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…