Esther and her boyfriend in VeniceEsther Arthurson

This term, my role is to write about new experiences, and summer is as good a place to start this task as any. For example, I am writing this while listening to Celine Dion in the back row of a plane destined for Tel Aviv, amidst a sea of pensioners with whom I am about to spend ten days touring Israel. What is this if not a once-in-a-lifetime experience? An insight into retirement, perhaps, but ignore that for now. My mother's outraged response when I complained that I would be the only attendee under the age of fifty was: "You will not! Morag's only forty-nine!"

Since leaving for university, home has become a portable concept - one that packs its bags every time I do

I had been dreading this endless expanse of blank calendar squares labelled “summer”. I wasn't ready to surrender what, through the rose-tinted lens of the retrospectoscope, looked like three terms of back-to-back May Ballin' and catching the somewhat colloquial "rat piss disease" from days spent dipping in and out of the Cam (which is quite possibly the origin of every disease since the Bubonic Plague). Since leaving for university, home has become a portable concept - one that packs its bags every time I do, hopping on planes and trains alongside me. The place I used to call "home" has been reduced to a building, a museum of memories that can't quite compare with a college full of my peers and endless potential plans on a weekend evening. This is not helped by contrast: I live in a quiet Edinburgh suburb where a wild Friday night involves a geriatric escaping from the local nursing home and running rampant around the bowling green for a minute or two before they’re promptly sedated.

This concern regarding the long vacation first surfaced back in June. It's now September and I couldn't tell you where the summer's gone if I tried. Instead, here is a brief fly-by of the new experiences it’s brought – Summer News, if you will.

It started with Venice, a trip with The Boyfriend made in the euphoric wake of exams. This was a plethora of firsts, from discovering AirB'n'B and organising a holiday without parental supervision, to drinking an unidentified substance in a bar with a ceiling made of bras. Overall, a success, considering we not only made it back alive, but with all limbs and organs present and accounted for. My mum was more shocked at this outcome than I was, having closely followed our sketchy bus detour through Bologna from the safe distance enabled by Find My iPhone.


Mountain View

Photographing the humans of Cambridge: Mark Box on connection, chow mein, and Cambridge clubs

Another new experience on the tide of this summer was waitressing at a local pub. Every day there was a learning curve, from discovering what sort of customer I don’t want to be, to seeing my first urinal: for the record, those things are nasty. I’ve been asked “what kind of a fish is halloumi?” and told to “bring tomatoes on the side for the dog, please”. I’ve heard two-year-olds chanting “we want beer” and worried for this incoming generation of tiny and demanding alcoholics, and I’ve served food at a live music night where an old Scottish man asked if there were “any French people in the hoose” and everyone held their breath and rued the day we’d ever given him a microphone. After eight weeks, my colleagues finally clocked onto the fact that they can’t let me talk to the customers for long; as a theology student, any conversation I instigate is one step towards an existential crisis and one step away from a tip.