I’m trying to cast my memory back to a mere four months ago. What immediately comes to mind is not what kind of summer I had, what songs were played on the radio, or even that I left the country for a week. What I can recall, with near-perfect clarity, is the maddening frustration of waiting for the A-level exam results. I don’t think non-students realise how unforgiving this long wait is – you’re stuck in a kind of no-mans land.
For the majority of us, it’s not only a question of if we’ll get in to University but where. For my partner and I, my A-level results were the difference between an exciting, new life in Swansea and staying in Llanelli (Swansea’s little twin and our home town). We were desperate to move from our tiny terraced home, with it’s concrete-grey garden, persistent damp and reputation as the local slug hotspot. We were genuinely convinced that once we knew what direction we were going in, everything would fall into place.
What a poor turn of judgement that turned out to be. In reality, the moment I clutched my confirmation letter from Swansea it set in motion the ugly rat-race that is end of summer house hunting. It was a source of endless annoyance that the many houses which had sat dormant throughout the summer months were suddenly being snapped up quicker than we could make a phone call.
Even if we did manage to arrange a viewing, nine times out of ten the property would never look as good as it did on the website. I remember the house that needed an eight-foot fence to keep out the wilderness on the other side. The cat that slinked out of an upstairs bedroom. Arriving at one viewing to find two of my best mates perched on a near by wall, one of whom seemed to have very quickly become an expert in house hunting. Not to mention one of my mother’s classic observations to a rather amused estate agent – “I’ve heard that there are druggies living in the area!” (She mouthed the word as if they were lurking behind that eight-foot fence).
September 26th came and went. By this point, we were half-heartedly packing for the house we didn’t yet have. This, along with delayed student finance, didn’t make for a particularly pleasant Freshers’ Week (I still caught the flu, without any of the fun, which I find quite unfair). Success finally came at the end of week two, in the form of a light, spacious house in Fforest Fach, twenty minutes from the city centre – too bad that our half-hearted packing meant that the night before the removal van got there, we were frantically shoving anything within reach into bin bags, boxes, even the cage for the cats. It took a further two weeks and many car trips with our exasperated parents to finally shift everything.
Our new house is perfect – particular because if you stand at the right angle in the lush garden, you can see a blanket of patchy hills in the horizon and behind those, is Llanelli. So perfect is it to us, in fact, that we didn’t even mind when we first opened a window only to have a living nest of flies fall onto the bedroom floor. Well, we are still students after all.