During the whole university process, I felt surprisingly calm that I was moving to Southampton to go to university and moving away from home. I was sure that this is what I wanted.
As the time to begin university approached, I began to feel really anxious about the amount of changes this meant for me. It became particularly worrying as I thought about getting used to a new PA/carer and the new morning carer.
I would have to trust them completely with my care needs. I was going to have to trust strangers with such personal care. I had always had my parents with me before, all my life they had helped me, I was used to them, but I began to realise that they wouldn’t be around that often anymore and I would have to trust the new carers to help me.
I would have to do get to know these people pretty quickly, I needed to trust them to be kind and look after my personal needs. I also wanted to have fun with them, to feel confident enough in them supporting me in and out university.
I was apprehensive about moving into halls of residence, as I find it difficult to make new friends and adjust to new situations. I felt that it was going to be difficult getting to know and living with a new group of people in close proximity for a year.
My biggest fear of living in halls with a group of people, is the way they will treat me when they learn that I’m a wheelchair user and seeing that – rather than getting to know me personally; the person in the wheelchair.
I also worried about leaving my friends and family behind in Birmingham, I knew we wouldn’t get to see each other much and I worried that my friendships would weaken while I’d be away. You know what they say – out of sight, out of mind.
University was a very important decision for me and I had worked very hard to get to this point and although I was nervous and had my doubts about living away I knew I wanted to go to Southampton Solent University to study my chosen course.
I felt that this course would help me gain the necessary experience and help me decide what I wanted to do after I graduated. I also knew that I wanted to experience uni life and all that it offered; the independence and probably most important of all freshers fortnight. I know I wouldn’t be able to experience it to its full extent if I didn’t live in halls of residence or an accommodation nearby.
was due to start University in September with welcome week on Monday 22nd of September 2014. We decided to move my belongings down to Southampton and into the halls of residence on the Thursday before, as this gave me time to settle in and get to know people before classes started on the Monday.
Prior to moving into my halls of residence I had been added to a Facebook group, this meant all the students could get to know each other prior to us moving in together.
Its aim was to decrease some of the worry that students may have felt in moving into the halls and going to university. Through the Facebook page, I managed to locate and to get to know some people who lived on my floor in my halls of residence, two of the people I got to know coincidently was studying the same course as me, so when I went into my first class I recognised those familiar faces.
Before I moved into halls I requested a ceiling hoist in both my bathroom and bedroom to help me around my room and bathroom. I also requested an electronic bed, which I could use to elevate myself to increase the level of comfort that I felt both in the day and at night. Along with this I requested a large computer desk in which I could place my computer on as well as have space to do things around it.
Lastly I had an electronic door fitted in place of the wooden door, so I would be able to enter and leave my room at will, feeling reassured that when I left my room I could lock the door electronically so all my possessions were safe, and when I was in the room on my own I could feel safe and secure and able to have my own space.
Arriving at the halls was nerve wracking; I had to try to be confident, even though I wasn’t sure that it what I really felt. I had packed lots of stuff and it took a while to unload it all from the car.
My room was large. The wardrobe was tiny. It didn’t have a door, just a curtain to cover it, not the most attractive site. The room was en suite which was good, but again only a curtain to separate the bedroom and the bathroom, I wasn’t sure about that!
I was worried it wouldn’t provide me with the privacy I needed. What happened if I needed the loo, and a friend was in my room?
Once we unpacked and put everything away I took a look around my new room. It didn’t look or feel friendly like my room at home. Next we started to see what we could do to make it feel more homely, I started to put photos on a pin board and posters on the walls.
I had brought with me some of my favorite items and put those on the shelves. As an icebreaker my parents and I baked a cake so my flat mates could share it with me, we put in the kitchen for everyone to share. It was a good idea, it was soon eaten!