That's it. I'm done. For the first time in as long as I can remember I am no longer in full-time education. My final hand-in date came and went a few weeks ago now and since then I've been enjoying all the things I'd previously not had time to do for quite a while owing to my heavy workload; things like reading, cooking proper meals, listening to music and going to concerts.
When it came to finally handing everything in, I felt reasonably happy. I had no final exams and my four, year-long modules were all assessed by portfolios of work to be handed in on the same day. I'm not great at managing my time even when there's lots of it to spare, this situation meant that there were instances where I sometimes had good idea but just knew I wouldn't be able to develop them thoroughly enough to use. Also, compositions and orchestrations are the kind of things that you can always go back to and re-revise, and ultimately you just have to stop and say it's finished, and just hope that it's in a reasonable state when this moment comes.
The hand-in day itself was really fun. The main Union bar was so full - full of many people I hadn't seen for ages, and there was a strange, contented atmosphere of anticlimactic relief. The bar itself looked like it was the site of a very tired party that had been going on for days, with piles of bottles and plastic cups all over the place, and a huge assortment of poorly arranged chairs, each with varying amounts of beer spilt on them.
The highlight came however as the final 5 o'clock deadline began to draw nearer, and the bar slowly emptied as people made their way to watch the Dissertation Dash. This phrase is quite a literal description of what happens, as here at the University of Sussex there is a long path between the Humanities office (where people collate their work) and the building where they hand in their work. This invariably means that as the last few minutes fade away, the poor people who've left their final adjustments a little later than they should have, can be seen running down the long strait to try and get their work in on time. And it's because of this that there is a tradition for everyone else to line along this path and cheer as our less organised comrades sprint to make their undignified way to finish their degree.
This might seem like a strange act - essentially applauding laziness, but to me it felt like a great community event that added some energy to an otherwise very tired day.