The Difference Between “Splurging” And “Wasting”

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People hanging out on punt boats.

FYI, that’s not a typo below: Mike did mean “grab a punt,” not “grab a pint.” (A punt is a boat.)

At this point in term, you see quite a few “finalists” (seniors in Oxford lingo) running about in their lavish gowns, preparing to take their last exams. Normally, finals aren’t that big a deal in the states, but here, your actual final exam is cumulative over the course of 3 years—and determines whether you actually get your degree.

Talk about pressure!


Watching all the finalists made me realize that, although I’m leaving Oxford like them, I’m not leaving with a degree in hand. So, do I still get to treat myself to all the normal graduation festivities? Am I entitled to financially splurge a bit to enjoy a place I probably won’t see again for a while, just like the finalists?

In the spirit of compromise, I’ve decided to go with the pragmatic course of addressing these questions. Yes, I can spend, but within reason.

How To Celebrate My Un-graduation

I think a lot of finalists are (slightly) justified in some lavish spending during their last few days in Oxford. Once they leave, they’ve most likely got both a degree and a job lined up to fill the hole they’re burning in their wallets.

I, however, cannot say the same. My condition of “within reason” basically means understanding the difference between splurging a bit and flat out wasting money. For example:

Spending £80 for VIP treatment in a club just because you’ll never likely go there again? Wasting money. This is something people who actually make money get to do once in a blue moon.

Spending £2.50 for a ticket to a garden party with unlimited drinks, ice cream, buffet food, and the opportunity to network with the consulting firms hosting it? Splurging, but just a little bit. Events like this basically do not exist back at home, and it’s a pretty good bargain for the price. Plus, even though consulting is most likely not my professional calling, a little networking never really hurt anybody.

It’s things like this that I’m willing to spend some money on to celebrate my un-graduation and the time I’ve spent at such an amazing place. Unfortunately, cheap events like this don’t happen all the time.

You Don’t Need To Spend Money To Enjoy Yourself

As fun as the garden party was, doing something like grabbing a punt with my friends on a bright day will (1) make for some great memories and (2) not cost me anything to actually do!

Though it is nice to splurge a little bit, I don’t believe that you always necessarily need to spend money to celebrate and enjoy yourself.

So for my last 4 weeks (I have 4 weeks left! 4!? I thought I signed up to do this thing for a year …), I’m going to be looking to do a combination of the above two categories to celebrate: the cheap stuff, the free stuff, and overall, the meaningful stuff.

Study-abroad veterans: How should Mike spend his last 4 weeks in Oxford? Let him know in the comments!

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