I went back to Aberystwyth today. I needed to look at the stack of dissertations they keep as reference documents – I’m nearly halfway through my first draft and had some questions about layout that I knew I could only answer properly by looking at examples. It was a long way to go for a couple of hours in the library, but luckily my parents will take any excuse for a day by the sea.
I was last in Aberystwyth in June, I had to go and sit my final exam for this course. (I’d love to think it was my last ever exam but I’m sure at some point I’ll be doing more studying). It was another brief stay, I was there for less than 24 hours. I found it a little weird to be back after a year away, today it was weirder still.
So much has changed since last June. Departments have changed buildings and even campuses. The little library I spent so many hours in both studying and working is now home to the law library amongst others. With the huge collection of books has come a new computer room, new desks and even a mini branch of the student union shop. The desk I used to sit behind whilst at work doesn’t exist any more, the very fact I was able to go in on a Sunday is as a result of this progress. To my utter shame the photocopiers have all been upgraded and were entirely beyond me, another student had to take pity on me and show me how to get my printing!
The changes didn’t end there. Once I was finished with the dissertations, and my parents had been and seen how the seafront was faring after the huge storms earlier this year, we called in to the restaurant attached to my former halls of residence for a cuppa before we got back on the road. Ta Med Da has also had a face lift; warm terracotta walls have given way to trendy blues, the old comfy leather seating has been replaced by slightly less comfy seating covered in bold stripy fabric and are now partnered with brightly coloured plastic chairs. Even the food has changed, they now have a “cake of the day” – we all spotted the fact that today’s was gluten free carrot cake and remarked about how far they’ve come.
For two years Aberystwyth was my home. I moved there to start my new life, the fresh start that I desperately needed for so many reasons. I had happy times there, I had hard times there, but regardless I began the process of working out who I was going to be there. Like all best made plans mine changed, distance learning was never meant to be part of mine. Whilst I’m glad for the perspective it has given me, a part of me has found it hard to let go of the idea of how things might have panned out if I’d been able to complete my third year in Aberystwyth.
Today was a great reminder that this time is now firmly in my past. It was nice to go and visit, but it no longer feels comfortable and familiar. Aberystwyth has changed, and so have I. It’s time to look to the future and new pastures rather than continuing to wonder what might have been.