Brace yourselves, this is a long one!!
Hello! Here I am, writing a post that a year ago, when I started this blog, seemed donkeys years away. I’ve come to the end of my Gap Year and start university in less than two weeks!
Reading back on my first posts, it seems I aimed to write a blog that wasn’t the typical happy chirpy account of the prefect gap year. Many things have gone wrong but even more things have gone right! When starting my Gap Year I was fearful, worried and not at all that happy which I think comes across in my first posts. I didn’t really have much to do and few friends around.
My main fears were being alone, being forgotten about by friends and not knowing what to do. A big part of this was because my gap year wasn’t planned. UCAS decided this for me in May time last year which was when I was in the heart of exam study. So I wasn’t concentrating on this year. If I could do things again, I would definitely plan it better. Also in terms of my fears, at the beginning these seemed to be founded, but in time I felt more at ease with the idea of being on a gap year. How things change in a year; I have made some great friends this year, who I will keep in contact with, and have become closer to some old ones, whilst others I have become less close to.
This year has definitely taught me a lot. I’ve learnt so many skills that I can take to uni. I mean I can take blood, a skill not taught for a while at medical school. I’ve also learnt that it is OK not to follow the majority. All of my friends went to uni and I could have taken up my insurance choice. I didn’t and think this was the best choice I could have made. This year has been challenging in parts when I have missed having a group of close friends around me. Now, I feel that I’m less apprehensive of being ‘the only one’ doing things. Uni definitely does not feel as daunting as it would have done last year, I’ve survived a year alone, I can take on the world now haha!
I also found that I have matured. Working makes you have a different outlook on things in general. I realised this when my friends returned from uni. There is a difference in people who spend the year out compared to those who go straight into uni. It’s not to say one is better than the other, but going out into the real world definitely puts a lot more things into perspective and made me appreciate the simple things far more than I did previously. For example, my mum cooking dinner as soon as she got in from work. After work, at times, I would be so tired that I’d rather go to bed hungry than slave over a stove.
Working gave me a responsibility that I never had before. Last year, if I didn’t turn up to school I would be a detriment to myself. This year, I would be letting down my colleagues, and patients. It definitely made me aware of how one action can affect many people.
Whilst writing this blog, I kept a list of aims for the year:
- Apply to medical school October 2012
This is one of the hardest but most rewarding things I have done to date. The worry of not knowing whether I’d get in to medical school, which uni to choose, not feeling supported by my school, and whether I was still good enough for medicine after being rejected by 4 universities was challenging. The feeling, when I saw my offer, of overwhelming emotion, joy, shock, and relief definitely made it worthwhile.
- Interview for medical school December 2012, February 2013
This was relieving as I was already a stage further than I was last year. My first interview was really good except faltering on one question but my second interview wasn’t as great as I felt stressed with the number of interviews we had in such a short time, it was like torture!
- Offer for medical school January 2013
BEST. DAY. EVER! 2 years in the making, one of the best feelings in the world I expect, particulalrly when you’ve spent so long working and working towards it.
- Start learning how to drive August 2012
It started well…
- Pass driving theory
I bought the book and read a few chapters…
- Pass driving test
After about March time driving came to a natural end. I wasn’t too interested in it and think I will take it up again when I have some incentive to do so, like in clinical years when my hospital is bound to be miles away from me!
- Learn how to cook five staple meals: Pasta – September 2012, Burgers – February 2013, Stir Fry – April 2013, Mum’s fried rice August 2013
Well that’s basically five because pasta can be cooked in so many ways. I still think I won’t be eating my best at uni for some strange reason haha
- Work in a hospital November 2012 to June 2013
The best and worst part of my year! I had so much fun at work but also at times had some of my worst times there. Work is just full of up and downs and I can’t imagine working in a setting that is not a hospital. The camaraderie in a hospital is something that I don’t think is experienced in any other line of work. You bond with each other over the most odd things and find yourself having deep conversations whilst cleaning the sluice room! This job will always stick with me and the ward will always be ‘my ward.’ Having said that there were times when I just wanted to go home, but that was just pure tiredness after a 14.5 hr shift and the remnants of difficult patients and relatives, but they make the job that bit more challenging which was good.
- Become more independent
For me this was extremely important because after a string of unfortunate events when I travelled on my own when I was younger, I began to hate going anywhere alone. Now I don’t worry so much when I need to travel somewhere alone. I got a 9hr train up to Scotland alone and have travelled around London so much that I’m a walking tube map. Seriously, ask me a stop and I’ll probably know which line it’s on! Another thing was i really disliked going anywhere in the dark. Whilst I will not put myself in danger by walking in alleys at midnight, I walked myself to work for my night shift at 8pm winter time, so it was as dark as it gets really. Although, I must admit that I was a bit jumpy but I did it, and it’s something else I’ve accomplished. The one thing I will miss next year is being financially independent. Not once in this year have I asked my parents for financial help which I am so proud of. Working for my own money is something i’ll never give up. I feel so proud that I’ve been able to pay for holidays, trips to see friends at their universities, my accommodation deposit, a festival ticket, and buy all of my things for uni myself. I’m not saying it is wrong to rely on your parents but for me, coming from a single parent family, I’ve always felt the need to take as much of the strain off of my mother as possible and to become self sufficient, which I’ve been able to do this year. I feel like such a grown up now haha
- Visit Friends at Uni Cambridge – November 2012/June 2013, St. Andrews – March 2013, Oxford – May 2013
This was good fun! See my Unitour posts for more details!
- See Coldplay live June 2012/November 2013
One of the highlights of my being so far!
- Go abroad for a month – Amsterdam 2013
This is where I wish I could have planned my Gap Year in advance so I could do more traveling. I mean I loved Amsterdam but really wanted to spend a long period of time abroad! I didn’t really have any travel buddies as most of my friends were at uni, but maybe next year eh?!
- Get back into exercising: Race for life – July 2013
Well I did one race ,but I think I may just have to come to terms with my balooning waist size since I will be mainly eating ready meals!
This year I have seen more poo than a new born baby’s mother, spotted someone having a heart attack, learned to take blood, seen both life and death, ran a 5k, been to Amsterdam, been told I would never be a doctor, traveled across the UK, started to learn how to drive, made new friends, been given a place at top a top medical school, and had one of the best but hardest years of my life! If anyone is thinking of taking a Gap Year, I’d say do it, as long as you know what you’d like to get out of the year. Yes it will be tough if you are the only one in your friendship group doing one but I think this prepares you for adult life when you embark on many things alone. I can’t believe it’s finished and definitely want to do it all again, it’s been such a fast year.
So what’s next for me now? I will continue blogging through uni on this site and will…
So, I have to admit I’ve been pretty bad on the blogging front, but this summer I have been incredibly busy. I guess I’ll just pick up from where I left off.
After going to Cambridge, about a week or so later, I came to the end of my time working at the hospital. I felt like this was the best time to leave in order to still enjoy my summer before uni. My last day wasn’t as emotional as I thought it would be. It was probably one of the busiest shifts I had had in a while. I also had to teach a newbie the ropes, so wouldn’t take it easy like I had planned to.
I had a lovely leaving doooo at a chinese restaurant, mmmm chinese, and then to a pub for drinks. It wasn’t a late one as I had an early shift the next day but it was really nice to have all the team come together and to see everyone in a less stressful environment, all dolled up having a great time. I got given LOADS of prezzies, including a doctors kit and many goodies like in flight wipes and a scrap book for me to use on my travels. I really wasn’t expecting them and felt so spoilt! We also had cake, if any of you work in a hospital you’ll know that it was gone in a flash!!I have loved my time working at the hospital and have met some great people, and have learned so much that I can bring to uni and use as a doctor! I don’t think i’ll ever forget both the good and bad times haha.
After I finished work I had a few days to get packed and ready to go to Amsterdam. In my typical style, I decided to use this time going out for lunches with friends instead of packing. It came to the day before we set off and I hadn’t packed, I was still washing clothes and didn’t have important documents like Travel Insurance sorted. That night I stayed up and just worked so hard to get everything done. The next day however, I woke up so tired and fatigued that I was considering staying in bed rather than going to Amsterdam.
Of course I didn’t’ stay in bed because I LOVE going to the airport. It’s so much fun! I love the big open space, the process of checking in (when there isn’t a queue as long as the Great Wall of China), and the whole excitement of things. The flight itself was pretty short, but fun, and British Airways do the best chocolate chip cookies EVER.
Amsterdam is one of the most interesting cities I’ve ever been to. I went with 7 girls and, in line with our stereotype, there was drama. Once we had gotten over that blip I had such a good time. Europe is incredible and this trip has really wet my appetite for travelling. I just LOVE it. I felt so lucky to be able to take in the sights and experiences. My favourite parts no doubt were clubbing in a renovated church called Paridiso. It was AMAZING. I’m not so much of a fan of clubbing because of the drum and bass remixes of songs. haha I sound like a granny! However, Paridiso’s DJ had it spot on; play a song on loud in its entirity right until the end, no remixes. It was incredible and I loved how there were so many rooms all hooked up to the main speakers, so you didn’t like you were missing out going to the loo when your favourite song came on.
Another highlight was going to Anne Frank’s House. This was a truly eye opening experience. I just couldn’t believe how many of them were able to stay in such an enclosed spaced with no light allowed in. I found it quite claustrophobic and I was there for an hour or so, imagine months and months of it! I also loved the Zoo and the Palace and EVERYTHING!! I had the BEST time!
After Amsterdam, I returned to the UK to participate in Race for Life for Cancer Research UK. Now, I admit I’m quite a lazy person who likes relaxing, and running is not my thing in the slightest. So 5km seemed very daunting. I trained erratically for a few weeks and surprised myself when I completed it in under 30 mins. It just goes to show that when you put your mind to something, you really can achieve it!
For the rest of the summer I’ve been spending as much time with family and friends as I can before uni. Here is a few pics of what I got up to:
I’ve taken full advantage of the heatwave the UK has been blessed with and headed to Sandbanks beach with friends! It was a glorious day despite it taking us 4 hrs to get there!
I visited Windsor Castle with my family!
Spent LOTS of time in London, visiting the sights. Particularly after the Royal Baby hysteria!
Spent a day at a Spa for my birthday. It was blissfuly relaxing!
This summer has been so much fun, and I can’t believe I’m soon to be going to medical school. Less than two weeks ARRGGHH!!
I hope this post makes up for lost time! I have lots more to tell you in the next few days, so keep heading back!
Until next time…
I suppose there is a fair amount of filling in for me to do!
So after Oxford, I made a return trip to my friend studying at Cambridge! It was really good fun and I almost felt as if I knew the place and people quite well. We went for a lovely lunch on the first day (my first BBQ of the year), a walk around the college gardens, and on a quick shop for ‘a black vest top’ to wear that evening. I also was able to have another buttery dinner! It was very tasty! Here’s a pic of the gardens, the weather was far better in June than it was last October:
Once we had lined our stomachs, it was time for prinks (pre-drinks – drinking before going to a party or event). Yes, that’s right, we went out clubbing… on a Sunday. Lola’s was closed unfortunately so no chance of bumping into Cauisman, but we went to Life… I think? It was hilariously bad, only 8 people in there max, being the group I was with!
The night took another ‘bad’ turn with the Van of Life not serving food after 12am. We arrived at 12.01. So now we had to find another place to fulfil our junk food cravings!
A Beatles tribute finished the night off nicely:
The next morning we woke, got dressed and went on a nice walk towards Grantchester. Much to the surprise of my friends I expect, I really like being in the countryside. I dislike the bugs and flies that come with it, but I find it scenic and somewhat relaxing. The weather was glorious, however, we needed to get back home for dinner with another friend! I know, such a full diary!
A quick recap of my trip but it marks the end of the uni tour 2k12/13! A great uni to end with at that!
Until next time…
P.S. Bare with the blog aesthetics, I’m thinking it’s time for change!
The next leg of the uni tour was Oxford! Trinity College to be precise to visit a friend studying history.
I went with a friend from school who hosted Sainties 2k13 and we hopped onto a train to Oxford! After a leisurely stroll through the town (the friend we were visiting thought we were lost) we arrived at Trinity and the food fest started; doughnuts, pretzels and crisps! It became clear that food was going to be the theme for the day as we soon headed for a lovely pub lunch!
The weather had a mind of it’s own. We were walking back to Trinity and all of sudden it rained, and when I say it rained, I mean it rained. I couldn’t open my eyes or see since the droplets were so large, we started running. I think we must have looked quite comical since a tourist took pictures of us! I literally felt like I had been in a shower and could wring the water from my clothes. Wet jeans are horrendous. Once we had dried off, we went on a tour of the college (you can see how fickle the weather is in these pics) – it’s so pretty but why can’t you walk on the grass?!
We then met some of my friend’s college friends and had a great chat. They were very funny (as in amusing) and really nice, but soon it was time for more food! NANDOS was calling mmmm. Please please, if you haven’t been to Nandos, go! After a little break we went to an A-MAY-ZIIING ice cream shop called G and D’s and feasted on a waffle with ice cream, cream, chocolate sauce and sprinkles on – it looked similar to this:
As if that wasn’t enough we then went to a lovely wood panelled pub and had a chat. It was such a lovely day and I didn’t really want to go home but I had work the next day so had to 😦 It was getting late so I thought I’d check train times home, only to find after refreshing the screen that the last train home was in 14 minutes. At this point we realised there was no way in history that we were going to make it to the station but we decided to run down the streets of Oxford anyway! We ended up jumping into a taxi and getting to the platform as the train was pulling in, phew!
This was SUCH a great day and I really enjoyed it. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much, nor eaten so much in a while! A much needed break/distraction away from the emergencies we’ve had on the ward lately.
Until next time…