I have recently started my Uni course (see Back to University). I’m a student again! So I wanted to share with you the story of how I decided to go to Uni the first time round.
Applications had to be in by September. This point passed and I hadn’t applied to any University to do anything. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. (Who actually does at eighteen?) I originally wanted to be a Teacher but then I did a placement whilst at college in a School and didn’t like the amount of paperwork they had to take home. I wanted my work to be my work and my home life to be my home life. A lecturer at college at the time mentioned about Children’s Nursing to me. I knew nothing about it, but on a whim in early January I decided to apply. They accepted my late application. Three of the four Universities I had applied too rejected me outright. They looked at my qualification grades on the application and as I was not an ‘A’ student didn’t even bother to interview me.
I arrived at The University of Central Lancashire for my interview. I was dressed in a shirt and tie and had my portfolio under my arm. It was a big open room, with pairs of lecturers dotted about the room. There was a waiting area filled with hopefuls, all waiting to be interviewed. All looked as I felt, nervous. This was clearly visible by jittering legs, messing with blouses, playing with their hair as well as other give away signs. I sat down and watched as the other interviewees were called one by one by these pairs of lecturers. It seemed that after being asked a few key questions they were asked to return to the waiting area. And after waiting 10 mins or so they’d be called back by the lecturers and either offered a place or not.
After a short while my name was called. I took a deep breath and walked over. I shook both their hands and they offered me a seat. I was asked some questions, I can’t remember all of them. But one was “What do you think is the importance of the role of the parents when caring for a sick child?” I replied:
“I think it’s absolutely important. They know their child and what’s normal for their child better than we do.” After the interview I was asked to go back to the waiting area, I had not even sat down in the waiting area and they called me back. “We would like to offer you a place on the course. It would have to be next year though, because we have a full intake this year.” I immediately accepted the place feeling exhilarated that I had made it on the course.
A year to wait (or maybe not…)
I had qualified as a Nursery Nurse at college and went on an agency. I was asked to go and work in a private day nursery in Manchester. I started the Nursery and loved it. I enjoyed working with the children, talking to their parents (letting them know what their child had been up to all day) and my friendly work colleagues. After two weeks the manager called me in to her office and offered me a job, stating she would pay the agency £1,000 to breech the contract of not recruiting their staff. She offered me the better pay than most of the girls there (£4.95 per hour) and wanted to make me a room co-ordinator for the 2-3 year olds. This all sounded great!
However I couldn’t afford to live close by and getting the train at 5am from my local town in order to get to the nursery for 7:30am was taking it’s toll. So she spoke to a parent of one of the children in the Nursery and she agreed to let me rent a room on the cheap. So I had a job, responsibility and a new place to live. I even by this point met a boyfriend who lived in Manchester too. All good apart from money being tight. I was one of the better paid there but by the time I’d paid my rent (which included all bills and council tax) and bought my food I practically had no spare cash.
That evening my boyfriend (at the time) rang me and said he wasn’t going to Uni this year. He was going to save up and go next year. But I already knew that he had savings. I encouraged him to go (I wanted him to be happy and I know he really wanted to do the course he’d chosen), but he stated he had already given up his place. He later admitted that he did this to be with me.
One day while walking home from work I looked down at my shoes. They had become scruffy and had developed what seemed to be a mouth (meaning the soul was detaching it’s self from the rest of the shoe). I suddenly realised that I couldn’t afford a pair of shoes. Not even a cheap pair. If I bought any I’d be short on cash to pay everything that I needed too. And if I borrowed some money, I couldn’t afford to pay it back the following month. I was poor. I knew I didn’t have much money as I lived close to the city centre, but never went out. When my boyfriend (at the time) and I went out he paid. Then my mobile started to ring.
“Hello…It’s ….. from the University of Central Lancashire….we’d like to offer you a place this year….starting in four weeks…..”
I looked down at my shoes and said: “Yes, I’d love too. I need a new pair of shoes.” I’m sure the women on the end of the phone thought I was mad, but I knew what it meant. Bursary from the NHS to train and would lead to a better paid job meaning more financial stability.
The moral of the Story
Although I am more financially well off now, I understand what it is like to be poor. To struggle to make ends meet, to have the basic food, no money for leisure or luxury. I will always remember those times of hardship and those times help me fully appreciate how people are currently struggling due their low wage, the credit crunch and increases in prices.
Thanks for reading my ramblings,