I remember going on to the website for Roehampton University when looking for potential places to study and got that starry eyed feeling from the start. Everything about it made my heart feel with joy, the campus was gorgeous with a pond right in the middle which I imagined myself strolling around books in hand and a strong friendship group, many a days exploring London and becoming hip with all the cool places to visit and things to do in the capital. I pictured days on the green fuelled with crap food and assignment writing or lesson planning. I had my heart set on the university and I knew I would do whatever it took to get there. Whenever I mentioned and even when I mention it now that I was going to/went to Roehampton to become a teacher I am always met with ooo’s and ahhh’s and “isn’t that one of the best universities for teaching?” and while I nod in agreement I also get a little pang of pain, anxiety, regret? who knows!
Due to taking 3 attempts to get my math’s GCSE.. yes math’s was never my strong point. I had to wait longer to find out if I were to be accepted. A week after everyone else the message came through and I had been accepted. I remember sitting in the lounge with my mum and sister eagerly awaiting the news and then jumping up and down screaming with joy, my mum even cried if I remember rightly it was an extremely proud moment. I started visualising exactly how my University days were going to be. Think lots of drink, giggles, a strong girl group, exploring a new city and learning to do a job that I was so passionate about. My mum and I shopped endlessly for university supplies. We bought lots of kitchen utensils, homely decor and clothing, the excitement was beyond real.
September rolled round and so did moving in day, my parents and Sam came up to move me into my pretty nice flat alongside 7 other people, all which were so lovely. We all did fresher week to the fullest. We went to all events organised, bonded while getting outfits together and heading to the fresher’s fair looking at all the clubs – none of which I signed up for, my first downfall. I was very gleeful and excited for all that was to come we became pretty close pretty quick and late late nights were spent face timing Sam telling him all about my days but also pining for him to.
Now the blame for my shitty experience was probably half and half, half my fault and half the environments fault. Obviously I had Sam back home who I missed like crazy, we were still in the early-ish days of the crazy in love years you get and so we would spend every other weekend seeing each other and as most of my flat mates also had other halves they too saw their’s frequently. Also because not all of my flat mates were doing the same course it meant we were in and out of the flat at different times, the dream of working together over the same work load and petty gossip about what Stan and Jane got up to became a distant memory. Sadly we drifted and so due to Sam not coming up as frequently I ventured off to see if I could find that university dream. Luckily due to our classes being a mixture I was able to start talking to a girl who I vaguely knew due to her living next door, so we became friends and always sat together in lessons, this then turned into me frequently ending up in the flat next door, plus with the added factor that pretty much all of the girls in the flat next door were on the same course I quickly became friends with them all.
I was getting my ideal experience I had formed a girl group, we went out to all the events, spent work experience evenings dancing round the kitchen, writing lesson plans together, brain storming, essay group studies, movie nights the whole lot. Plus I had balanced seeing Sam and even when he did come up he too would sit with the group. It was ideal if not a little intense when looking back. I had alienated myself completely from my flat. The only thing I did in my own flat was shower and sleep. My cooking migrated next door and so did I. My second mistake.
However, as my first year continued as I guess inevitable to happen when you go to a University that is 90% girls, the bitchiness reared it’s ugly head. It was around the time of signing on for a second year house, an agreement if I remember rightly not easy to get out of. Regardless the turbulent strange period seemed to die down and as first year drew to a close we all went home for the summer and I felt at peace and content with going back and kicking second years butt. I worked hard over the summer to save some cash for the house and to play and use misbehave in second year with the girls again.
But as September loomed so did what I would describe as one of the hardest couple of years I’ve had to date – probably the hardest period in my life. Now to not go into too much detail, separations in the group appeared again and so did bitchy and awkwardness. I was left feeling alienated from University life, miserable and this where I started to experience anxiety. I would have mornings of waking up and taking hours just to appear from my bedroom because I would be too worried about the tension in the house. Due to this I withdrew a lot and became passive aggressive something I can’t really defend other than I knew it was a bad way to try and put up a barrier towards how I was feeling. I was going home a lot more and having melt downs every time I had to go back, I would beg sam not to make me go, beg him to come up as soon as he could as well as begging any friend I could to come up and spend time with me, I would miss trains and go back as late as possible, anything to stay away.
Then a friend approached me, we had spoken often and been out together but we weren’t extremely close, but close enough, we would spend time together in lessons and group outings. She started inviting me out, round her house, I would do study dates with her and her group of friends and due to this I found university life a little easier again. She was so lovely and kind and definitely someone I regret losing contact with even to this day. I think with out her I would have dropped out of second year, I owe her a lot. Sometimes I wish I could message her and explain how much her friendship meant to me in that time, but I haven’t worked up the courage yet.
As the end of second year came to a close so was our lease on the house and with one of the girls moving home and the other two making it evident they wanted to be separated which by this point I was more than happy with, I was left to figure out a plan on my own. Sadly my friend didn’t have room in her house. I did find one thanks to a childhood friend and I was half set on taking her room but the more I thought about it and after being in a pretty low place and countless calls home to my mum I made the decision to commute for my last year. After all I lived in Brighton and it was about a 50 minute journey by train so I packed everything up with Sam, drove off and never looked back. The weight that was lifted off my shoulders was huge.
September rolled around for the third and final time of my university life. In all this time I was still pretty set on becoming a teacher at the end of all of this. I was happier and I had a new perspective on university I was going to finish the course but I also still wanted room to party the university way.
Again due to my own bad habits I drifted. Due to having no where to stay after nights out the invites to go to university events stopped. Then when my final placement rolled around communication with university friends was low, due to not having that time to sit and brainstorm lessons together and the exhaustion of a full day teaching there wasn’t much room left for communication.
I haven’t spoken much about my work experiences. I enjoyed them a lot. They were hard, but teaching the children and watching them absorb what you were teaching them and the thrill of it all was exhilarating. I loved it!
So along came my last placement a full 12 weeks of teaching 60 days if you want to be precise, not bad. 60 days would fly by. I was ready to go, folders set up for lesson plans and paper work, the energy to go and spend time with the children and teach I felt buzzing. But the 60 days did not go as planned. I would have to say this was my worst experience so far in life. The anxiety became real. I didn’t gel with my last teacher, although my work ethic was the same as the two work experiences before this I was met with comments of “perhaps you should think of being a stay at home mum” and “the last student I had was amazing they did x, y, z” I would be told off as if I were a child if I were to mistakenly glue another child’s work into the wrong book, made to feel as if the parents of the children would get angry at me. I would have to take days off of placement because I would be throwing up with anxiety and be unable to get up from my bed. I would end up in the staff toilets feeling dizzy and panicky with the yearning to call my mum but not wanting to let her know how bad I was suffering. I’d turn up to the school and burst into tears (highly unprofessional and only fuelled the teacher’s dislike towards me) It is the reason as to why I am not a teacher today, I was made to feel as if I wasn’t good enough, and that I wouldn’t be able to survive as a teacher.
Although I managed to finish the placement and get a really good grade – much to the teachers surprise. I had lost my love of teaching and with that lost the motivation to go to university completely. My last term was spent missing lessons and only going to the really important ones. I would go and do work in the university library and got all my essays done and handed in in time my university life and dream was gone. I didn’t go to the last summer ball, I didn’t go to the last ever lecture where everyone celebrated the hard work we achieved. I did go to graduation day and did speak to a couple of the girls and all that fun stuff and even though my 3 years was not what I expected in the slightest I still managed to graduate with a 2:1 a grade I am absolutely over the moon with even now.
But the reason I write this is because at the end of the day I’m proud of all that I achieved, yeah perhaps I have a degree that doesn’t serve a huge purpose to me any more and a big old debt to go with it. But I proved to myself I could get a decent degree grade and that no matter what life throws your way you can still come out shining the other side. And if your university life was the best time then kudos to you. If like me it wasn’t ask yourself now, does it really matter? Has it really changed your life? I hope not! Because for me I am now probably the happiest I have been. I still have my wonderful boyfriend, the same group of friends I had before leaving for university and more. Plus with the spare time of not having to spend my evenings and weekends lesson planning I can sit here and write for my blog and create the content I want to. Life has a funny way of working out and as long as you don’t dwell on the past – which you never should life because can be pretty dandy whether you enjoyed university or not!