It’s been a while since I wrote my last college confidential, and if I’m completely honest, I wasn’t sure if I would ever write one again. Depressing maybe, but also wholly logical for three very good reasons. First, over the past two years my life and Beijing have been steadily going their separate ways. My family has just relocated back to the UK after a formidable five-year stint in the capital, and without a family to visit or the money to fund it, my trips to Beijing are set to become increasingly less frequent. Second, and more importantly, in approximately eight months I will no longer be a university student. Gulp. But the third and final reason requires a little more explanation.
What a difference two years have made! Since I first picked up the metaphorical pen for my first column, we’ve seen the 2008 Olympics, a global recession, the election of Barack Obama, and the resignation of Fidel Castro. I’ve been through some dramatic changes myself (some of which I’ve been able to share with you in this column), like departing Beijing, obtaining my A-Level results, participating in the Great North Run, as well as the loss of my gran. But that old enemy, time, keeps creeping up, and around Christmas last year, I suddenly realized that my time at university was running out and I needed to start looking to the future. I needed to look for a job.
With typically perfect timing, my job hunting began slap-bang in the middle of a global recession. My initial attempts were both hugely optimistic and suitably fruitless. I went from applying online for various summer jobs, to calling companies directly, to marching through the streets of Durham, Derby and North Wales, and finally to desperate pleading. It was getting to the point when I was contemplating burglary as a means of financing myself when I heard that a Beijing magazine (this magazine, actually) had accepted me as an intern. I jumped at the chance and within a matter of months I’d touched down in my old stomping ground.
Two months down the line, and I’m well into my time at the magazine. The internship was surprisingly hard work, but more surprising was all the other stuff that went with living solo in Beijing. When I was a student here my life was relatively simple and stress-free. This time I have to wake up in the morning (shock, horror), get to work, get back from work, cook, clean, sort out bills, do my dissertation work, and finally when everything on my list of “things to do” is complete, I go to bed and get ready to do it all over again the next day.
Exciting and high-tempo it is, easy going and carefree it is not. In fact (and I’m finally getting to the point of this column), as I grabbed an energy-boosting coffee and prepared to start my dissertation work at midnight last night, I was hit with one of those signature Ellis Pugh epiphanies: I was slowly and undeniably turning into an adult. I even have a scientific ironclad reason why I know this to be true.
We Pughs (of the male line) have a family joke: When we get old we lose our hair, our eyesight, and develop beer bellies of a size Buddha would be proud of. Well, given that without my glasses I can’t read my computer screen, my hair is a shadow of its former lion-esque self, and I’m developing a belly, it appears my coming of age is an undeniable fact. Coupled with the fact that I now have a growing list of mundane tasks which I have to keep track of, and will soon be working full-time, it means that I can’t pretend to be a kid any longer.
Which is the long and short of why my days as a College Confidential writer are coming to an end. Because without my noticing, I have slowly morphed into an adult. I think I’m going to take the advice of Norman Vincent Peale (whoever he is), “Live your life and forget your age,” because after all, we’re just going to get older every year.
Ellis Pugh will begin his final year at Durham University this fall. He attended Harrow International School Beijing.