So lets just start with a little flashback to the summer after A levels. I had no idea what to do with my life, all of my close friends were planning for university while I was planning a gap year. I knew I wanted to go to university, but by the time I decided I wanted to do geography, it was all to late, so I was going to take a year out. I didn’t really have any set plans apart from volunteering for 10 weeks with Raleigh ICS during the spring. I was also VERY adamant to my parents that I wasn’t going to go through clearing, because my 18-year-old self was very snobby about clearing. However, like most things, my parents were actually right and boredom led me to have a parooze of what clearing could offer. I saw a few universities I’d recognized there, including Lancaster. Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t actually have a clue about Lancaster, not even where it was, but as a Top 10 university and 3rd at the time for Geography, I decided to take the plunge.
I still often reflect now on how lucky I have been, Lancaster changed me in ways I couldn’t have anticipated. Throughout my final years at school I suffered from post viral fatigue syndrome and wasn’t in a good way. But, coming to Lancaster was also (thankfully) when I’d say I completely got over this. I’ve changed so much at Lancaster and did so many things I never thought I’d be brave or capable enough for. So, since I’m still not over finishing university, I thought I’d share with you how studying at Lancaster had such an impact on the person I am today.
1) Running for a college committee position
I’d been at Lancaster a few short weeks and already fallen completely in love. My flat mates were brilliant, I’d joined my college netball club and the actual work part wasn’t all that bad either. So, when the opportunity arose to help run the college as part of the Junior Common Room, I couldn’t help but put myself forward. At school, I never even applied to be a prefect, never mind have dreamt I’d have the guts to put myself forward against 5 other girls in an election. Somehow however, I won and as Female Welfare Officer for Bowland college, I had the best year. This experience pretty much constantly put me out of my comfort zone, from helping to organise college socials, to running campaigns, I’m still proud of what we managed to do.
2) Volunteering abroad
So, I know I was going to do this one anyway but, when I decided that I would be going to university, I postponed my volunteering until the summer between 1st and 2nd year and thinking back to how nervous I was before leaving, I’m not sure I would have actually gone ahead with it if I hadn’t already had my 1st year at Lancaster. I volunteered for Raleigh International as part of the DFID funded ICS program, spending 10 weeks in a small community in Nicaragua on a health and sanitation project. This was such a life changing experience and while I won’t miss the mice crawling through my hair at night (most terrifying thing to ever wake up to!), I always miss my wonderful host family and showering with a view and am already counting down the days until I’m 23 and can go back again as a team leader.
3) LIVING abroad
Fast forward to the summer between 2nd and 3rd year, where I again made a very bold on the spot decision to live in Croatia for 3 months as an Erasmus student. Now, don’t get me wrong, on the flight to Zagreb with nowhere to live, no language skills and a whole lot of worry, I’d never regretted a decision more. But, once again, this was another incredible and life-changing experience. The 3 of us lived in Zagreb as students undertaking independent work for our dissertation, which also meant there was plenty of time for exploring. There were very stressful moments, including finding somewhere to live and trying to negotiate our way around a completely foreign country, but I also completely fell in love with Croatia and will definitely return.
4) Running my college netball club
Going from hating netball at school to running a club of 52 girls was a pretty big jump. But, I was a keeno from the moment I joined Bowland netball club, it was the perfect mix of socials and sport, with some pretty great girls thrown in also. So, come 3rd year, I decided to take my keenness to a whole new level and run for A team captain. This year was stressful beyond belief – running bi-weekly training sessions for 4 teams, captaining my own A team, leading the exec and managing to play some netball inbetween. But, I certainly learnt a lot from this year and I like to think I made more successful decisions than mistakes and definitely was having a good time more than I was stressing out.
5) Making a complete idiot of myself
Following the netball theme, 3rd year is the year I like to refer to as my glory year for fancy dress. I think it was because this was the year I just really didn’t care what other people thought of me and was first major sign of how much university had changed me. Yes, I went out dressed like an absolute tit, but I also had a bloody good time doing it.
6) Sitting on a chair of human fat (yes, you read that right).
Geography has taken me to some weird and wonderful places, including sitting on a chair of human fat but I have loved my degree beyond belief and the diversity of subjects it covers. I dabbled in all aspects of geography, from doing my final dissertation on bugs in rivers, to doing a role play as a Tunisian policeman and even visiting Iceland, it’s fair to say I’ve had a varied 4 years, but that’s all part of what kept it interesting.
So, at the end, I’ve managed to come out of Lancaster with a 1st class Msci Geography degree, but these memories are what will stay with me. It’s fair to say I well and truly landed on my feet and made the absolute most of my time at Lancaster. While I’m still not over the fact I’ve graduated, I’m excited for my new job in September (actually earning money!) and all of the unexpected opportunities that this next stage will bring.
Did any of you take a gamble and win like I did with Lancaster? What unexpected opportunities did a bold decision bring you? Let me know in the comments!