Doing the 50: How to finish with a whimper, not a bang

This week, Sheffield third-year James Ashford completes the last of the 50 tasks we once told him he (and you) had to do before he left uni. The anticlimax is palpable

A long, long time ago, I stumbled across a list of 50 things to do before you leave university. The list was pretty bland and vaguely patronising, but it gave me some direction. I decided to complete all fifty things, write about them, and in the process have some 'life-changing experiences'. What a dismal failure.

With 45 things completed on my list of 50, it was time for the final five.

18. Go to the careers office and speak to them completely honestly

Even by the standards of this spectacularly boring list, you’d have to say that this is a pretty dull thing to make someone do before leaving university. I had my first careers meeting when I was about six years old and my professional ambitions were primarily influenced by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Even at that age I realised these meetings were essentially useless, and that people working in a careers office weren’t in the best position to advise me on life prospects.

The previous article included my attempt at ’16. Apply for internships and jobs’. The good news is that I got the job I applied for. The bad news is that this made a chat with the careers people rather redundant. In light of this, I decided not to waste anyone’s time, and instead just stood around outside the careers office for a bit, looking smug.

21. Go and see the art departments' end of year show

The generally lackadaisical approach I take towards researching my articles means I have been known to occasionally make mistakes. However, I can say with the swagger of a man who has spent at least four minutes checking on Google, that at the University of Sheffield, we do not have an art department.

I can only presume that when all the departments were divvied up between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam, we lost out on ‘art’. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if we deserve to be ranked 44 places higher than Hallam at all – unlike them, we don’t do Tourism Management, Metalwork or even Furniture Design. Through some massive miscarriage of justice, we ended up getting stuck with all the mickey-mouse subjects like ‘Medicine’ and ‘Philosophy’ and ‘Astrophysics’.

To make up for the lack of art show, or indeed department, I went into our union and had a look at the pictures on the walls. They were rubbish.

42. Dye your hair

Like most things on this list of 50, dying your hair is something most people will have done within the first week of university or, more likely, long before. I bleached my hair, and much of my scalp, at the age of fourteen, along with a few friends. We were so pleased with the results that we set up a pop group, The Bleach Boys, who enjoyed wild success thanks to our brilliantly cunning strategy of never performing in public.

People’s reactions to my long bleached mop cut were generally positive. My Head Teacher had bet me a fiver in front of the whole school assembly that I wouldn’t go through with it. After buying the bleach, I was left with four pounds well-earned profit.

Even my mum was encouraging. I remember us laughing and joking, me asking what she thought of it, her affectionately calling me ‘fucking idiot boy’ and weeping about the loss of my ‘beautiful, beautiful hair’.

I wouldn’t recommend dying your hair, but if you have to, invest in a quality brand and under no circumstances buy your bleach at poundland unless you’re going for the ‘do not approach this man, he is considered armed and dangerous’ look.

44. Make a movie starring your friends and your favourite places

Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let me film in the gym, so I resorted to plan B. Many people are getting familiar with the popular iPhone app ‘snapchat’. You can probably get it on other phones, but I wouldn’t know, because I don’t like to hang around with anyone who isn’t packing at least a 4S.

You can send photos or short videos to friends, which expire 1 – 10 seconds after they’ve been viewed. You can’t save or screenshot photos people send you, but you can save media you send to other people. As a result, the ‘movie’ I made consists of a series of short clips of me and my friends doing the type of things that make people think our generation is probably the end of any type of civilised society.

46. Make friends with a student from a country you've never known someone from or been to before

I didn’t know anyone from Germany before university, and now I know someone from there really quite well. As a result, I’ve spent a New Year’s Eve in Berlin, learnt a decent amount of German and had a clean haven away from the various hovels I have lived in. I’ve even managed to limit war jokes to special occasions; I will only start playing Churchill speeches if my Freundin’s bragging about the Deutsch economy gets out of hand.

With these five ticked off, fifty out of fifty things were complete. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, if the rollercoaster was one of those shit ones you get at fair grounds run by people who keep getting married on Channel 4.

James Ashford, you'll note, did not actually do any of the things he was meant to do this time around. Follow him on Twitter: @iamjamesashford

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