working your a** off. Keep putting in the hours in the library. Don’t rush this process, set a few targets to do every day. Also, remember to reward yourself and the work you’ve done by going clubbing, cooking dinner for some pals and having a pint or two. Basically cut up your working time and don’t burn out.

Oh, one more thing. This doesn’t fit into a cliché but it’s important. CUT DOWN ON THE COFFEE. Four cups a day is draining your bank account and is making you look a bit manic.


Maryam Saade


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