Friday, 26 August 2016

Starting At A New College/University?! Read on...

Hey peeps,

Seeing as it is the time for starting at school, college and university; I thought it would be perfect timing for me to talk a little about my tips/advice for starting somewhere new; specifically a residential place.
We all know how excited, scary and apprehensive it is when starting somewhere new hence why I'm doing this blog post.
It was fifteen years ago when I first went to a residential college, I was just sixteen years old and it was my first proper time away from home besides my many hospital stays. The college I went to was Beaumont College and it is run by Scope. I was a student there for three years and I made memories that will stay with me for a lifetime.

As it was residential and I was very lucky in having my own room, I was able to take whatever I wanted with me. I wanted to create a space that was my own and felt like home, so I had photo frames of my friends and family. I had posters up on the walls (the walls were bare!) and I also had my own bedding. I took my own bits of furniture; like a television stand, a little folding chair and table and I think I had my own bookcase. I probably took more than the average student there to be honest! Luckily, I only lived an hour away so could easily get back and forth whenever my family could pick me up.

It is important to familiarise yourself with your new local surroundings, whether it's the campus or town centre. Try to remember where the nearby shop is for example as you may never know when you need something. Never be afraid to ask for directions. When I went through my induction week, they took us round Lancaster and Morecambe to show us what was available etcetera - between you and me, I actually found this boring because I had already knew the local area with only living an hour away! We had to wear badges so that the staff knew who we were and we got to meet all of the teaching staff. This was exciting as it was so new!

Most places when it's induction/fresher's week, it's the best time to meet fellow new students. Everyone is in the same boat, so just be yourself and ask questions. I think it's a good idea to join clubs as you will meet other students who are interested in the same things as you or could be helpful for when your lessons start properly. After the day lessons had finished, they had evening sessions on which they encouraged students to join whether it being Film Club, Tai Chi, Fashion Club, Archery and so on.

I applied to be on the student union to which I was accepted. Soon people began to know who I was and it gave me a role that I could focus on. I became the student secretary; jotting the notes and typing them up. I enjoyed being a part of the student union and ended up being on it the entire three years I was there.

I made regular contact with my friends and family; by phone and letter writing (social media wasn't around back then) which definitely helped keep me going so I recommend everyone to keep in contact with those back home. I went home a lot during my first few terms which helped me settle in better (and it meant I could have a proper night's rest without fire alarms or buzzers going off through the night!).

In my room, I had my own little stash of food to snack on that I kept topped up by many visits to the nearby shop. Just be sure to not have anything that may be smelly as it's not pleasant having the smell of stinky food around your bed! Some students may be lucky in having their own fridge which is great as you'll get to keep some of your own shopping separate to everybody else's especially if there are students who pinch all the food from the kitchen. If you do have food in the kitchen then be sure to clearly put your name on it in BIG print.

Respect each other's privacy and remember that you are all in the same boat. Enjoy every minute, try not to stress the small things and don't forget to work hard. The harder you work, the better your results will be. Be yourself and always be kind, if you see someone who's looking a little lost or lonely then try and chat to them. They maybe a little shy or struggling with their work and aren't confident enough to ask for help. Sometimes we all need a friend especially when starting at a new school, college or university.

For those with special needs/disabilities and health issues, I would advise you to inform the new place of your difficulties. The more they know about you and the sooner they know, then they can prepare for your arrival better. At all educational centres, there are departments that deal with those who need extra help so be sure to contact them as soon as you can. 
When I started at my local Sixth Form College, it was difficult and I didn't have the confidence to speak up when I really needed help/assistance with anything and I struggled with the work i.e, the workload and the deadlines etc. The college was expecting me and they set up for me to have a learning support in my classes. It wasn't until the learning support staff members that I had in my 2nd year that it was made clear that I needed one to one sessions out of classes, extra time and that I was wanting to learn. Things soon improved for me and before long, I was nominated by a tutor for a Cumbrian Award and an in-college award. I even managed to gain top marks in some of my work which was definitely a first for me! I built a brilliant rapport/relationship with those learning support staff and to this day, I feel forever thankful to them. 

I hope that what I have said here will help you get the most of your school, college or university experience that much better and that you'll look back in years to come with lots of special memories. Enjoy it and let me know how you get on! 

Thank you for reading this, until next time... Bye for now xxx