Never Enough…

1 year, we all knew it was 1 year.  Every single one of us who signed on for this 1 year Master’s program at the University of Exeter knew… it was only 1 year.  With something so short term, it makes sense not to get attached.  I guess none of us got that memo.

We’ve all been thrown in to this accelerated, compressed course and have come to rely on each other in times of stress.  Family can only do so much when they don’t know the magnitude of having 5 assessments due in a period of a week and a half, or when you’ve just had a blissful two weeks in Kenya and all of a sudden you have to hit the ground running and get back to doing literature reviews, presentations, and statistics assignments.  In times like that, the best people to lean on are those in the trenches with you.  Those friends who have spent entire nights in the MSc suite, library, or locked in their room typing away … drinking more tea and coffee than a “regular” person would deem necessary.

So while your gut would tell you not to get attached to anyone on this short course, you really can’t help it.  It’s as if we’re on an island and we have constantly relied on each other to survive.  These people who I have known for a matter of months have literally become like family to me, turning into brothers and sisters during our climb to academic greatness.  When i saw these strong bonds beginning to form in September and October I knew that July would be tough when most of us went our separate ways.  I didn’t consider that I would have to say goodbye to so many people in March…

Many of my fellow students have chosen to do their MSc projects in amazing places; Africa, Australia, France, Utila, Uganda..just to name a few. It didn’t occur to me that these people would be leaving early to carry out their respective sampling trips, and that some of them wouldn’t be coming back.  I don’t know if I can cope with that.  These people who I was just getting to know, or didn’t get to spend enough time with (is it ever enough though?) are moving on to the next stages of their life, and I didn’t prepare myself.  I figured I still had a solid 5 months to get myself mentally ready to say goodbye.

I sat in the pub last night, sipping on my pint, watching the commotion around me.  It was a nice sized group we had.  Some people were grouped up talking, others danced to the live music.  Smiles flashed everywhere, laughs were constant.  Things seems to slow down as I removed myself from all of it to watch from the outside.  I really wanted to take that moment in so I could hold it and draw from it when I wrote this. I decided in that moment how I would deal with the ephemeral nature of this moment, and of this course.

Though our group is already beginning to break up and people are beginning to move on, we will always have the memory of this course.  To quote the classic tim Casablanca: “We’ll always have Paris”.  We must just take this course for what it is, a snapshot of time in our lives, something short and wonderful that we can always think back to.  The advent of Facebook and other social media outlets will make it possible for all of us to easily keep in touch (though many won’t).  This course will serve as a snapshot from our lives, just like the memory from the pub is a snapshot of last night.

If you’re ever lucky enough to realize a special moment while it’s happening (as opposed to reflecting on it afterwards), I recommend everyone do what I did last night … jump in the middle and start to dance, make the most of the moment, and hang on to it forever.

Become a part of this journey with me!
Check out my website
Follow me on Twitter: @sharkynichol

Till next time,


About mdnichol87

Marine Biologist studying towards a Master's in Conservation and Biodiversity at the University of Exeter.
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