It hasn’t been too long since I sat and wrote a little personal update, but at the same time, I feel as if so much has happened since.
One of the reasons for starting this blog this year was to give myself something to do during my gap year, but also to keep track of the things I’ve learnt, and the places I’ve been, (both physically, and mentally). As a result, it would almost feel wrong to ignore something as big as this. This week I’ve made (or, more like finalised), quite a big decision.
Time is flying by fast, and before I know it, I’ll be facing the next chapter.
In many ways, it feels utterly strange that university has finally come round. I’m fairly certain I did my first initial ‘research’ (and I use that term loosely), before choosing my GCSE options, just on the off-chance I needed any specific subjects.
(I can’t even remember what subject I was looking to study at that point?!)
Since then, I’ve spent summer’s doing more detailed research, poring over prospectuses, and planning which Open Days I was going to attend.
I visited my first university in October 2015, and after that, visited 5 more (some of them more than once), and travelled over 3,500 miles to get to them all (spending many hours on trains).
I’ve gone through the UCAS system twice, written 2 personal statements (plus many more drafts), and received both offers, and rejections.
And so in reality, this ‘university process’ has gone on for quite a while. (And I haven’t even started studying yet.)
But the waiting game is finally over.
This week, I moved onto the next step. It’s finalised on UCAS; there’s no going back now.
As of September, I will be a student again!
As of September, I’ll actually be at university.
As of September, my home for the next four years will be St Andrews!
In many ways, this is really exciting. But more than that, it’s actually real.
I’m not someone who likes change, and in many ways, tries to avoid it at all possible costs. But I know that change is a part of life, and although I may try, I’ll never actually succeed in avoiding it. (Because I know deep down, I don’t want to live at home forever).
The prospect of moving away from home to university, and starting on that next chapter, fills me with such a mix of emotions, that it’s almost hard to articulate. One of the things I’m being challenged to do this year is to actually work out what I’m feeling, rather than either, ignoring it, or saying I’m fine.
And so, this is me attempting to be real. To be honest. And to say, that while this is exciting, it’s also quite scary. It would be wrong to say that it’s ‘all singing, all dancing’, when in reality, it’s been a difficult journey to get here, and I’m under no illusion that the next few months are going to be a bit of a rollercoaster.
In many ways, I’ve been living in a year-long transition between school and university, and I almost think this has made the prospect of leaving home slightly more daunting. While I don’t regret my gap year in the slightest, and having the opportunity to experience ‘real life’ has been invaluable, it certainly makes me feel slightly less prepared when thinking about starting university.
I’m not surrounded by people living through the same things: receiving and accepting offers, applying for Student Finance, and getting things ready. Instead, part of me feels like I’m living through this stuff on my own, and discovering what I have to do by myself.
While I’m more than excited to get back into the swing of studying again, because in reality, that’s something I really miss, I’m also apprehensive about what the next step will involve.
Standing in the quad in St Andrew’s, I knew deep down that this is where I wanted to study. I knew that this was the right place for me to be. But despite knowing this, I couldn’t say it out loud.
The thought of simply saying “This will be my home in September” was terrifying, and it made me want to cry. As much as I knew it to be true, speaking it aloud brought it into reality.
So, we did a backtrack. We walked back round, into the courtyard, and stood there, looking across at the current students putting away the last bits and pieces from the Visiting Day.
Standing there, Mum asked me: “Do you want this to be your home for the next four years?”
That, I knew the answer for. That answer, was definitely “Yes.”
And yes, we both stood and cried for a bit. But actually, that’s okay. Moving to uni, and making those decisions about the next step aren’t just something as simple as deciding what to have for breakfast in the morning, and I’d be a bit naïve if I treated this as if it were.
When writing this down now, it almost feels a little dramatic. But I’m not afraid to say that this is something I’m anxious about, even if I’m also quite excited. Getting to this point has been a journey, the rejection I mentioned in this post, was for St Andrews – and to be in the position where I’ve now accepted that offer, feels like a momentous occasion, especially when at times I’ve doubted whether it would even be an option.
There is so much to be excited for, and while I know I’m a little reticent, and a little apprehensive, I’m trying to choose to let the excitement win through. I’m not ignoring the other feelings – but instead will attempt to deal with those. But I don’t want them to mar what could be a really exciting few months.
I’m excited to learn new things, to read more, and to challenge myself academically.
I’m excited to meet new people, broaden my horizons, and experience life a little differently.
I’m excited about what opportunities may arise in the next four years, and what my life could look like during that time.
904 days after visiting for the first time, and falling in love with the uni, the course, and the place, I accepted my unconditional offer, and know that I will be beginning my degree in September.
While I’ve been living through this, and thinking about it now, I can’t help but be reminded of two verses.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
“This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
I have trusted in God’s timing. Trusted in his perfect plans. And that no matter what, even when I don’t understand what’s going on, as was the case with this year, I know that He’s got plans greater than I could ever dream of.
And finally, there are verses throughout the Bible that tell us ‘Do not fear’. On the plane on the way home, I’d put some music on to shut out some really chatty passengers. As this song (see below) came on, I was struck by the words, and the reminder it served of the following.
- I don’t need to be afraid, because I’m not doing this alone.
- Even if I am, then in His strength, I am made brave.
In this whole process, God’s got me this far. He’s not going to let me down now. And my challenge for the next few months, and beyond, is to remember that. To remember His promises, and to rely on that.
Because I’m not doing this on my own.