When I finished my A-levels, my plan was to go to university in Manchester to study neuroscience. I was on track to achieve this, but after my results came back, my grades were not sufficient to secure my place. Through some help from my dad, I found available spaces on another neuroscience course. After contacting the university, they gave me a place and I would move up to study there about month later. I was moving away from my home in Birmingham, and settling in to spend 4 years at the university of Glasgow.
My time in Scotland was full of mixed emotions, and the tumultuous time that I experienced eventually lead to me leaving the university and the city after just over 2 years. Though I found a city that I love and felt welcome in, I was never able to associate the time I was spending in lectures and in labs with any feelings of ambition or even true interest. I felt like I was going nowhere, and that wasting several years to pursue something that would not lead to a personally rewarding career would be a huge mistake. Despite this, because I feared what would happen if I did ‘throw in the towel’, I let myself believe if I pushed on that it would all fall into place. I met people I still cherish, but I also put myself through unnecessary stress and unhappiness.
There were many positives that being at university at the age of 18 bestowed, especially being in a city over 200 miles away from home. Organising lab work and ensuring the timetable I enrolled on was not heavy with constant work meant I learnt a semblance of time and work management. I found out, very quickly, that sleep was a commodity to be valued and that getting good quality sleep and restful relaxation could lead to better focus and a brighter mindset. Unfortunately, something that I carried over with me from my time at school was a negative outlook when assessments or exams approached. My self-confidence and optimism plummeted. By letting this become a recurrent problem, and never looking to resolve the issue, it dogged me throughout my time there and still does.
After a period of unemployment and some work in customer services, I am now studying nursing at Birmingham City University. While unemployed I spent a significant amount of time thinking about how the most rewarding jobs would be those in public service, and that my interest in human biology would help work in healthcare. The final part of the factors that influenced my decision to apply for nursing was the sense that I wanted to be able to have a genuine conversation with the people I cared for, and for that conversation and the care around that to be what made them feel less vulnerable within the care setting. Having already been unsuccessful at getting my first choice of university when I was 18, I was adamant I would do my best in the interviews and get into BCU. And to my surprise, the university I was most interested in gave me a place. Reflecting on the way I got through those interviews has already led me to be more intuitive in other application and interview processes.
So far through the nursing course, I have altered the way in which I take in information. Instead of attempting to rote learn as much as possible, I recognise that I can remember processes in almost a flow chart like manner. Anatomy and physiology is an integral part of our course, and by visualising the pieces of information as a timeline with one part leading on to the next, this systematic approach cemented long bits of information in my memory. This I apply to communication techniques, practical skills and even when evaluating my own mistakes.
Because I discovered this quite early in my time on the nursing course, I also started to reach out and help my friends and peers with the parts of the course that confused them. With the struggle I went through during my first university experience, I recognised how easy it was to fall into a trap of losing self-belief through doubting your own capabilities. I think that through this project I can learn more about how I interpret information, and how I can be affected by my learning experience so far. By adding to this project, I hope that others can use the information gathered to guide other students to overcoming their negative experiences in education and developing their own inner strengths.
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