As I'm now well within my second year at ARU, I thought now would be a good time to recap my first year and share my experiences - the good and the bad.
The Fear of Change: Transitioning to University Life
Starting last September, I was terrified. It was a big change for me to go to a university where I had only one person I properly knew before starting which is a big contrast from what I was used to. Coming from secondary school, I had spent 7 years with the same friends the same routine, especially sixth form where the bonds I had already formed grew stronger.
Navigating Loneliness and Independence: My First Month at University
The first month or so for me was very up and down for me, I was deeply missing my friends who had moved away for UNI and feeling quite lonely as my friends who didn't go to UNI were working a lot. However, I eventually grew to like the independence being on my own sometimes gave me. I grew to enjoy my own company- whilst also making new friends at UNI over time and meeting up with them outside of uni. Although the change was hard for me, I got through it and I'm now thriving at uni. Change can be scary but it's worth it in the end.
Supportive Environment: Thriving Through Nursing Placements
I had two placements in my first year. Both ward based. I enjoyed them thoroughly, but they were gruelling and definitely an experience. Although ARU tries to support you the best, they can with what you might experience whilst on placement unfortunately they can't anticipate every experience you might encounter- this is why placement is so important as nursing students!
Getting real life practice with real life patients is what really develops not only your clinical skills, but also your patient interaction skills, which is the fundamental skill of nursing. If you are unable to appropriately react and interact with your patients’ emotions, behaviours, and actions then you will really struggle when you qualify. But this is exactly what placement prepares you for: to develop these skills in a supportive environment. During both my placements the staff members I worked alongside were so supportive and really helped me to develop my skills but also helped offer advice emotionally during challenging situations.
Getting into the routine of being on placement can be hard. I found the early morning starts (4:30 am for me eek) very tiring so it is always important to look after yourself and remember you come first. My favourite part of placement was developing my clinical skills as this is what I find exciting and enjoyable.
On a nursing course you will rely on your peers for support. You are all experiencing very similar things at the same time so it is amazing to have that support but also just be able to discuss your feelings about something and to have someone who can relate.
Facing Challenges: Overcoming Essay Writing and Academic Hurdles
My first OSCE I luckily passed first time but don't worry, it is not awful, they want you to succeed and aren't trying to make life difficult for you. They are simply trying to make sure you are hitting the milestones expected and if not, they can offer support and guidance.
A course such as nursing is very very busy, and it can be difficult to manage at times if you have responsibilities outside of UNI. Being able to manage your time properly is essential to keep you on track to pass your first year with ease. Making sure not to leave assignments to the last minute is a big must. But also knowing when to ask for help! ARU has a range of different support systems available to you so it's important to not be shy as it is only your learning that will be affected if you don't reach out. You will face no judgement; they are there to help!
Building Resilience: Reflecting on the Transformative First Year at University
I had two essays last year. The first one I found quite tricky as a lot of things were very new to me such as referencing work and just academic writing in general. However, after passing my first essay and getting some feedback I found the second one a lot less daunting, managed it easier and even got a higher grade which I was very proud of. The UNI tries their best to guide you through the assessments and don't just leave you to get on with it on your own so don't worry.
Overall, I loved my first year I feel I have developed as a person and become stronger and more resilient. I have made amazing friends and worked with some amazing people. Heading into the third month of this year it has definitely ramped up, but I feel prepared to get through it.