Fear vs Curiosity!

Everyone’s university experience is very different and unique. People always say that it is entirely different to high school, with more challenges, more independence, more opportunities to socialise and explore. I was told not to let my wheels lessen any of these wonderful experiences. People told me that I would have so much fun and to make the most of it. That is exactly what I did.

As you may know, I studied Business and Management at Brunel University. A month or two before starting, I visited the university. As I arrived, I was welcomed by my disability advisor who took me on an extensive tour around the campus. I was most intrigued by the odd names given to the campus sites; Bannerman centre, Heinz Wolff. I mean what type of names are they, right! It was as if I was going through some sort of fictional Hogwarts school. I was introduced to a wheelchair user student who was staying on campus. She showed us around her halls and the facilities available if I chose to stay. I was amazed by the adaptations the university was able to provide. This visit encouraged me to considers living on-site, so I sent out a request to my advisor, expressing my interest. Even with my shy yet stubborn personality, he saw my enthusiasm and agreed to help me. In preparation for my stay on campus, he began adjusting my room. I made him aware of my bed preferences and he allowed me to pick out the one I wanted. There was actually one I had in mind. It was expensive and thought it wouldn’t be possible, but I asked him anyway. To my surprise, he responded with that’s fine and he had purchased the bed for me. I am deeply grateful to the university for all the support and funding they were prepared to provide, even before starting my degree.

The idea of experiencing a different type of independence was exciting and I was looking forward to it. But, there was still one hurdle to jump over for this to become a reality. Due to my condition, I needed Brent service to fund the 24 hours care necessary for me to stay, but it was not approved. I was heartbroken! I missed out on events that took place at the university because I had to commute from home instead. However, on the plus side, Brent adapted my surroundings to aid my independent commute. On the joystick of my wheelchair, there were various buttons that I would press. It would open and close doors around my house, allowing easy access in and out. Before university, I didn’t use my electric wheelchair as much, but, later realised the increased independence it opened up for me. The facilities at Brunel also gave me a chance to use my new wheels around campus. At first, I was not a good driver. I kept crashing and bumping into things! Don’t worry, Brunel is still standing strong, all in one piece! It gave me that freedom that I was longing for and I really enjoyed it. It’s extraordinary how technology was advancing for all these facilities to come about, allowing me to experience this level of independence.

The first day of university was nerve-racking. Wanting to make a good first impression, I made sure I dressed up smart and put on light make up. Feelings of excitement combined with not knowing what to expect built on that nervousness. It was my first day to fully experience what it was going to feel like to travel independently. The commute was long and boring but as I arrived, seeing a familiar face was comforting. My disability advisor approached me and saw that I was inexperienced in driving my wheels, so asked me to wait near the entrance. He came back with a support coordinator who was going to ensure that my needs were met throughout the years. My support coordinator introduced me to a student who was going to be my note-taker and assist me around the university. She was a second-year student studying Psychology and as we were talking I realised that we had a lot in common. It was lovely getting to know someone new. Within the first few days, I familiarised myself with different routes and became much better at using my wheelchair. We were encouraged to meet all our classmates and have bonding sessions with them through team activities. It was interesting to be surrounded by so many different people. I got to know people from my tutor group and they become good friends of mine. My note-taker would meet me at the library or at lectures or any place we’d arrange and assist me where needed. She also introduced me to many of her friends, which was nice.

Having this support along with the independence felt so new to me because I didn’t have that before. Independent travelling, moving around campus alone and using the facilities on my own was so fascinating. Looking back at it now, there were a lot of facilities that I didn’t use, but if I had, my experience could have been much better. Though I don’t regret it, because I still had an awesome experience.

University may be daunting at first, but replace your fear with curiosity as you meet new people from different walks of life. Let every day’s challenge be a new adventure.

3 thoughts on “Fear vs Curiosity!

  1. You brought back so many memories! It was fun to hang out with you. You always had a witty comment to make and always made me laugh with your sense of humour. Getting to know you changed my life in so many ways. I am and forever will be grateful to have you in my life ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the title! really sums up your experience and the emotions you went through. It’s amazing to see how much you went through and still pushed yourself to not give up. That last line really resonates with me, “see every day as an adventure” 🙌😊❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It was nice to read that despite finding your time at university obviously very challenging, you really enjoyed the experience.
    I never went to uni so cannot compare personally, but my son went and he had a great time and made many new friends.

    Liked by 1 person

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