Saying goodbye to another year

Another year of university is over. Blogger Iona reflects on saying goodbye.

By Iona Craig.

When I was younger, I hated hugs. Arrivals and departures of aunts, uncles or parents’ friends often brought with it the assumption of a hug hello or a hug goodbye. It was polite, expected. Friendly. Signifying.

Then the awkward stage appeared where the greeting expected became less clear – a hug? A handshake? Words alone? Culturally the appropriate gesture for the mark of meeting and greeting or leaving differs. Generationally it differs. Genders often differ. Individuals differ. But ultimately, they all signify the change in company that has just occurred or about to occur. They celebrate the start of something or conclude the end of something. It’s the capital letter or full stop of a conversation.

We are about to reach the full stop of the year. For many students, it is simple a comma, a break before the continuation, but for many others it is the full stop. It is time to say goodbye. I still don’t like hugs. I don’t like saying goodbye.

The University of Warwick Piazza with groups of students sitting on the steps.
The end of term means spending lots of time with friends, but also saying goodbye. Image credit: University of Warwick.

I remember the end of term at school; it was a distinct day in the calendar often marked by a half day. On the lead up to the end of the year there was always sports day and assemble, lessons became more fun and teachers weren’t quite a strict. You could count down the days and then there was a finish mark when every student would go home. You knew when the goodbye was coming. University seems quite different. Exams dates vary, there is no sports day or assembly – graduations are over the course of several weeks. Week 10 is the end of term for some while others left months before and others have months still to come. Housing contracts end on random dates. There is no clear day to say goodbye; goodbyes are distributed throughout the days. The full stop is smudged not rounded.

A child carrying a Winnie the Pooh bear by the leg. Only the bottom half of the child is visible. There are brown leaves on the floor.
Image credit: Pixabay.

I’m going to miss my friends next year a lot; more than anything else. The amount of change that happens over the summer, and saying goodbye,  scares me. When the subject of uni comes up, several years once its passed, it will be these people that come to mind and the memories made together. The best way I have found to enjoy my last few weeks with these people rather than focus on the inevitable hug goodbye that is about to come, is tell myself it has already happened and the time we share together now – that is extra. Goodbyes are hard but they allow us to move forward rather than linger in last year. They mark a point in time that signifies the end but also the beginning of the next. They aren’t always satisfyingly tidy like the unmet points of a hand drawn circle but clear enough to know the circle is somewhat complete. Saying goodbye to the people and places this year has been spent with is an important motion to begin focusing on preparing for the next stage. It doesn’t have to be grand or over the top but a subtle acknowledgement of circumstance moving on.

I’m not sure I’ll ever like hugs. I’m not sure I’ll ever like saying goodbye. However as said in the words of Winnie the Pooh:

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”.

And for that, I am grateful.

What are you saying goodbye to this year? Or are your goodbyes only temporary? Let us know in the comments below, by tweeting us @warwicklibrary, or by emailing us at

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