Thursday, 23 April 2015

My university experience

My first choice university was called Royal Holloway University of London. I had visited it twice and completely fell in love. The campus was small but friendly and the main building called Founders took my breath away. I wanted nothing else but to have a place at this uni. Then came results day. I barely slept that night and woke up at 5am even though results didn't go live until 6am. 6am came and the results still weren't out. I needed AAB to get into uni. 6:20am and I get an email from Royal Holloway...'it is with regret that you did not get the necessary grades to study at Royal Holloway'. I told my Mum to leave my room and I cried. A lot. My dream uni had come crashing down around me and I was heartbroken. About 10 minutes later I received my actual grades and I got BBB. The most frustrating thing was that I was one mark off of an A in two of those subjects. So close. After a few hours of sulking I got in contact with my insurance uni which was Winchester. It was a lovely uni but I just didn't fall in love with it.

Fast forward to the next day and I go on a trip to Tesco with my sister. My phone was on silent in my bag whilst I was driving. I checked it when we parked and I had a missed call and a voice mail. I listened to it and I was in shock. It was from Royal Holloway saying they had looked over my application again and they had changed their mind. I couldn't believe it. I called my Mum (who works 5 minutes away from Tesco) and she told me to come to her work to call them back. I drove straight over, ditching Tesco, and called them straight away. Marco (who I found out a couple of years later was my favourite lecturer) answered the phone and said that he was happy to offer me a place and told me all the necessary details. Mum and I were in complete shock. I cried again and I was so happy. My dream was now a reality and I couldn't believe it! I told my head of sixth form straight away because she was such a help with everything. She was so chuffed. Before I knew it I was on my way!

Moving day was both scary and exciting. My uni is actually only a 20 minute drive from my home but I decided to live there to get the whole university experience. My friend Annie drove me in her car and my parents and sister went in another car with all of my things. Half way through the journey Annie and I started crying because we realised how much was going to change. It was a very emotional day but it was a happy one. When I got there I got my key and we hauled all of my stuff up to the fourth flour (8 sets of stairs) and I made the place my own. I was living in Founders which consisted of an all girl corridor of about 12 rooms. After my family and Annie had left I knocked on my neighbours doors and introduced myself. After everyone had met we had our first corridor party. We played games, had food and drink and we all had a great time!

The first week was Fresher's were you go out, join societies and get to know people. Before starting uni I spoke to a guy called Dan on a website where you could meet people on your course at your uni. We hit it off straight away and spoke nearly every day. A few days after settling in I met up with him and it felt like we had known each other for years. Little did I know at this point he would end up being my biggest link at uni and basically deciding the future of my time at uni. That night he invited me to his flat for pre-drinks before going to the SU. I was a little nervous because I didn't know anyone else there but when I got there everyone made me feel so welcome. I met Lucy, another girl on my course and Tommy who did English (soon to be two of my best friends). 

Once freshers week was over I had my first set of lectures. Uni life was becoming real. I sat with Dan and Lucy and they made me feel more calm. First year was a bit of a doss if I am honest. It consisted of a lot tired hungover lectures and many aimless scrolls through Facebook. First year was one of the best though. I met the most amazing people, had some unforgettable nights and felt like I belonged for the first time in my life. I always had friends at school but I never felt like anyone properly 'got' me. Uni changed this and I felt like I found my people.

After a month or so I found myself quite bored with so much free time on my hands so I decided to look for jobs. The main jobs on campus were catering so I applied to work at a place called The Hub. I had my interview and I loved the managers. They were kind and funny and we got on really well. They said they would let me know in a couple of days, but they rung me an hour later and offered me the job! Everything was falling into place. I have never properly loved a job before, but this one was definitely different. The people were amazing and I liked the fast pace of working in a kitchen. The majority of my good friends have come from The Hub so I am very happy I applied here.

Before I knew it first year was over and I was waiting for my exam results again. Unfortunately I got a 2:2 and I really wasn't happy. However, this pushed me to work my butt off in second year which I am thankful for. Over the summer I worked at The Hub and for a conference called ISIS (now very unfortunately named). It was a summer school with 1,200 international students. That's a lot of mouths to feed! Some of the start times were as early as 3am but it weirdly bonded us as a team. The days were long but we partied hard to make up for it. These memories are some of my favourites!

After summer had ended it was back to uni and into my second year. I promised myself I was going to work hard and get the 2:1 I so badly craved. I turned off Facebook in lectures and forced myself to pay attention. After all I was not paying £9k to not listen! I found myself really enjoying the topics and I was actually keen to go to my lectures. During my second year I moved into a student home with some girls from my corridor. Unfortunately I didn't enjoy this as much as I should have and it kind of put a downer on my second year, but it made me appreciate having Dan, Tommy and Lucy so close to my house! I ended up going round theirs most nights and it brought us even closer. I wouldn't have been able to deal with it without them. 

In my 2nd year I also took on a big commitment of being the president of the Psychology Society. We ended up having a membership of 100 people which was amazing! We ran events such as pub crawls, movie nights, a murder mystery formal and the big trip which was a holiday to Prague! 32 people ended up going on this trip. It was stressful on my behalf but it was more than worth it when I saw everyone having such a great time. That was a great memory from Prague and I really enjoyed it. I didn't enjoy the 20 hour coach journey each way though!

The best thing that came out of my 2nd year though was a little scheme called Teach First. I received an email about the scheme and it really intrigued me. I have wanted to be a teacher since I was in year 9 and this scheme was offering a paid place and training for 2 years. I set up a meeting with a recruitment officer and I fell in love with the scheme. I put in an application and I was invited to an assessment centre in London. This consisted of an interview, a group task and a mock lesson. I really enjoyed the day and met some great people, but I wasn't sure if I had done enough to get in. A week later I received an email from Teach First. I dreaded opening it. However, when I did I saw I had been offered a place to teach secondary school English! How lucky was I?! This was my biggest achievement in second year and this would set my path for after uni too.

Exams rolled around again and I worked so hard. I worked over summer for ISIS again but this time I had been promoted to shift leader. I was in charge of the team because my manager felt that I had it in me. I loved doing this and having extra responsibility. It was something to focus on to take away the fear of the exam results. Just before the exam results were due I went on a family holiday to Kefalonia. I checked my emails every day but to no avail. Of course the results would come through on the flight home when I had no wifi. I saw the email when I got off of the plane and quickly got the calculator to add up my scores. I checked four times and it was true. I got a 2:1! Not only that, I got two 1st's in my exams. Unreal! This was definitely the confidence boost I needed and it made me look forward to 3rd year so much more.

After the living arrangements in second year, I decided to move back home in my 3rd year and to commute in. It was more than doable and it meant that I could save money for when I start Teach First too. 3rd year was great because it was the first year we got to choose our subjects. I went for a Social Psychology stream which meant my lectures were very applied, which I loved. I really enjoyed the lectures this year and found myself wanting to find out more about most topics. I also was assigned my project group for my largest piece of academic work. Luckily I got my 2nd choice supervisor and I had 3 amazing girls in my group. Lucy, my friend Shan that I work with at The Hub and Evie who had been in my lab classes since year 1. I couldn't have asked for a better group and I really enjoyed working with them all. I also continued to work at The Hub in 3rd year and loving my job. I made the effort to see my friends still, living away from uni meant I appreciated every moment with them. 

My 3rd year also brought my 21st birthday. I had a big party where all my family, home friends and uni friends came to my home town. This was really special to me because it was all of my favourite people in one place. I was spoilt with gifts and an amazing cake by my Auntie and I had a really enjoyable evening. We all went clubbing after and it is safe to say I don't remember much of that night...but that is how all good parties should be right?!

Now we are up to present day and a few big things have happened. First of all, I am revising for my last ever set of exams. I have 6 in total and officially finish on the 26th May. This seems so close now and I can't believe my uni time is almost over. Secondly, I handed in my resignation at The Hub. I was really really sad about doing this. It has been such a big part of my uni experience. My last shift is on the 30th May and that evening I am going out with all my work friends for some leaving drinks which will be nice. The third thing to happen is making plans for my graduation! The biggest event of my uni life. I have got my tickets, in the process of taking measurements for my gown and looking for pretty dresses to wear. I am so excited for this! The last and probably biggest thing to have happened is that I have found out my school for Teach First! I have been placed in Brompton Academy, Medway for 2 years. My dream of being a teacher is so close now and I cannot wait to get started. Now all I have left to do is wait for my exam results, fingers crossed it is a 2:1!! (I will keep you updated).

My uni experience has been a series of highs and lows. Writing this has been emotional but it is nice to see how far I have come since receiving that phone call telling me that I had a place. I would not change this experience for the world and I have enjoyed being independent and making such amazing friends. A big shout out to Tommy, Lucy and Dan for making my uni experience amazing. It would not have been the same without you and I love all three of you to pieces. Here is to the next chapter in my life and to my next experience!

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