When I chose Southampton I knew I’d have to be more confident and independent in many ways.
This included living away from home, dealing with bills and my own cooking and cleaning, I also had to debate whether I had enough confidence to catch the train on my own to travel backwards and forwards from home to university.
Having not done it before I was very nervous of the idea about getting on the train and travelling for three hours on my own, I knew this would be the main way of getting home regularly as my parents wouldn’t be able to drive to collect me all the time.
At first I was anxious, on edge and worried that somebody may have forgotten where I was getting off or nobody was going to be on the platform to help me on and off the train.
I wanted someone to be there ready and waiting for me in the beginning to help ease my journey and nerves, I would count down the stops until I knew it was my turn to get off.
To ease my anxieties we scheduled a disability travel assistant who we had to book at least 24 hours ahead of travel time.
They helped me on and off the train at both stations using a ramp. They would also help me with my bags and whatever else I needed.
The other passengers on the train also helped reassure me, there was always someone friendly enough to make sure I didn’t miss my stop, this is something I really appreciated.
Most of the time there were no problems being assisted on the trains, it was a really efficient system but occasionally there were obstacles such as assistants not being available in a timely manner, which did make me nervous!
Often I found, once on the train there would be luggage stored in the designated wheelchair space.
This meant my mom would have to physically move the luggage; this caused us to be flustered without saying a proper goodbye to each other as it all had to be rushed. I found this very inconsiderate and irritating.
It also meant I wasn’t very comfortable in the area as it was packed with other peoples stuff and not much room for me.
After a while, the more journeys I took by myself, I became more relaxed, I knew what to expect and what to do.
I started to enjoy the ride and peace of listening to music, playing on my tablet, writing stories or on social media.
Although it was tough in the beginning and when my journey was disturbed I found that catching trains increased my independence and confidence.
I am a more outgoing and adventurous person because of it. I am already trying to persuade my mom to let us or me go on train again soon.