A letter to the Class of 2020

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Dear Class of 2020,

I hope this letter finds you well, and though a lot of plans were cancelled and this is not the goodbye we expected, now more than ever we can find gratitude for our health and safety above everything.

It’s hard for me to get my head around the fact that our time in education, not only in Manchester but in our lives, has come to an end (those of you planning Masters and PhD study Godspeed) and we’re really graduating now, from one of the best universities in the world might I add. This is no small or easy feat. Whether you celebrate at home with a self-isolation style dissertation photoshoot or a homemade cake, this is a big day for all of us no matter how small it may seem with no event to mark it.

The road to university and through university was not easy. The sleepless night before A-level results day, the excitement of finding out you were going to be attending university in this wonderful city (however that came to be), the late nights cramming your brain till it was as packed as the buses to Fallowfield full of formulas and theories, the essays you toiled over for weeks (or days), the balancing of the 30 societies, the nights out and the 9am lectures the day after. All of it lead us to now. Regardless of how long or difficult your university journey was, you made it to this moment. I hope you’re proud of yourself.

It’s hard enough to say goodbye when you’re ready, but when it takes you by surprise, like this, it’s that little bit harder. We all have unsaid goodbyes – the sobbing long hug types, meetups that never happened, tutors and lecturers you never got to thank, places you didn’t get to see but thought you’d have more time to and so much more, but those can be saved for later. Soon we will be back for our (postponed) last hurrah, to cheers properly and don the grad cap in our Manchester. To take that picture under the famous University of Manchester arch we all planned for three years. However, for now, we wait patiently and know that health and safety is everyone’s number one priority.

I am terrified of moving forward, as I’m sure many of you are. Education is all we’ve really known since we were age 3-4 making finger paints in nursery and now we’re done, thrust out into the world of work, whatever, wherever and whenever that may be. We don’t know how the job market and economy will look after this, and we may not for a while. This has thrown any plans we had for the next steps out the window – as if it wasn’t hard already. Don’t feel any pressure to secure anything right away, I am sure your very involved (nosy) family members can understand on this one occasion. Take some time to revel in your achievement, to look introspectively at what skills you have and the jobs they may suit, to research and plan or simply to take a breather. No job is too small, this period has proved that more than anything.

It might not be what we wanted, it might not be easy but we’ve been through worse. We are the class that saw the breakup of One Direction, the retirement of JLS, the political uncertainty of Brexit and Trump’s election and the end of Vine for starters…

I think we’re strong enough to navigate anything.

Lastly, to our Manchester, a place I’m missing far more than I thought I would and I know others are too. The love letter I wrote to you in February said a lot, but it didn’t nearly explain how deeply you have become embedded in who I am. In who we are.

I miss that sunny friendly accent. I miss the liveliness of Oxford road. I miss saying ‘To Piccadilly please’. I miss my lovely lecturer Dawn. I miss the business school and the campus I can now navigate like the back of my hand. I miss perusing the Whitworth Gallery on a Sunday afternoon. I miss the cafes and shops in the NQ. I miss the food…so much. Rudy’s, Common, Salt n Pepper and Wholesome Junkies. I even miss the familiar grey overcast clouds.

I don’t want to say goodbye, I want to say see you later.

I don’t know when but I know it will happen because a little part of me will always belong with you.

See you soon Manchester and the Class of 2020,

A fellow ‘Class of 2020’ student.

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