Coming through the Access course helped me achieve my goals

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There has been this question I have kept asking myself lately and that is “Would I do first year all over again?” If I’m honest my answer is still undecided. One part of my mind is wishing I  could do it all over again, to maybe work that bit harder, to read the required readings for law (I’ll put my hands up and say guilty as charged because I never read those readings). The other half of my mind is telling me no, that I tried my best and that I could do no more. I put in the effort to get any assignments or essays in on time, sometimes a week before they were even due. I wasn’t a model student, but I did work hard for my place in college all thanks to the NUI Galway Access Course. 

Reflecting back on something one of my head lecturers stated to us on the first day of Access has and will forever stick with me: “If you can’t make the effort to attend this Access Course for yourself then make the effort for the person who’s place you took”.  

The Access Course had a limited number of students and a large number of people were turned down just so myself and 40 others or so could be there that day and I knew one thing for sure, I would never think twice about wasting my precious place. My goal was to become an actual registered student of NUI Galway and nothing would have stopped me from fulfilling that goal. 

The first day of First Year in general is something I will never forget. Even though I came through Access and had gained the knowledge and experience of the way NUI Galway worked, I was still anxious as hell and part of the anxiety was focused on whether my picture on my student card turned out nice or not.  

It dawned on me that I wasn’t going to be in those small classrooms in the Arts Millenium Building anymore, I wasn’t going to feel that familiar sense of ease when talking to my tutors about upcoming assignments and I wasn’t going to be seated beside a friend or a familiar face anymore. However, that feeling of realisation dawning on me was the best feeling ever. I would get to meet new people and make a whole new group of friends. I was going to work hard in my subjects and I would join societies and take part in volunteering events and that is exactly what I did. 

I forced myself outside my comfort zone and let my guard drop. Little by little I felt my anxiety starting to disappear. I had taken part in the NUI Galway’s Teddy Bear Hospital in Bailey Allen Hall, a volunteering event which taught kids that hospitals and doctors aren’t all that scary. My friend Vicky and I did nothing but smile and help the kids to get their sick teddy bears all better again.  

Apart from volunteering and taking part in events, there was a more humorous side to my first year experience – well, humorous or awkward as hell when one of your good mates comes up to you and introduces you to another guy and this particular guy is indeed your ex, or when you are in the middle of a quiet lecture scrolling through your phone and one of those videos on Instagram plays at a loud volume and all you can hear is SpongeBob SquarePants talking about Krabby Patties! 

College really isn’t all that scary. Try and have as much fun as you can. It’s all part of the student life. Despite only being in First Year I really don’t want this student life to end even though I was anxious about it starting. 

By Rachel Garvey

Photo credit LWYang via Flickr

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