Where did the year go? My first year and what I learnt…

#HelloMyNameIsChlӧe and I’m about to be a second-year student nurse which has me wondering how first year went so quickly!! Recently I have been reflecting on my first year and thinking about all the things I have learnt and what I will do differently in my second year. First year has been a big learning curve and I’m so close to the beginning of a new academic year that I thought I would take the time to have a chat about my first year as a STN and the main things I learnt.

First day, first seminar – my nerves were running high, but I was excited to be starting a new chapter. I remember finding it very overwhelming walking into a room where I didn’t know anyone, but one thing I can guarantee is that if you’re feeling nervous then a few other people will be too. Just remember, nerves are normal. I went and sat down next to a couple of people and I said “Hello”. One of the best things I learnt is to go up to new people and say “Hello”. I can sometimes feel quite shy around new people, and uni is full of them, but once I realised that we’re all in the same boat it suddenly didn’t seem so scary. This is something I tried to keep in mind throughout my year when going to societies, but I’m glad I said hello to the people in my first seminar because I’m still friends with them now.
The Sim Suite was one of the aspects of the university I love, and I can’t wait to see what the new building has in store, but in all honestly the dummies still scare me slightly even to this day. I’m not too sure what it is but nevertheless it’s such an amazing and supportive environment to practise and gain confidence in your basic skills. Admittedly what I found a bit more nerve wracking was our first session with actors. To give you a run down, you are given scenarios and a background of your patient, who is played by the actor, and it’s another chance to put your skills to use. One scenario I remember quite well was a 30 year old actor playing the role of a child who had a form of autism, which challenged my use of effective communication. It can feel a bit silly at first having to act along with scenarios or talk to a dummy for the first time, I felt a bit silly, but I learnt to just get involved and take the chance to ask questions so I could put my skills in to practice. Throughout this year I have noticed that my confidence in practice has grown and the Sim Suite is a great place to start developing this confidence and basic skill set!!
Exams and assignments were something I was dreading about university, and still do. I would be so happy when I finally understood one concept in Physical Health Sciences but then something would always come along to somehow make me confused again. Every time I would feel like I was back at square one. I will never forget the time that a lecturer spent about 15 minutes in a seminar trying to explain a Physical Health Sciences concept to me and I just couldn’t understand it; I did feel quite embarrassed. I went back to my room after, took a break and sat down, then eventually had my eureka moment where it felt like the world came together and it all made sense. I can sometimes feel like I go one step forward and three steps back, but I have learnt (and am still learning) to pick myself up and keep going.
Some of my friends have come from societies and others I have stayed in touch with from before uni, but I have learnt throughout this past year that friends are invaluable. For the days when things got tough and I felt like not even a hot chocolate was going to help, my friends were there and gave me the encouragement or just a listening ear to keep me going. The support that tutors and the people around you offer is so valuable and it really is important to have a small support network around you for the days when things get a bit tough.
This past year has been one big learning curve: living away from home, meeting new people, placement is complete and I have also learnt that my Starbucks before almost every lecture has helped to keep me sane and awake, so I guess I owe them a thank you!! While I am a mix of both excited and nervous for this next year, I have learnt a great deal and enjoyed this first year of university so much and can’t wait to see what the next year has in store!

Author: Chloe Thomas, Year 2 Student

Disclaimer: This blog contains personal opinions of students only and does not necessarily represent the views of the Children’s Nursing team, School of Health Sciences or the University of Surrey.

If you’re interested in writing a blog post for us – whether it’s a one-off about something in Nursing you’re passionate on, or as a regular contributor, please email Tia Dolphin (td00227@surrey.ac.uk) – we’d love to hear from you!