Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Reflecting on my uni days.

It has been on my mind to share a post about this for a while. Driving over university bridge today prompted me to write about it as soon as got home. It's not often I am on this side of town but there are a few shops over the bridge that I like to go to and it is one of the main roads around the city so heading over university bridge is a common thing really. All around this area is student accommodation and as you head over Brayford pool, the monstrosity that is Lincoln University crops up. I only refer to it as a monstrosity as some of the modern architecture down there is seriously questionable, some is also amazing though! You can see all the classes of students crossing and heading to the main campus and it is this time of year when I am always reminded about my experience and just how different it was to most of you.
I went to uni locally, not Lincoln University, but actually Bishop Grosseteste which is uphill, not too far from the cathedral. This small university, which actually only got its own university status in my last year of study, has been a main attraction of the city for many years as a very good teacher training university. It seemed to be the place to go if you were 100% sure you were going to work in education. They had combined studies so you could learn education and a subject for your degree. I took education and early childhood studies which followed on from my 2 year diploma at college in childcare and education. I was well aware that I wanted to become a teaching assistant but with parental pressures I followed in my brothers footsteps and went into uni to have the option to either become a teacher or to become a TA. I left university with my degree and became a TA. That's what I wanted to do, and even though I could have done that with my diploma, and so much of me wished I had, I would not have had some experiences that truly formed me without it.
I was so lucky to have passed through university prior to the huge fee inflation. It was an inexpensive experience for me, I lived at home, and had a loan to cover uni costs and leave me a tiny bit of living money at the end. This meant that I didn't begrudge going as I may have now. I knew what I wanted to do, and knew a degree would help with that because I knew I already had the qualification that would get me my job. But like all things, it was the right thing at the right time and led to my current opportunities. Life could have been very different.
My three years were hard. I really didn't enjoy it but I met 5 people who really kept me on track. 5 people who are still around today and 5 people who I have the most happy memories with. 
Something I was never prepared for at uni was the fun that was going to be had. It is the only place I have experienced still being drunk in a formal situation. I mean not lairy, but 100% sure alcohol was still in my system. The three years, even though I struggled horribly with the work, were some of the best times. That was due to the people I had surrounded myself with and that was due to the effort we all put in. All my friends lived on campus the first year, then moved into houses the second and third and we would just hang in rooms, and spend a lot of time in town. I loved it. It was also my first taste of real freedom, but still having the ease of living at home. And what we got up to was good, clean, innocent fun. We all loved to dance and I can just remember nights and nights of doing pretty much that. I was laughing to myself recently as I was scrolling through my Facebook pictures and I have so many pictures from then on there. We always used to take out digital cameras with us. They were more important than our phones as we were all intent to have evidence of our fun nights together! I am so thankful for that, that the most modern thing we had was a camera, makes me smile!
My uni experience was made all the better by them and they, for sure, got me through because by the time I got to uni I was done with education. I have always struggled and my dyslexia really got in the way, but like a lot of people, I just put up and shut up. Just get through it Emily, was how I used to coach myself and my friends were good. We just all were in it together. It wasn't ever spoken about a lot but I knew they would help if I needed it.
Other formative things happened, like me personally developing my faith. I lived at home and Sunday mass was never missed, also all the holy celebrations through the year I still upheld and I think uni would be a time for teens to step away from a parental enforced religion but because my friends were so respectful, it was never an issue. I carried on practising and was never made to feel "Religious". In fact I think it helped support my faith as I got the opportunity to talk about it and actually, that other people respected it made a huge difference. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of times I would moan about it but in reality their silence in support made me stick with it, which now I am so thankful for. I do remember one Easter when we all wanted to go out as everyone had stayed for the weekend and I had to go to a service and then we all went out after. We had to wait in the longest queue though to get into a club and were all grumbling and laughing about me being so devout that we were now unable to get into the clubs. We laughed about it and it just makes me smile so much when I think about it. But that was what I got out of uni, a qualification, yes, which lead to a great job where I met some life long friends, but actually what happened to me with those girls was something that changed me for the rest of my life. 
They all stayed for a 4th year and did their PGCE but I became a TA. A PGCE would have given me a qualification that would have made it impossible for me to be one so I went straight into a job. I got engaged to Rob in the September who I had dated over my 2nd and final year, and was married with all my girls there a year later. 
I would say that my early 20s have been the absolute best time of my life. I know, I have had such a wonderful life since, but from meeting the girls, to Rob, to marriage and to beginning our family, I have absolute happiness for those years of my life. So much love, fun and smiles that outweighed the anxieties that came in my late 20s.
University isn't for everyone. It wasn't for me, but I persevered and due to that had the most wonderful path in life fall before me. I would never encourage people to go to university especially if they have no direction, but going to university may also open the most wonderful doors that may form the beginning of your own path and journey onto something so exciting.


1 comment

  1. Wise words University is not just about the course but about meeting people from different backgrounds and making some great memories. It also teaches you to cope with challenging situations, meeting deadlines for essays etc, and prepares you for adult working life. Something I keep reminding my daughter of whilst noting that if she doesn't want to go there are other options. Personally I would go back to those days at a drop of a hat! But as you said not for everyone. BTW loved Lincoln uni open day despite buildings. Lovely city also x


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