In the middle of September 2016, better known as the 18th, my life changed in a whole new way. I started my undergraduate history degree at Royal Holloway, University of London – which, in fact, is definitely not in London. Rather, a 40-50 minute boring train journey into London Waterloo station, through various small towns that previously didn’t exist in my own geography of South East England.
Despite writing many months after such a prolific and significant change to my life, over the last few days I’ve believed it to be important to review the last few months. As a normal student, this substantial change is huge, leaving everything you’ve ever known and grown up with, is now completely different. No matter how much you think you’ve prepared yourself, it still is not enough. I remember putting photos of friends and family on my pin board when it suddenly hit me – I was leaving some of them behind. Obviously, this included my beautiful but often dim, dog Dee. Undoubtedly, this was pretty difficult at first but thanks to FaceTime, I could see her confused face and Dobby-esc ears everyday if I wanted to. At times like this, modern technology is a blessing.
As well as being a fresher, I am also blind, which brings its own exciting but also throws in relatively difficult obstacles. The most important that I’d suggest someone with any type of difficulty is to be upfront and honest about it. There is no point being shy or embarrassed about it because the only person it will affect in the long run, is you. This includes your flat mates too. The first night out I had with my flat mates was incredible but before I had such an awesome time, I had to tell them about my sight. Yes, it was an extremely daunting prospect, but it’s integral. The majority of people will be understanding and want to help, so don’t ever be put off if someone isn’t supportive. They might have never come across someone with a visual impairment before, so might need to adjust themselves. However, I was quite lucky that the people I live with at the moment are so supportive.
In regards to the department you’re studying with, they should already be aware of your situation beforehand. Nevertheless, you might still need to mention it again to the members of staff that you’ll be working closer with, such as your personal advisor. This just makes the process a lot smoother. You’ll want to make your transition as simple as possible.
When looking back at the first term, I learnt so much as a student and as an individual. The standard skills: cooking, cleaning, all-nighters, washing, drinking a whole bottle of gin etc have helped me grow as a human. Despite having various difficulties with Insist being a pain in the arse with my DSA, I did all this and passed ALL my essays. No matter what difficulties that you face, anything is doable, belief and support are the only things required.
But the most important thing – JUST ENJOY YOURSELF AS IT IS FIRST YEAR AFTER ALL!!