“There’s… there’s just so much,” said the girl, looking up at the rubbish mound that towered, twice her height, above her. “So much… stuff.”
In an event still celebrated today, on March 17 1776 the British Army left the colonial town of Boston, never to return. Ever since (well, technically since 1901) the 17th of March has been known to Bostonians as Evacuation Day.
Edinburgh has its own Evacuation Day. It falls on the first Friday of September, every year, when the last of the Capital University’s 32,000-strong student compliment leave their halls and residences . In truth, most have already gone – the sprawling Fresher fastness that is Pollock Halls is cleansed of its thousands of inhabitants in May. September, however, really is the final leaving date. In just a week’s time, a new generation of students will take up residence across the dozens of University-owned accommodation cites that litter the inner city.
The last few days prior to Evacuation Day are a chaotic mess. The detritus abandoned by the thousands of students that inhabit halls boggles the mind. “So much stuff,” a comment I heard in passing from one awestruck soon-to-be graduate, was never more apt.
And what of those left behind? It’s a strange thing, certainly, to see kitchens and corridors and foyers that were bustling with activity now not only lying deserted, but strewn with detritus. “Apocalyptic” would be a trite description, but a tempting one all the same. Of over one hundred students that used to live in my own housing block, I am now the only one left. It’s just me, for a week.
As strange as it is seeing halls laid waste, there’s also an air of excitement among the survivors. This is one of the most vital parts in the University’s natural cycle. Over the summer some seven thousand University of Edinburgh students have graduated, moved on, and departed never to return. In just a week’s time a little less than ten thousand fresh faces will arrive. Life will return once more to the desolation, and the great Circle of Uni Life will begin again, renewed, vibrant, exciting. No matter how many years you experience it, it’s still an amazing thing to be a part of.
2015/16 is dead, a good year gone but not forgotten, down amidst the bulging, stinking bin bags and stained mattresses. 2016/17, my seventh year at University, beckons. I’m as ready for it as I’ll ever be.