Second Year Gets Better

Once you are over the honeymoon stage of your degree - those wonderful first few weeks where you cannot wait to read your textbooks and read up on everything - the degree marriage life becomes real. Three years feels like an awful long time whilst disappearing in a flash, and quite honestly, I feel like I have been ripped off a bit. If you love every second of your degree life, probably do not keep reading, this could turn out to be a bit negative.

I never wanted to go to university. I have always been of the mindset that I want to work, earn my own money, buy a house and live my life. University felt like far too much of a commitment that would get in the way of things I loved. I decided that I wanted to go when I was set on becoming a physiotherapist. I had gone to open days and sat in talks, which is where I heard about the Paramedic Science degree. Since I was small, I wanted to be a paramedic (as my parents were in the police doing 'exciting' jobs, combined with my love of science) and I still do! I was not aware of being able to train on the job, and I had already applied to university when the closing date for the apprenticeship role came around in my area, and not wanting to push my life back another year I jumped at the paramedic option where I could live at home and continue with my own life (work, friends, family and hobbies).

Within my first term I realised that I was not the same as everyone else. Physically, I was a year older, but mentally I was a different generation. The people I became surrounded with were sleeping around, finding it funny throwing up after alcohol intoxication and going out every night and coming into exams still drunk. I, on the other hand, wanted to work, save money to buy my house and live my fairy-tale life. Obviously I could do this but it came with sacrifices because most people on my course lived at uni and the others who lived at home were ages away. Everyone told me that university would be where I meet my 'forever friends' and quite honestly I feel cheated.

After my first term, I wanted to drop out after group work which made me feel incapable and an outsider. Constant conflict really put me down whilst I tried so hard to get the best grades, whilst having to work with people mentioned above who openly 'just wanted to pass'. I made it past this and brought my grade up with an individual assignment. The next hurdle was being placed 90 minutes from home and feeling like placement was impossible, especially after a supposedly supportive lecturer told me to 'stop complaining' even though it was down right rubbish. I made it past here too. I submitted essays and completed OSCEs and came out with a good grade because I worked hard, not because I was lucky (like other students say).

This made me quite excited for second year. New skills, new knowledge, same people. Things do not change, you just get better. In one of my first weeks of second year I plucked up the confidence to take a punt at an answer asked in paramedic labs and my lecturer told me it was a great answer. Similarly, I attended an man vs train scenario (in labs) with a friend and the lecturer told me we did the best job he had seen for the whole day. Year two was where I learnt that I do belong on my degree. I needed that confidence boost to send me in the right direction through second year.

So although I do feel cheated because I have not met a huge bunch of friends who I go on breakfast dates with and sometimes (like today) people will make you feel stupid during a clinical decision making moment in a scenario, it is okay because it is not about them, it is about me. It is about my 80% in my essay because I spent a month writing it, proof reading it, editing it. It is about my first canulation on the road that went surprisingly well on the road and my mentor telling me how proud he was of me. It is the moments at university that you look back at and make you smile, give you butterflies or a tear in your eye.

I want to finish this nicely. It will get better if you do not feel like you have made 'proper' friends or if you feel like you are not doing as well as everyone else. What I have learnt is that people are full of rubbish and there is no point in listening to what they say unless it is going to help you. I have met some lovely people at university and maybe they will stay in my life, and that will be great. If they do not, that is fine as I will meet a whole new load of people when, in 18 months, I step into MY ambulance station for the first time and meet all my future crew mates. And that is what makes all the stress, frustration and downright upset worth it.

*Just to clarify, this was written on a grumpy day and I am thankful for a lot of people I have met on my paramedic journey, inside uni and out*

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