Last term flew by, largely thanks to our dissertation deadline. I spent most of May in cafes near the university, consuming inordinate amounts of coffee (and sushi, for some strange reason). Holding the bound and printed copy of one’s work before handing it in was a rewarding experience. My friends and I all agreed that we were amazed at being able to complete an 11,000 word project; I have renewed respect for those lecturers and scholars who write entire books of far greater length! Regardless of my mark, I consider its completion a real personal achievement, and being able to focus it on Cicero and his attempts at popular philosophy was a privilege. Cicero has been a character of interest to me since my childhood years: hearing my family chat about his flawed character and oratorical genius made him an obvious choice for personal study, and recent scholarly dismissals of his philosophical abilities made me even more determined to argue for a renewed interest in his philosophical merits. De Officiis, his final philosophical work, was fascinating to read, with a heartfelt message about duty and right conduct. Indeed, reading this earlier works reveals, to no small extent, the gradually evolving state of mind of a statesman: from a young, ambitious, glory-hungry newcomer to Roman politics, to a sceptical senator who bemoaned this very desire for glory as the destroyer of honour, and his Republic.
Now the exams are over, and my three years of study at Bristol are coming to a close. I’m simultaneously relieved to be over with exams, and sad to have finished studying Ancient History. I hope they went well, but my relief at having completed them largely outweighs my worries. I have to confess, I actually enjoyed much of this year’s revision period: revision sessions with friends were not only highly productive, but could also be really good fun. I think the fact that we’ll all being going our separate ways soon (but not forever!) made us all savour the time that much more, even if it was stressful.
Now, we are all taking the opportunity to enjoy our new freedom, and we’re all making plans to enjoy ourselves, including trips to the S.S. Great Britain and Blaise Castle (a beautiful stately home, with museum, castle and gardens). I really want to see as much of the city as I can before I leave Bristol. But many of us (myself included) are already looking to the future. I’m considering going into Law, so I’m now looking for training contracts and work experience. Since I would ideally like to provide legal help for those who really need it, particularly those whose who feel their human rights have been infringed, I’m currently looking at Human Rights and Humanitarian law at present, but also in Criminal and Family Law. I regularly keep up with the good work done by the likes of the Red Cross and Amnesty International. Since support for people is also effectively provided through the fantastic community, charity and social work that other groups provide, I’m equally eager to get involved with these areas for experience and employment.
As it happens, coming to Bristol and working with the Widening Participation Scheme allowed me to talk to all manner of people from different backgrounds, all of whom wanted to know more about university. Having the opportunity to give people advice on something which mattered a lot to them was very important to me, and I felt it was imperative to help people make the right choices for them: if you like the sound of university and a specific course, then it’s something you have a right to experience, no matter your age or situation. I also feel my horizons have been greatly broadened by my course: from ethical theory, ancient and modern, to theories of our entire world, I have been able to analyse and refute many different modes of thought. Learning how to (try) to ‘get into the heads’ of our ancient ancestors – attempting to understand the world from their perspective – is a skill I hope to take with me and apply here in the present.
I’m going to miss studying in Bristol, but thankfully, I know people remaining to do their Masters, and people from Kung Fu who are starting their final year in September/October, so I have every excuse to come back and visit!