When I was finishing high school I never dreamed my life would pan out how it has - and I certainly never had any ambition or calling to become a nurse as many of my peers did
I originally wanted to study law but after failing to achieve the GCSE results I had hoped for I found myself studying Health and Social Care at the local college. It was through that course and work experience that I found myself working in the care sector.
I soon discovered I much preferred being at work earning money than going to college so I completed my NVQ level 2 and 3 in Health and Social Care as part of a modern apprenticeship programme. It was during this time that I switched from working in a nursing home to with adults with a learning disability.
”I found myself wanting more. When I`m not studying I miss it. I crave further knowledge”
Fast-forward six years, 2 NVQs and a foundation degree in Health Studies where I found myself wanting more. When I`m not studying I miss it. I crave further knowledge. So I applied for five universities to study learning disability nursing and was accepted to three, University of Chester being one. Prior to being invited for interview I didn’t even know where Chester was - I only knew it was the location of Hollyoaks.
“I quit my stable and secure full-time job, handed back the keys to the two-bedroom flat I rented and moved 270 miles across the country”
So in the summer of 2013, at the age of 25, I accepted my place on the course. I quit my stable and secure full-time job, handed back the keys to the two-bedroom flat I rented and moved 270 miles across the country from Norfolk to Chester where I moved into the smallest bedroom in a five-bedroom shared house.
During my first week in Chester I continually questioned if I had done the right thing and wondered whether I should pack my belongings back into the boxes and move back to Norfolk. I didn’t though - and I am so glad.
I’m not going to lie - moving away from my family and lifelong friends has been hard. Missing birthdays and family gatherings, sharing a bathroom with four other girls and having arguments with people over insignificant things such as whose turn it is to buy toilet roll and washing up liquid is draining.
“I have had several moments of doubt throughout the course but with support from friends, family and university lecturers I am so close to making it”
However, I have gained so much from the move. I have made new and wonderful friends that have supported me through tough times, such as meltdowns when I have left completing assignments to four days before the submission deadline.
I have juggled a part-time job with assignments, placement, being a Student Quality Ambassador and trying to have a social life. I have had several moments of doubt throughout the course but with support from friends, family and university lecturers I am so close to making it. I believe packing up my life and moving across England is one of the best things I could have done. I have fallen in love with the area that much that come the summer of 2016 I will be staying.
If I could give the 2013 version of me one piece of advice it would be to just hang on in there as it will all be worth it in the end.
Samantha Willis is a third-year student studying learning disability nursing.