The burning questions I can now answer…

#hellomynameis Aliya, I’m a first year child nursing student. In this blog I will be answering the burning questions and worries I had before starting my first year of my Children’s Nursing degree

When people say your first term at university will fly by, I now understand what they mean. I spent my whole year previous to starting uni on a gap year, working on a makeup counter to save money and dreaming about the day I could leave and finally start my journey to become a children’s nurse. As much as I could not wait to start, there were certain aspects of the course and university life that worried me, and I could not find the answers online (despite constant google searches before I started!). Now having completed my first term at university, those big things that played havoc on my mind have now resolved themselves and I am settled in. I really appreciate that these things seem so huge before you start nursing, and now as a student helper for applicant interview days I thought I would combine some of my worries and questions I have picked up from prospective students and try to answer these here.

Number 1: ‘Do I have to love science and take biology to do well on the course?’.
The amount of times I was encouraged to do A-level Biology following on from GCSE was ridiculous. ‘Well, if you want to do nursing, you really ought to do biology, as it will be so useful on the degree!’. And yes, I get where they were coming from, but on the other hand I really did not feel that learning about photosynthesis in plants would really help me out all that much in nursing (plus I wanted to do what really interested me, so I chose to do Art, Psychology and Health and Social Care instead). Having now completed a term of our anatomy and physiology module, I can safely say: no, you really do not need an A level in biology to take this course. Nor do you need to be in love with science (amazing if you are!), but there are so many different aspects to the course that anatomy and physiology actually only really make up a small portion of the degree.

Number 2: ‘Settling in is going to be so tricky, especially because nursing is quite different to other courses’.
Yes, it’s different- but in an absolutely fabulous way! I called my mum pretty much every single night once I started uni, and that’s completely okay. It helped me to cope, vent and settle in with all that was going on around me. It’s nice to have a chat with someone familiar, and just provided a bit of normality with all the new things. None of my flatmates do anything remotely healthcare based, but it was actually really nice to have a bit of a balance and be surrounded by people that could take your mind off your course for a bit. That’s one thing I love about Surrey, everybody is so welcoming and you can find an answer for literally anything you need- and just remember that everyone is in the same boat, so have a laugh and discover things together!

Number 3: ‘The work life balance is ridiculous, I will get no free time’.
This is definitely something that worried me a lot. All I had read online is how hideously intense nursing is, it’s really hard, no time for going out or socialising, you’re basically in isolation with no friends and no fun… and this could not be further from the truth! I did freshers week exactly like everybody else, went out most weekends and met up with new friends along with doing my degree work just fine. The nice thing about our course is that you are in two or three days a week, and don’t start placement till May-time. This means that you can actually have a work-life balance. As long as you keep on top of your work, you can go out and socialise just the same as everybody else. I have friends on my course who still like to go out every weekend and that’s completely fine! Having more time before you go on placement too means you can actually establish a friend group and learn to juggle your new life and university without feeling overly exhausted or overwhelmed. Just remember it is completely normal to spend weeks trying to work out your new work life balance, and that’s fine. Everybody does it.

Number 4: ‘What if I don’t understand something or need support?’.
Two words: group chats. Make one, get added, whatever you have to do, because you build up such a support network and friendly community amongst your fellow course mates that you can ask the simplest of questions and help each other out. Sometimes tiny questions like ‘where’s the room are we in after this??’ Is something that isn’t really worth an entire email to a tutor, so that’s where group chats can come in handy. On top of this, when I started uni I was inundated with links of support and people from the uni to contact if I had ANY issues whatsoever, so from a teacher- student point of view I cannot stress how reassuring this was.

Number 5: ‘How much will I miss home?’
This obviously brings up different emotions for everybody, but what I felt comforted me was that I was surrounded by others who were in the same position, on my course or not. I am about an hour by car from home, however I know again this is different for everyone. I came to find that for me, the longer I was at university, the more I became comfortable with the independence. Once everything became more familiar I felt less need to cling to home. And like I said, calling home really helped. Of course I still miss and love going home, but taking the time to appreciate that it’s completely normal to want to go home all the time (or not!) is absolutely fine and a necessary emotional process of leaving home.

I do hope this has provided some answers for anyone feeling a little nervous about starting nursing at University of Surrey. It’s the most amazing degree ever, I have enjoyed myself so much and couldn’t be happier. And just remember, it is completely okay to acknowledge any feelings of worry or anxiety and reflect on them- an important skill you’ll come to find starting your nursing degree! Good luck. Aliya x

Author: Aliya Stratford, Year 1 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.

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