Summer university residential!

Now we all like to feel prepared for the future, don't we? So I feel the chance to spend 3 days at my first choice university during the summer was the best preparation possible for the September ahead. A chance to learn more about the course, attempt to navigate the campus, but more importantly meet the people who I will potentially be spending the next 3 years with.

As I was packing for residential, besides thinking that my bag was far too small, I really didn't know what to expect. Was everyone going to be really shy and quiet for the whole 3 days? Maybe the people in my flat wouldn't want to talk, or maybe I realised I didn't like the course anymore... Also, the thought of having a seizure or falling was a little more frightening than normal- let's be honest, it was going to happen. I have become so used to being around people who know exactly what to do, people who have probably seen me fall a hundred times and (I hope) don't panic like crazy during a seizure. Due to being in this situation of constantly knowing people has been great, just makes the rare occasions of knowing no one slightly more interesting! The great thing about the residential was that all of those things could be found out, I didn't have to wait until September to learn all of these things.

Tuesday morning arrived and luckily I didn't have far to travel. I sat in reception surrounded by other students waiting to sign in, trying to make conversation with whoever was on my immediate left or right at the time. People instantly seemed friendly and to my relief welcomed the small talk as opposed to sitting in silence. It wasn't long until I was off to the flat I would be staying in for the next three days, with it all feeling very official with lanyards and flat keys. Once I had unpacked I headed to the kitchen/ living area and waited for others to arrive. We had an ambassador who was on each floor and she was there to offer any advice during our stay and help out in any way she could. Before I knew it we were straight into all sorts of workshops and academic sessions, the three days flew by!

I found all of the sessions interesting and after every single one it just confirmed the fact I wanted to study psychology and that this university was the place I wanted to come to. All of the staff I encountered was friendly and welcoming, always willing to help. A chance to get to know potential lecturers was really nice, as well as them knowing what they were really letting themselves in for. Luckily I only had two seizures while I was there and only came across one broken lift- both an excellent opportunity to be introduced to the site team and first aiders, because aren't they the best people you need to know? The student ambassadors who were helping out with this residential tried their best to take me on all the accessible routes, obviously this was also new to the vast majority of them. This meant that by the end of the trip I knew the routes better than they did, coming from someone who is terrible at directions I was very impressed with myself- and stands me in very good stead for next year.

I found myself very quickly getting to know people and coming across people who I shared various interests with, from people who were on my course or in my flat, to people who I sat with at lunch. Also finding people who I shared a common interest with was really nice: people who loved Disney films, who loved to knit (and I will teach to crochet) or people who shared the misfortune of having chronic pain. Over the next few days we got to know each other a little more and on the first evening without thinking I said "can't wait to get to the flat and have a walk around" forgetting that I had been sat down all day and these new found friends weren't actually aware that I could walk, or why I was in a wheelchair to begin with, they just looked at me like I had gone mad. That's when the questions started. I was glad they were interested and I was not bothered in the slightest that they were now asking me questions, which they had probably been wanting to find out all day. For them to learn a little more didn't stop the friendship created, in fact the opposite. To get complimented on my splint or commended on my ability to choose the nicest shade of purple for my wheelchair was only the start of that evening's discussion.

I had known these people two days when we went bowling, yet it felt like I had known them for so much longer. We were already making jokes about each other (in the nicest possible way I promise!) and the fact I had already been told to run up the stairs was amusing. Everyone had got used to me standing up and going for a walk, I was no longer getting the shocked looks as if it was some kind of miracle- as funny as that was. Unfortunately, I kept up the trend and fell during bowling, despite still winning the game at this point! I instantly thought that they may freak out a little and stand over me or try and get me up right away- neither of which would have been helpful but tends to be the norm when people don't know how do deal with a 'Chloe wobble' and therefore not their fault. To my surprise, this didn't happen and before I knew it we were all just sat on the floor having a conversation, no hurry to get up, no acknowledgement that we were in the middle of a bowling alley- just a good old floor party! This meant way more than they realised, and not really something they would understand, but I was very grateful.

When it reached the end of the third day I don't think any of us actually wanted to leave. Huddled round our bags, waiting to go our separate ways, no one wanting to be the first to move- just hoping we all get the grades needed and would see each other in September. With everyone swapping social media and group chats being created, the countdown to September has begun. Fingers crossed to be reunited with all these very funny people, at the end of the day we have already arranged to go see a film that comes out in November, so it must happen!

~ Chloe x

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