First thing first, university is not everything that you see posted online…
I learnt this the hard way. From college it is feels like it is forced on you that you have to apply to university otherwise you won’t be successful. I can tell you now, this is not true.
I’ll start from the beginning, 2016 starting second year of college. As mentioned in my other blog post, I had not had the easiest starts to college but I got through it. At this point of college, I did not have much idea what I wanted to do as there were so many jobs I was interested in. After a lot of sitting down and searching, I found the right course for me at the time, Learning disability nursing. I felt that this was me and something I wanted to do as I love supporting others and want to make an impact on an individuals life. Unfortunately, I ended going through clearing.
Before I had gone into clearing, I had three university offers for learning disabilities nursing and was feeling pretty positive! But things changed and a few weeks before my results I decided that going away to a university in London wasn’t something I wanted (this was my firm choice). This then lead me into a battle with the university to release me into clearing and also to give back the accommodation deposit. After all this, I was finally in clearing itself and I had selected another university that I had initially rejected but they were prepared to look at my application again but nothing would be confirmed until my results came in.
Now to results day, I picked up my results and worked out how many UCAS points I had and they were what I needed to get in! But it wasn’t as simple as it seemed.. I had rang up the university to let them know what my results but guess what I got let down, my AS level results did not count which they had not told me would be the case initially. This meant a massive rethink and it was beyond stressful, it was hard work figuring out if I even wanted to go university at all and if other universities would accept me with my results. At the time of A level results, I was waiting for my GCSE maths result as this was my 2nd resit BANG! I did not pass it so I kinda lost hope for university at all now as the degree course needed a pass in maths. So I went away and thought about things and started searching for courses which were similar and I did this with the help of my mum and dad I had found a course that looked interesting so I went for an open day and I loved it and wanted to go! I had put this on ucas and I got accepted by the university but there was another problem… accommodation… I couldn’t find any accommodation due to how late I had applied. In the end I had to give up the place due to that reason so I was back at the beginning again. I went through this process another two times, until third time lucky, I got a place on a course that I was interested in and they didn’t need maths and the process was super quick.
First year… I enjoyed this year before it all went downhill in second year. I am sure some people can agree with me that second year is worse than first year? I did struggle at university especially when in my flat as I did not get on with the people as much as I thought I would plus listening to Taylor Swift on repeat at a million decibels every day is not my idea of fun so I ended up moving accomodation and it did get better even though they had already formed their friendships in the new flat because it was the second semester they did make me feel welcome though which helped. My boyfriend at the time (now ex) came up to see me at university pretty regularly, I didn’t mind this at the time as we were doing things together and he was concentrating getting his life on track back at home due to some personal issues… I’ll be talking about this more in another blog post.
Second year… this is the year that I would say that everything went downhill for me. Before starting back, I had parted ways with my boyfriend so I started university not in a very good head place this led me to start counselling privately (NHS waiting lists at 6 months was not a good idea as I needed the help now) I was looking forward to starting back at university as I was with new people within my new flat, at the start we all got on really well, I’d say it is a different story now i’m once again the outsider looking in, because I don’t massage people’s egos and I don’t play the usual social media friend “likes” game i’m just not a good enough option as a friend. I am not a massive drinker or party goer either which probably doesn’t help me, I’d rather have a chilled night in with some drinks than go into a club and get totally wasted..but that does not mean I wouldn’t go sometimes, hey it would just be nice to be asked! Struggling with the work and struggling socially is hard, I read online that it you write an anonymous note on the kitchen whiteboard that you’re struggling and thinking of giving up university that sometimes is an icebreaker for people to see you in a different light… only one problem though someone else took credit for the message and dined on the sympathy of the flat, there was no point in saying anything as clearly I meant nothing to noone I just didn’t exist.
This year (as I am still in second year just!) is very much different to my first year. One thing really apparent is that I don’t have any friends that I keep in contact with regularly anymore so I feel even more isolated than ever plus now I don’t have my ex boyfriend anymore to do things with and make the time fly by so that having friends is not an issue. I would say that this is probably a good thing as I have now realised that I shouldn’t have relied on him so much in my first year. I remember my mum and dad asking him to have no contact with me for my first 6 months at university to give me the chance to settle in but that failed after about a week, I knew I should have been stronger but when you are miles from home alone and pretty much sad every day you need a familiar face or a caring late-night text message. I feel that I have lost something special in my life as he did give me support when I needed it but I should have to lead my own life and made my own way and more importantly I should have made him aware where my boundaries were but instead I did the usual Emily thing and closed my ears and hoped it would all go away…familiar story?
No one tells you that year 2 is very different to year 1 at university they just leave you in the lurch they leave you to get on with things on your own, there is no support and when you want to find a tutor they ain’t there you feel like you have more time on your hands and that you have nothing to do because they call this ‘independent study ’so you start to overthink everything and think that you are the only one feeling like this, when you do speak to others though you realise that there are others in the same boat as you, it’s just that no one wants to speak up. All this then starts to impact on other areas of your life you either don’t eat or you overeat on chocolate or crap, you can’t sleep, you can’t concentrate and it feels like a big black fog over your eyes. You go back to your flat and you’re on your own door closed in your own world, then you see people posting on social media above loving university and then the overthinking starts again it must just be me?
I finally got an appointment with the head of health programs who basically told me that I can’t do this and I can’t do that and that i’m good for nothing and ooh yes the biggest killer ‘you can’t do learning disability nursing, you’re not good enough!’ Talk about kick a person when they’re down I was trashed. I went away and talked things through with my parents and decided to try to change my modules to see if that helped. I saw my personal tutor who asked me how I was and if there was a specific module that I was finding difficult or didn’t understand and if so I could change it, she asked what I was interested in, she also said she would refer me to student services for help with how I was feeling. Nothing happened no contact at all it was only when I emailed them directly about wanting to interrupt my studies and it was then that they finally contacted me. They tell students that universities have loads of services to help people who are struggling emotionally but in reality is that the case?
I am 19 years old and this whole university thing has probably been one of the worst experiences of my life, no partying for me or late night sessions, just stress, dark days and worries.
~The best university is the university of life~