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"Making peace with my student-scape"

Back in September 2017, I made two massive transitions in my life.

Within weeks of each other I became a patient being treated for Anorexia Nervosa, and I became a university student. And although I fought for months to keep both identities as separate enclaves, my recovery-scape and student-scape became braided together.

Eating disorders and eating disorder recovery can catalyse their own trauma. And amidst the sudden finish to face-to-face teaching during the coronavirus pandemic, I began wondering whether I had left little versions of myself scattered across the city. I wanted nothing more than to plait these loose strands back into my new post-recovery identity. Two years after graduating from university, amongst the railway strikes I decided to take an impromptu writing excursion to the heart of my student-scape.

Graduation often provides access to just a selection of monumental buildings which you are swiftly steered between. And although they are monumental - they hadn’t built my character in the way other places had.

These buildings didn’t whisper the warmth of my day-long corridor-camping excursions. They didn’t speak of the safety that a building of books brought before twilight trips to crisis cafes. But most importantly of all, these buildings did not hint that my heart had made homes in some of the most unlikely of people and places.

As I walked past my accommodation towers, my classrooms, and my workplaces, I collected little shards of myself that the coronavirus pandemic and the graduation ceremony had prevented me from collecting.

Today, having lived here for 3 years, and having worked here for 6 years, I took the deepest breath I ever have. I wandered my student-scape with my head held-high, my eyes to the sky, and breathed in everything my student-scape had to offer me (lots of rain mostly).

She felt proud. I was finally at peace with my student-scape. Now I have a career and a dog that chews my shoes. My workplace is between my first-year accommodation and my university, so I walk both of them on the same route I took, and tell them both that I am much tougher than I look.

-Contributed by Katie

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