It was one of the coldest days in February. I was waiting for the bus and snow was silently falling. There was already a blanket of sugar white snow covering the streets, the roofs, the cars. Everything looked sugared. It was 6.30 in the evening and I just finished my meeting with my European Studies teacher who was also my supervisor for my university applications. King’s College London, Queen Mary, Exeter, Durham and York. I knew them by heart now. King’s College London, Queen Mary, Exeter, Durham and York. All the universities, their English literature modules, but above all their entry requirements. My final exams were eleven weeks away and although there was still some time left, you could sense the tension, the stress level rising in classroom, at home, with friends, all of us were getting nervous. I wasn’t more nervous than the others but there was the additional tension that I had to get an average of 1.2 at my final exams to get into an English University. Durham and King’s even required a 1.0. Whereas my friends just had to pass. Of course, they also wanted to perform well in the final exams, but they did not need their grades to get into an Austrian University. For that they had to sit additional exams, especially medicine, and so many of my friends wanted to study medicine, and that test was a hard one! I did not envy them. While I was so concerned about my grades, they had in addition, to be concerned about the university entry exams. But then their chances were more balanced out. They had to pass the final exams at school, and they had to pass the university entry exams while my future academic career depended on my grades at school alone. But then again, I was not alone. Three other friends of mine were applying for English universities as well. One of the others just got rejected from Warwick University and it was unlikely that I or any of the others would get a conditional offer from Durham or King’s anyway. So, the possibility of getting two to three conditional offers were already quite slim.
Finally, I was pulled out of my worries. The bus turned up and I could feel the warmth of the inside of the bus and sat down. My feet were hurting. It was so cold. But finally, finally I was on my way home, tired but so ready for my mum’s food. Whatever happened, my mum’s food is the best food in the world. When you have a headache, she will cook for you and the headache will go away. Sometimes my friends just come to visit me during lunch or dinner times, just so they would get some of my mum’s food. And on an evening, like today, I knew that after dinner I would feel so much better. I sighed. I looked at my notebook and new that I still had so much work to do: An essay in French, finish the English essay and go over my biology notes. I was about to stress out again when I told myself, eleven weeks, eleven weeks and then it’ll all be over. Never would I have to study Latin, physics or maths again. Subjects I loathed deeply from the inner most part of my soul. But then again, it wasn’t these particular subjects really, but the teachers who taught those subjects who were simply (to put it lightly) the most unfriendly and annoying people you could ever get to meet. To give you some insight, over the years they acquired some very lovely nicknames. Our physics teacher was known as Professor Umbridge, only she was not wearing pink all the time but a horrific combination of neon green, yellow and pink. Why she liked neon that much, we never found out. Then our maths teacher, we do not call him by his real name for his nickname is He who must not be named. And two other teachers we don’t have any more but tortured us in our earlier years of education. A French teacher we nicknamed Bellatrix Lestrange and an English teacher we nicknamed Sauron, enemy of the free people of Middle- earth. Most of these nicknames were invented by me of course.
Then there were some other teachers like the one I had my meeting with just now, who was amazing in explaining history and English. She truly stood up for her pupils, like for me and my other three friends who wanted to study at an English university. So she has been doing all this extra work since. I nicknamed her Professor McGonegall, because although, she was a very good teacher she was also very strict and around her hovered a sense of authority that could not be earned in class but was a character trait you had to be born with. To put it simply, when she stepped into a classroom, she did not have to do anything to make her pupils sit down and be quiet, while some other teachers had to scream and shout to obtain authority within a classroom. And to be honest, after eleven and a half years of school, a strict and fair teacher who taught you a lot was the best thing you could hope for, rather than a teacher who was stupid and unfair and therefore disliked the subject. And that’s the other thing about good teachers. You want to be good, to be successful in their subjects. Most of the time I was doing quite well in her class. I did get extra sessions with her where we discussed books and improved my English as, once I would get into an English University, I would be better prepared.
Today’s session was very tiring. We discussed Middlemarch one of the longest Victorian novels and I don’t think that I impressed her by what I had to say about it. To be fair, she was quite tired too and it wasn’t one of our favourite books either, whereas in some other sessions it was wonderful to talk about Jane Eyre, The Lord of the Rings or For Whom the Bell tolls. I guess today was just not my day.
So much depended on the coming weeks. All the studying, all the work, all the reading which was the reason I did not want to disappoint myself or anyone else. All the work I put in, to make this happen. All the work my supervisor put in and did extra hours of work. When I was 14 years old, our class and her went to Cambridge and London for two weeks. Since then we had set this silent agreement that one day I would study at an English University. Then when I turned 16, it became a very serious plan put into action, and now we were weeks away from the results. I could not and I did not want to disappoint.
Suddenly, I was pulled out of my thoughts again. It was a message on my phone. It had made that sound when you receive an email. Oh my god. Thoughts rushed through my head. The other day, my best friend who has also applied for universities in England got a rejection. Via email. It was a message from the University of York. Oh my god. Oh no, no, no, no. This was not good, was it? Receiving an email just after three weeks of the application deadline. That must be a rejection. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Not on that shitty day. Although it would be the peak of it. The highlight so to say. Would it really matter?
The bus stopped. I got up. My feet hurt again, and I was out in the cold. The heat that just rushed through me on the bus was gone. The cold was good. I looked at my phone again. Okay, I had to do this. Rejection or conditional offer it was better to know than to wonder. I breathed in the cold winter air and opened the email.
Dear Mr Fabian Sindelar,
We are pleased to inform you that you have received a conditional offer in English and related Literature at the University of York.
Oh my fucking God! That was it! A conditional offer! I could not believe it! The relief! That feeling of success just rushed through me like more than heat or cold. It was superior to anything happening around me. I stood there for a minute, thunderstruck. Then I wanted to tell somebody. So much! I had to share this hopeful news. I knew exactly who I wanted to speak to. I got on my phone again and called my supervisor who was the one to get me to this very moment.