Each episode is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. As the world emerges from pandemic paralysis, are our Class of 2021 feeling inspired or inhibited, glad or gloomy, chaotic or calm? In this episode we meet Maths graduate Lauryn who shares her story and her insight.
Welcome to Season 2, a little bit of the same but quite a lot different. Each month we meet five more graduates from the Class of 2021. Subscribe now and find out what everyone is up to and how they feel about life, the last 12 months and future plans.
All opinions expressed are those of the individual and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Edinburgh.
Multi Story Edinburgh has been created and produced by the Alumni Relations team at the University of Edinburgh. If you are interested in telling your story, please get in touch and let's talk.
Music: Since When by Mise Darling from freemusicarchive.org
Artwork: Vector created by redgreystock from www.freepik.com
Sonia 0:09 This is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. This is season two, Class of 2021. A little bit the same, but quite a lot different.
Lauryn 0:21 My name is Lauryn Mwale and I just finished my degree in Maths.
I've had enough, I guess, space away from my books and from those concepts to feel like it was, you know, a different chapter, a different person, a whole different phase that, you know, naturally came to an end and I, I was talking to my boyfriend yesterday, and I was like, I have so many lecturers who I just like, think so fondly of and I want to start like retro-actively journaling. So that I can like remember all, like the moments in lectures, with my course mates, with my close friends and kind of with them, because there, there have been some personalities over the years.
I've always loved writing, I've always loved reading, so on and off since I was really young, I've had a journal. I'm terrible at keeping it. I am not the type of person who everyday will be like 'Today I went to the meadows'. I can't do that. What I do do is every time something feels consequential, I do really try to concretize my feelings and thoughts at that moment. So that like, you know, for some abstract older version of me, I get to look back and be like, 'wow, this -- these were the thought processes at 21. Interesting.' So I have had a journal throughout uni. I've got better at it in second year, for whatever reason. I think that was when I most struggled with my mental health as well, so it was a good outlet. And yeah, I have really vivid, just snapshots and little -- I'm calling them little videos because I write very descriptively. So when I read them, I'm like, that's where I was, and that was the temperature, and that's what it smelt like and all of those things. And it's already, I mean, I've barely graduated and already, it's so nice to look back and be like, 'Wow, this is, so this is where we were.' But I've seen myself become a lot more meditative, kind of because these are journal entries. So they're just -- the way of framing things now is so much more, I guess, forgiving and comprehensive. Now I'm, I think me at 16 or me I'd, like I think 18 I came to uni, was very selfish. I am the star of my own show that's happening. But now, when I read entries I wrote two months ago or even a year ago, there's so much more just appreciation of I am one unique individual living a whole big story amongst other people's stories. Because it's really surprising to live through a pandemic. And just what the government demanded of us was like, stay at home and be good and wear your mask. And I was just like, cool, I'm gonna stay at home and shop on every Thursday. And that's gonna be my like afternoon out of the house. And then when you realise this is like a semi-permanent situation. That was when I became I guess, proactive about saying, I should check on people, I should really just call people and text and be like, 'Hi, how is your mom? How are you? Don't say fine, because I think you'd be lying.' But COVID had everyone, you know, having reunions Zooms and I had some of those. And it was nice to be able to celebrate people's small wins. While kind of the big things in the world were out of our hands.
I very fortunately was able to secure a grad role really early in the school year via an internship. So I've, I've known that I was going to move to London and have a job since September. But that was also around lockdown three. So, who knew I was moving, it was still like a weird intransient moment. And knowing that brought me a lot of like peace and security to, I mean, I guess for lack of a better word, be creative about how I kind of spent my time in this final year and I spent good chunks of it writing a book that I'm still editing, and editing is horrible. Now that I'm officially a graduate, now that I've gotten my degree and now that I've seen, I guess, my dissertation grade, I guess that's concretized my wanting to pursue further study in statistics. I have always loved stats ever since it was introduced to me. It's a big chunk of why I pursued a master's degree to begin with. But then I really dislike online uni. I did not enjoy the last year. It's not for me, it doesn't align with my learning preferences and needs. And because I knew that, I always knew I was gonna like get my job and wait this out. And when University begins to look like what it looked like in 2017 when I got here, then I'll, you know, maybe return to Edinburgh, maybe go somewhere else.
I guess I'm more set in my academic interests because of, you know, finishing this degree and I love having that clarity. But equally I'm very set on waiting it out because yeah in a lot of ways this was not a great academic experience, not a great university experience, kind of outside of the school stuff, the other aspects. And I am not so desperate to get my master's in statistics that I'm going to end up, you know, back in the situation stuck alone in my room trying to get through the content.
I was, I was thinking about this today, I would sit in packed lecture theatres, like, packed, humid. The lecture is there on the chalkboard. And I think of those so [unintelligible] - when they were happening, it was terrible. It was too hot. But now I'm like, wow, that is the university experience we were promised in movies and books, and I got it. And someone who enrolled last year doesn't yet know what that feels like. They didn't -- did I have a fourth year? Who knows? But I made friends in my third year. I made friends across the degree. But three years in, you're like, I know, this place. I know everything. And you're so settled by your third year. But I was still encountering new restaurants, still meeting people who, for whatever reason, I had never met or spoken to before. And I love and adore them and they're coming with me to the next chapter of my life. And it's just like, wow, all I did was stroll into a society event. And there are all kinds of errors that have occurred across the four years personally. And, of course, like the academic cartridges, like the first two years are like, do well, but ah and then like, third and fourth it's like, no, now it's game time. You need to, you need to get this done.
I almost keep forgetting that COVID happened such that when I think about uni, I do picture memories before the lockdown. I am mentally in March 2020. And I'm like, oh, yeah, when I sat at that desk in the library, and then I have to remind myself, you couldn't return to the library for months.
I'm one of those students who has been asking lecturers questions, because I'm an international student and this is expensive. So I'm like, excuse me, hi, I don't understand. And I come with this expectation that it's their job to help me. And so I attended lots of office hours and that was a good thing. And you know, anyone in first year, second year, third year, please speak to your lecturers. But yeah in my head, I'm like, oh, yeah, when I went to this lecturer's office to ask him about this assignment, that was a very long time ago. I didn't do that in my fourth year because how [unintelligible] - I do not, I have the worst Zoom fatigue, I quickly - I'm too tired for it. I, I'm so mentally fried from the things that I had to do that this thing that is, that I know is good for me, and I know it's positive, I don't have the bandwidth for.
Living in Edinburgh gave me this terrible elasticity, where I'd see something interesting and be like, I'll go there eventually. And I had eventually, I had, you know, not an infinite number of days but I had, I had years ahead of me to build those experiences. But then what happens is, you're busy hanging out with your friends at your one favourite restaurant and going to your one favourite coffee shop and staying home and going to uni and going out at night. And you just never get to that list of cool places that one day you get to. And if I could go back in time and tell myself, like a few things, I'd say, Hey, stop, stop postponing. If you have an afternoon, go. If you have a weekend, go. I know right now you think that you're going to be here forever, but magically and suddenly, forever is over.
We grossly overestimate what we can achieve in one day. But we severely underestimate what we can achieve in a year, or in a four year degree. So it's a combination of not being too hard on yourself, because one essay didn't get a great grade, or one week was kind of hard and slushy, when it's like, have a big picture of what you want to happen across a year and break it down into smaller parts. And maybe those smaller parts become healthy habits that you adapt. And maybe it's like, right in February, I have to do this thing. And yeah, just be really intentional about how you're living this experience. And you, you get to the end of the four years or the five years or however many years you're going to be a student at Edinburgh University. And you would have achieved all the big things and really enjoyed all the little things and gotten many, many surprises. As much as I'm like, I wish there was no pandemic and I wish this and I wish that and I wish all kinds of things, ultimately, it's been absolutely lovely.
Sonia 9:30 We also ask our graduates to share a place somewhere special, somewhere we can get together when all this is finished.
Lauryn 9:38 But I guess a place for me would be just like one of the, one of the many, many lovely independent coffee shops and cafes, where I've gone and sat down for hours to read a book. Edinburgh is the place to read and write. You -- there's, there's something so romantic about the city. And I had this habit because on Wednesdays I had lectures, it was absolutely lovely. And I told my friends like if you want to see me, I'm not taking phone calls. If you want, if you need to speak to me, I will be at Lovecrumb. I'd be there from like 2pm to like closing. I'd be there for as late as I possibly could go, usually very dramatically reading a book of poetry. And [laughs] and yeah, right, that was, that was my place. And they're so nice, they're such lovely people that work there. Their baked treats are great. Once, I had a cake there once and I immediately went to my friend, I was like for my birthday, I would like it [laughs], I would like you to get like this cake from Lovecrumb. If you don't get it I will not be disappointed but if you do get it ... The last University iteration of me that had that, you know, real true Edinburgh academic and social experience would drag everyone to Lovecrumb.
Sonia 10:55 Thank you for listening. Join us next time for another graduate and another story.
Kate 11:13 I hope you've enjoyed meeting members of our University of Edinburgh community. To connect with more join Platform One, our online meeting place for students, alumni and staff of the University. To find out more search Platform One Edinburgh.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai