Starting University

The clock tower above the university main entrance
The clock tower above the university main entrance

Original image taken from: http://www.facebook.com/newportuni

Starting Uni is not a new experience for me, I did this all a year ago while enrolled on a Computer Science course at Sussex University. However it did not work out for various reasons, one being that I was aiming to high and trying to study something my brain clearly did not like. I am glad I gave it a go though and I did learn a lot about computers and myself while I was there; it also led me to shaking things up a bit in my life and coming back to my roots in more ways than one. I decided to leave the south coast of England that I had happily called home for over ten years and return to the south coast of Wales where I had spent the majority of my childhood. I am now enrolled on a more arts based course at the University of Newport and so far I am much happier than before and can’t wait to sink my teeth into a degree that is much more suited to me.

So my first day started by having to find the right bus stop from which the free Uni bus operates as I live in the centre of town and for now the Uni is based in small outlying area of the town. The directions provided by the Uni beforehand indicated that the closed pick up point to me was a stop outside the train station in town. Now there are several stops down in front of the train station, the directions were not detailed enough to provide clarity on which exact one out of the six available.  However as I walked closer to the area it soon became obvious; on one side there was a lot of people several generations removed from me with suitcases, some not looking approvingly at the other side, where there was a large gathering of people slightly closer to my generation. It was quite a funny sight while I was walking down the road and able to see both sides head on thanks to the curve in the street. For some reason the classic wild west music sprang to mind and it looked like there might be a face off in the road between young and old. Well if the younger people didn’t either look terrified or apparently engrossed in various forms of technology. I probably looked like the former, as nerves had struck at this point and all I wanted to do was find someone else on my course. My experience last time was not pleasant as I never did find anyone on my particular course that I gelled with. It was a very large intake of students at the previous Uni and all the lectures were mixed with different courses resulting in you trying to find the fourteen other people enrolled on your course out of the two hundred or so sharing your lecture theatre. I made friends across courses thanks to the various social activities in Freshers week, but alas I still wished that I knew my fellow course mates better and hoped that history would not repeat itself here.

This time however fate had dealt me a nice hand and as I squished onto the very crowded bus I ended up standing infront of a girl talking about Team Fortress and how she too wished she could find someone else on her course. I was about to turn around and introduce myself, but she was talking to what appeared to be a good friend. I was also concentrating on not falling over or falling into her as this was a bus with standing room only. Plus lots of sharp turns and rounder-bouts are not your friend when you are standing up on the bus with only a small grip on a hand hold that’s on the back of one of the seats. This made it more into an interesting case of what I like to call bus surfing on the way to Uni, something I used to do in London on the way to school, makes the journey less mundane too. 🙂

Once we got there I lost sight of the girl standing behind me, but I had managed to grab her name as she talked to someone else. (This would prove useful in the near future.) As the times of the buses are not always lined up with the timetable at Uni I had just under and hour spare before the first induction talk. Having already come to the campus for an interview I already knew a good place to go and grab a coffee so that was my first destination. After refilling my caffeine reserves the search for the usual kinda stuff began from the toilets, the main reception, the shop, the cafe and the sports hall…all the places I needed or would like to know the location of in relation to one another. I must have looked quite lost as at one point I did find myself walking back and forth a corridor three times, but I had taken a wrong turn, thought I’d found a way out and stumbled into an enclosed out door area for smokers. (Which humorously was right outside the sports hall.)

Anyway after getting my bearings it was time to head to the induction talk. After finding a seat and feeling a little out of place all on my own the Dean came up to talk and introduce the names of a lot of staff members, none of which I was going to remember, but it was good to see the faces so I at least could spot them if need be. This introduction talk was by far better than the one I had at Sussex saying that you will need to give 110% and nothing less, that there are things you shouldn’t do and detailing the punishments if you do end up doing something you shouldn’t. With a small afterthought of ‘we’re here if you need us’ it came across as quite intimidating, and I say that even after working in retail during the Christmas rush. This time it was a little more chilled and encouraging, the basic message was that the staff here are not here to get you to absorb information and regurgitate it, as it was a creative school it is you who are expected to be the driving force behind your education. They are here to help you on your way to discovering your own creativity and drive. The Dean accepted that not all the faces he saw before him today would be the same faces he would see upon graduation, or even next year for the welcome back talk. At the end of the day he asked us all to give it all we got, be the best that we can, and above all always ask for help and guidance if we needed/wanted it as he would like to see as many faces as possible next year. Sorry Sussex your regimented rule hand out and what felt like a telling off before the term had even begun was not as inspiring as this, I think I maybe in the right place this time.

Anyway after a lot of other talks by various departments and people advertising parts of the Uni or services we were then all called up to meet our course tutors, one course at a time. A mild chaos ensued after this as we are in the sports hall that has two tiers and the tutors had managed to inadvertently position themselves at different levels. The rule was that the tutors came down to the front and did not leave until they were sure they had all their new students. This gave everyone a good  chance to see who was on our course as we all collected together at the front of the hall. At first I was the only girl standing in a growing crowd of guys, I started to get a little nervous but thought that it wouldn’t be that bad, just be like being at work again to be honest. Yet it was at this point I saw the girl that was behind me on the bus, and the girl I had seen post on the Uni freshers message board. So in a rare (in comparison to recently) moment of confidence I turned around and asked if she was the girl talking about Team Fortress on the bus. It turned out she was and all of a sudden we were chatting away as our new tutors led us to the computer labs for our course introduction talk.

That talk was rather amusing as again it was pretty relaxed, though we were given the distinct impression that there would be hell to pay if we messed about and didn’t get our work done. We were after all here to further our career, and any mucking about at the end of the day would not do ourselves any favours, and more importantly it would make the head of course look bad. And we wouldn’t want that now would we?! 🙂 The sense of humour of the tutors here reminded me of my college tutor, and I was liking it already. I felt that I had made the right choice, it wasn’t going to be easy, but I felt more ‘at home’ here in the first five minutes than I ever did at Sussex.

Yet it is more about the course content and the people you are on it with, everything that is lined up for the next three years sounds so exciting and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it all. My confidence is back, it still fluctuates a little, but I finally feel that I am back on course again and heading in a direction that I actually want to go in rather than one that I should go in as it was expected or advised for me to do. I do regret not listening to my gut instinct and not going to Sussex to begin with, but it appears that everything does happen for a reason and I am now in the right place at the right time.

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