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Where to go from here...

17 January 2012


I have had interviews at 3 universities so far. I have 1 offer already and I am feeling optimistic that all of them will make me offers.

So where do I go from here?

Until yesterday, Plymouth was my favourite choice. Great university, great city and beautiful countryside around. What more could I wish for in a new start? But as I was at the recruitment day, it began to dawn on me that Plymouth would also mean that I would be completely on my own. The area they cover for my practice placements is huge. Some placements can be a 3 hour drive away. So in order to make life easier, they asked us to choose a preferred area of practice and then all the practice placements in the next 3 years would be in that area.

This threw me. I had assumed I would move to Plymouth city and drive to my placements. However, they were suggesting that for some people it might be better to live near the area of their placements and commute to university on lecture days.

This would mean for me that I could end up being cut off from most of the university life, the student support, the nights out, the new friends I might make. As the practice placements are only up to 8 weeks, I would not be making firm new friends with the people I would be working with. In effect, I would be very much alone.

Most of the other candidates are 'local', that is to say, from Plymouth or from one of the neighbouring counties where the placements would be. This means they could live in Plymouth and, if they choose their home area as place of practice, live with friends or family when they are doing their practice. This is not an option for me.

They can not tell me where my practice area will be until after I have accepted my place at the University. Obviously I listed Plymouth as my first preference but there is no guarantee I will get that.

Is living near the sea so important that I would take the risk of loneliness and missing out on feeing immersed and included? I feel the answer might be No. I need friends around me. I need support. I need to feel study support is at the tip of my fingers when I need it.

Furthermore, hearing how all the other students were talking about discussing their options with their friends, partners or family made me feel very alone. I know I have friends. They will give me advice. And that is gratefully accepted. But I don't have someone to help me sort things out. Someone who will call the Student Loans people for me. Someone who will sit down with me at the kitchen table with pieces of paper and say: "Right, let's bash this out. This is your budget, this is what you need to do, do you need to sell the house, if so you need to do xyz..."

If I go to Coventry University, I would still not have someone like that. But at least I would still have my friends reasonably near by. I would move to Coventry but most of my friends would still be within an hour's driving away. Plymouth is at least 6 hours from anyone I know.

This is an unexpected development for me. I had not anticipated that this would be a problem. I guess seeing these other students with so many options and still have their friends, family and partners standing behind them like a safety net really brought it home that I am alone.

Loneliness is a different thing to being alone. When I am lonely, I know my friends will be there for me. But in the end, in my life, in this country, right now, I am very much alone.

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