Disability, My Life, Student Life

A Big Decision

Approaching the end of my gap year, I had a big decision to make.

The gap year allowed me to reflect on all what had happened at Southampton Solent University (and actually was a positive thing for me to do), as I was able to think more clearly about each aspect of my year at university.

I was able to reconise what the initial problems were – and what the root cause of it was. I was able to think about what I wanted to do.

During the gap year itself, I busied myself fundraising and publishing material for Birmingham PHAB Camps, in which I had managed to raise money for the charity together with increasing awareness and acquiring possible further sponsorship.

As well as helping Birmingham PHAB Camps I was able to plan and begin to write. ‘Name & Shame’ was an article based on disability access around Harborne, my local high street, in which I had been trying to do for a while and I hadn’t had chance until now. My aim was to try and increase awareness of disabilities as well as the importance of disability access, in the hope and trying to influence shop owners to make necessary changes. Meanwhile, I have been able to get back to my personal writing.

I have been writing a few short pieces in the hope to build up a small portfolio for me to showcase and for people to read. Out of all the pieces I was writing, I was especially proud of being able to compile various notes to construct my first novel ‘Middle Earth’. I am currently working on this and hope to finish soon.

In amongst this and on a much more serious side, I searched for possible volunteering or work experience opportunities. I was able to do this through social media sites such as LinkedIn. I felt this would benefit me and give me the options other than going back to university.

This then led me back to me making the decision of what should I do for the next academic year. I could continue looking for volunteering opportunities, but there be no guarantee that I would find a suitable one any time soon.

My other option was going back to university. I knew I wanted to go back, but I wanted to make sure that, if I went back things would be different, to be sure that we wouldn’t have a repeat of what happened in Southampton.

I thought long and hard about this and made the decision to try university again. I felt this would give me the best chance of gaining employment in the future.

Then while I was studying, I could look for jobs and gain experience while gaining my degree.

Making the decision to go back to university was a big one. I had to stop dwelling on Southampton Solent and concentrate on my new path.

I plan to try and learn from my experiences and embrace them in order to make this university experience easier and more enjoyable.

All the time, thinking about what I can do to avoid or control the anxieties I feel about returning to university.

So, I sat down and made a note of the problems faced in my first year at university. The PA/Carer, social environments, living away from home, independence and life in the classroom.


After everything that happened with both PA/Carer’s has to be different this time to avoid any unnecessary worries on my behalf and allow me to feel more comfortable. With this in mind I began to think about what a PA/Carer needs to be like.

A PA/Carer needs to have a range of different traits such as being kind and caring with a good sense of humor.

They need to be more open minded and light hearted, whilst still being sympathetic and encouraging, but remember to not be too emotionally attached.

There are many responsibilities for a PA/Carer in regards to their job role. As well as assisting me physically, it’s about encouraging me mentally particularly in the classroom situation I need the PA to be an effective note taker in my lectures and seminars to help me get the most out of them.

The PA/Carer needs to be able to work at my level to be my study assistant and enable me to complete my coursework in order for me to get the most out my studies.


Although I will be nervous when I go to university, I have to remember to not be afraid to meet others. It’s really important that I don’t stay cooped up in my room, I need to go out and have fun.

University experiences are new and exciting and one of the best times of life and I should embrace all the opportunities offered. I need to socialise and make friends; I need to take part in all sorts of events so I can meet different groups of people.

I need to try new things that scare me and put me outside my comfort zone. I need to go out more often be able to throw my self into more of the social groups.

I want to build upon friendships and memories for a lifetime. This is my second chance so I shouldn’t not waste it.


Living away from home and away from my parents taught me independence. Though Southampton Solent University was too far away, I did feel accomplishment in living away from home in the first place. It allowed me to have more confidence in myself.

The experience made me believe I could live independently and look after myself. It felt good that the things I needed to depend on my parents for, I could now do for myself.

I am able to approach situations differently, even if it’s at home. I’m able to stand on my own two feet even if it was only a little bit.


At a school and college level I enjoyed studying media and was looking forward to studying at university level. However what I didn’t realise was university was different and more difficult. Unlike school and college, university doesn’t give us much help.

I always knew that I had limitations due to my disability and certain elements of the course may be more difficult.

As I was able to overcome them at college due to the amount of assistance I overlooked it.

I underestimated the lack of help you get at university and therefore some of the practical challenges I faced.

Though I tried my very hardest to overcome the challenges in different ways, I had to finally accept that some changes are too difficult for me to resolve and overcome. In doing this, it’s not giving up, it’s changing direction and focusing your talents elsewhere.

Occupied with the amount of difficulties I had on the Media Culture and Production course, I decided to change my pathway in life and study Creative Writing.

It was already a passion of mine, but I hadn’t previously considered pursuing it academically until now.

I undertook a 12-week college course in Creative Writing to see if it was something I really wanted to do.

The course helped me build skills and confidence in my writing and gave me the opportunity to showcase my work and add more pieces of writing to my portfolio.

Realising that this was a great opportunity, I became extremely excited about this change of pathway…


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