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Disabled student diaries 2009

Ouch! Special Report
Disabled student diaries 2009

Charlotte's diary (disabled student diaries 2009)

by Charlotte

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Lives: Oldham, Lancashire
Going to: Lancaster University
To study: Film and cultural studies
Why this course: Enjoyed A level film studies, and wanted a more theoretical course.
Disability: Cerebral palsy means that Charlotte is quadraplegic. She uses an electric wheelchair.
Access needs: For lecture she will have note takers and for exams she will be able to work with a scribe in a separate room and extra time to finish the questions.
Interests: Charlotte is passionate about film, cinema and media and is keen to get involved with student radio.
Hopes for first term: To get the best grades possible, become more confident and outgoing. Charlotte wants to disprove people's preconceptions about her disability and to have her chance to enjoy teen life.

Week 1

Saturday 26th September, 2009

Today I moved into a flat with four other students, as well as one of my new carers who will live with me on site. The flat is not catered for so we have to do our own cooking. Two of my new carers will live in the flat next to mine. I felt really nervous at the prospect of what lay ahead. All the excitement I had previously felt had gone, given the responsibilities I was about to face, living away from home.

The only small consolation, was that everyone would be in the same boat, or so I thought, but even at this early stage most people seemed to be gelling better than me. This has been made worse by the fact I had only just met two of my three new carers. Despite my mum staying around in a accommodation next to my flat for the first two weeks to help train them they are still going to be heavily reliant on my advice and instruction whilst I get used to my new surroundings at the same time. I find this extremely scary. I am starting to wonder if I am really cut out for uni.

Sunday 27th September, 2009

This morning was enrolment time. I felt quite tired as I hadn’t slept well, consequently the photo I had taken for my library card during enrolment was a less than flattering one! How some people managed to look glamorous at 9.20 on a Sunday morning I’ll never know. Despite having had a talk on how to be safety conscious that very morning a girl in my flat managed to cause the first fire alarm of the year. We had to evacuate and wait outside in the cold for ages until the fire brigade arrived. I thought it was rather amusing - bet she didn’t!

My third and final carer arrived this evening. She seems rather kooky but in a good way. I decided to go to the “Jungle Party” this evening. I went as a leopard and although I thought I looked quite good my outfit wasn’t as innovative as others. Eg. Some boys covered themselves entirely in leaves to become makeshift trees! I felt the party was good as I bonded with my carers a lot more. However I did become increasingly self conscious as the crowds thickened as I wasn’t sure if I would be in the way. In spite of having a good night I am still in two minds on whether I like it here.
Charlotte dressed as a leopard for the jungle party

Monday 28th September, 2009

Today my carers and I embarked on our first big shopping trip. We each decided that we would choose a meal to cook. My carers, who have travelled from Germany, required lots of basic items so a visit to the supermarket which should have taken one hour took three with the trolley getting forgotten and left behind several times as each person assumed someone else had it! I am also finding it hard and tiring having to control my wheelchair for long periods/distances as I have never had to remain so alert for so long before.

This afternoon I attended a talk regarding my major subject of Film and Cultural Studies. The course sounds more perfect than I could have ever hoped for despite the lecturer overseeing it having the kind of voice that could send even the most vibrant of people to sleep. However I think that when you are passionate enough about something it should take more than that to dampen ones enthusiasm. However this is only one plus against a much larger number of negatives. I know it is still early days but I need to know that if I am going to truly succeed here I must be happy in every aspect of my university life and right now I am not. Yet, when I think about how much time and effort has been undertaken by so many people to get me here and how disappointed so many would be if I left this makes me feel even more guilty to be having such doubts.

Tuesday 29th September, 2009

Today I had to attend some talks on my minor subjects of which I do 2 in the first year. I have picked Sociology as I did this at A level and Gender and Women Studies as I am proud to be a woman and have always been interested in where certain perceptions of women in today’s society come from and how they can be changed. Both subjects sound as equally exciting as my major – so bring on the workload.

The problem of the day was we got the rooms and the times of the talks mixed up and so arrived at the Sociology talk just as it finished. EPIC FAIL! But all was not lost as we had a chat with the course tutor for a few minutes after everyone had gone.

In order to get to know people I ventured into the kitchen in the flat next door along with some of my own flatmates who were having pre -night out drinks. I felt quite left out as everybody was playing drinking games and my mum had instructed my carers not to let me drink too much. Although my carers are keen to please her and do what she says I also think they should have more sympathy towards me and what it’s like to be young and want me to fit in as much as possible. Ok, I may get a massive hangover but I have already had to miss out on so many normal things that teenagers do and this would be yet something else to add to the list. Screw personal safety that’s what I say, well that’s how I feel sometimes! This put a large dampner on my mood until one of my German carers got confused between the pronunciation of the creature “slug” and “slag” a derogatory term for certain women. Very funny.
Charlotte and friends dressed up for a night out

Wednesday 30th September, 2009

At 3.10 this morning I was subjected to an impromptu karaoke session from the flat above me. At first all I could hear was rhythmic beating and I originally thought a couple were having some fun!!!!! As I became more roused from my sleep I managed to make out the strum of a guitar and a group of boys singing Rock classics such as Oasis’ Wonderwall. Surprisingly the main singing was quite tuneful. But it still made me laugh. I also heard the bad effects of drunkenness as I heard a Scottish student yelling outside 'open the effing door'.Oh how proud I am of my heritage!

When it reached a more sensible hour, it was time to enrol on my Minor courses. This didn't take too long. I still don’t feel 100% confident about being here. I feel I am coming here for the degree rather than the social life which is what most people are here for. I don’t want to be seen as an outsider. I feel I have been an outsider for long enough and it’s time for change which is why I decided to get involved with the student radio station ...

I wanted to join that group because it relates to my degree, you get to meet a lot of new people and it’s something I have never tried before. The radio experience will give me a chance to see if it could be a potential career path.

That evening I went to the “open mike night” in our college bar. None of the students performed too well in my opinion. The MC and his band did a few numbers – the guitarist was awesome.

Thursday 31st September, 2009

At 10.20 this morning I received a visit from yet another workman who arrived to do more alterations to my bathroom; it wouldn’t have been quite so awkward if I hadn’t still been in bed! Even though I have only been here 5 days I have already had a multitude of men coming and going – not as good as it sounds as they've all been 50-something year old workmen! DARN! Oh well, maybe that will change if I stick this out.

I enrolled in the clubs and societies today. The ones I liked the best are the afore mentioned Student Radio Station and the Christian Union. The problem of the day was that the hall was swimming with people by the time I got there with my carer so I felt a little daunted and my carer wanted to do everything herself which kind of defeats the object of me becoming independent. I think I need to become much more assertive.

Week 2

Monday 5th October, 2009

Today has been very busy. I had to get up at 6:45 this morning to ensure I made it out to my first lecture on time which started at 9am. I found the day tiring as I had lectures in all of my three subject areas. Thankfully the content was not too hard as they were simply going over what would be covered on my courses.

Tuesday 6th October, 2009

Today I had another women’s studies lecture where we learnt about the history of feminism and different feminist movements that have occurred over the years. I attempted to read a sociology reading online, which had been recommended, but I had no idea it would be so long; it hurt my eyes and I constantly lost my place.
Ladies sign
Luckily, I had a visit from a man (yes another one!) to teach me about the software I could use to make my studying more effective and less strenuous whilst at uni. One of which included a programme that can scan text and read it back. I think this will be helpful because I can just listen to the text and then when a particularly relevant or interesting point is reached that I want to make a note of I can simply ask a carer to highlight that point on a hard copy. Thank goodness for technology.
Mealtimes here are probably not typical of students. Me and the three carers tend to eat together and we try to eat well, though I am itching to try some of the fast food restaurants here on campus as I am partial to the occasional binge!

Wednesday 7th October, 2009

Today was my first ever seminar, it was film and cultural studies. I thoroughly enjoyed it because the group is smaller with about 15 compared to the 230 or so who attended my sociology lecture. Also, the tutor seems really friendly and knowledgeable and she gave us an interesting activity to partake in. We had to look at the packaging for a box of 'Special K' and consider what it might say about current society if it was to be dug up by a future civilisation.

This afternoon marked my first meeting with the music team for Baillrigg. I found this enjoyable as it means that I get to listen to new music releases before most other people. However I find it slightly annoying that record companies seem to think that students are all into indie and/or heavy rock.

I like indie as much as the next person, in fact some of the best music ever written falls into that category. But I just feel that if they want to increase listening figures the music library should reflect the eclectic mix of people here at Lancaster. OK, fair enough if the uni doesn’t have the budget to play more commercial records but nevertheless I think they should try to cater for every kind of student.

Thursday 8th October, 2009

I am not enjoying sociology at the moment. I just feel that the tutor did not explain things very well and looking at the readings we were set for the week there were hundreds of new terms that I do not think he will be able to help me with. So far in the seminars my carers sit directly next to me and I feel this puts me at a bit of a disadvantage especially in group or partner situations as I think other students feel wary about talking to me due to the current set up.

To top it all, my mum has left today, so I am now completely and officially alone in what are still relatively new surroundings. BAD TIMES! I cheered up though when I saw last week's diary on the Ouch! website. I loved the introduction video, too. I think they have done a good job on it.

Friday 9th October, 2009

Today was my first gender and women’s studies seminar. I like it because again the group is very small and select so I have a feeling that we will get to know each other very well. There is even someone from my own hometown, Oldham, within the group. Woo! But I also have a mountain of work to do this weekend, NOT GOOD!

I had a visit from Phil the computer man this afternoon. I spent the afternoon reading a comical passage about how to be a bad business manager. The extract was so long though that I thought it would never end. Interestingly, in the middle of the session I got a call from the folks at Ouch! A reporter from BBC Radio Lancashire was in the area and wanted to do an interview with me about my experiences that would be played out on air.

I accepted without hesitation. The more exposure for the project the better. And a little for yourself doesn’t hurt either. I was worried that my voice wouldn’t pick up well on air, but luckily when I listen back to it, it sounded fine. Oh well, it’s not Key 103, but I suppose everyone has to start somewhere. Besides I wanted to put off the prospect of the slog that lay ahead for as long as possible.

Saturday 10th October, 2009

Reading, reading and more reading. That’s what my day consisted of. Well, that and the fact that I didn’t get up until 12:30pm. When I did start to read the texts set for me, however I felt completely out of my depth. I have always been good at English and even managed to get a grade A in my English literature A-level but I couldn’t understand half of the terms that I was presented with. I’M SUPPOSED TO BE SMART DAMNIT!

I know it’s still early days and most of my fellow students will probably encounter this problem too and I don’t know how much help lecturers/seminar tutors are supposed to give. I will never be an academic writer. You can count on that! The sentences are too long winded. The expectations and standard of academic material here is another point to add to what is fast becoming a sea of negatives surrounding my university experience.

I know things are supposed to step up a gear once you start at university. I just didn’t expect things to get quite so challenging so fast. Furthermore the stories I have heard since coming here about students staying up till 2am to finish reading is another minus point. I was always told never to push too hard and to get the right balance although I know I have been guilty of that countless times. But risking your health and possibly your sanity in order to attain a piece of paper at the end of your three years in one sense seems rather pointless.

People say it’s all about balance and I without being boastful consider myself a good time manager. But even I don’t know how I will cope with this. I want to achieve as well as I can and be the best, but not at the expense of my health or the risk that my personality should change for the worse. Yet I am still acutely aware of the opportunities that the university could offer me if I stayed and how mundane and monotonous my life will become if I choose to leave the institution.
Stephen Gately

Sunday 11th October, 2009

Went to church again this morning. I think the sister at the chaplaincy, Ella is a bit mad as she described me as the prettiest girl in the room. Must need her eyes testing or it could be her inner Scottishness talking! They are all a bit mad but nice.

When I got home I did some background reading into what might be covered in my lectures tomorrow. I feel like I haven’t done much in the way of academic studying yet. But like I said yesterday the standard and expectation set here are phenomenal and I am still not sure whether I can truly cope with them. However my mum made me feel a little better and made me realise that I was trying a bit too hard like always.

So me and the carers have decided to have a One Tree Hill night! I am only in the middle of the third out of seven seasons and the other carers have never watched an episode. The storylines are so complex I just hope they grasp the plot easily.

On a completely different note I was sad to hear about the death of my first ever celebrity crush - Stephen Gately. I first developed a crush on him when I saw Boyzone in concert at the tender age of eight years old. I remember crying for hours when I found out he was gay. As it meant that I couldn’t ACTUALLY marry him. I seem to have a particularly strong tendency to fall for gay people as my next crush was H from the legendary pop group Steps. Hopefully, that won’t continue and there is a chance for me to become Mrs DiCaprio yet.

Week 3

Monday 12th October, 2009

Oh when will my feelings of discomfort and awkwardness end?! I still feel completely out of my depth and uncomfortable with my surroundings. I know I’m scared of change, as I was told so many a time by my English literature teacher last year - I want so much to prove that I am not. If you don’t feel at least partially comfortable in a new learning or social environment after a few times of encountering it in my opinion you never will.

But the unfamiliarity and the awkwardness I feel here is proving quite too much to bear (I’m not being over dramatic). To any potential university goers reading this, this is probably not what Ouch! wanted you to read. They wanted me to elaborate on initial problems I might have had, but might have expected things to have calmed down by now. Well the truth is they haven’t.
I am treating this experience like a personal diary. And in any diary you’re generally at your rawest so I’m not going to shy away from the truth. My advice to any potential students of any kind is don’t consider that everything after your application and results is going to be plain sailing. I did, and perhaps that was wishful thinking. If you don’t feel comfortable after a couple of weeks talk to your tutors or someone you trust about your feelings, but if they can't offer any help or advice, and you still feel totally at a loss, then university obviously isn't for you.
The Arctic Monkeys
I know parents and or others will probably have spent a lot of time, money and effort in preparation for you going to university and if you don't feel comfortable then, this can make you feel extremely guilty, yet, equally this is probably the first time where you can afford to think solely about yourself. Everyone else has generally got to a place in their live they feel comfortable with and you should be no exception.

At the end of the day it's YOUR FUTURE AND YOUR HAPPINESS that hangs in the balance and hopefully because your parents love and care for you they will support you in whatever direction you choose to go. Just because you may not go to uni doesn't mean you can't have a happy and successful life. I think my mum thinks that it's the end of the world at the moment as I've expressed my feelings to her, but trust me, if I go home I'll be scouring those job websites just like a dog sniffs out blood ... just like everyone else. So I am still “Should I stay or should I go”?
The only highlights of today were when my carer Janna spilled an entire and I do mean the entire packet of pasta all over our kitchen floor and the fact that for one of our set films in film and culture studies we had to watch a romantic comedy from 1934. It was quite easy to follow and I could clearly see many of the genre elements in this practically ancient film that make parts of today’s romantic comedy study, and it made a nice change from the gazillion or so scenes of blood and violence that my film tutor showed at college last year.

Tuesday 13th October, 2009

Aside from lectures today, in the evening we had the County College welcome dinner, where County students and staff all came together for a meal at a local nightclub/restaurant. The food was very nice and afterwards there was dancing. The cleaners were even doing the Macarena. It was also amusing, because the taxi driver, who took us and collected us from the club, started singing songs to us as he was driving.
Getting ready to go out

Wednesday 14th October, 2009

Today I felt quite upset, because another university seminar in a subject that I am supposedly 'gifted' in, Film Studies, had gone right over my head. This coupled with all the frustrations and anxieties I have been feeling since I got here all boiled over and caused me to be rude to my carers. I know I shouldn’t have done it and I apologized afterwards but as my social life has always been difficult I haven’t had close friends who I can share my problems with or simply use as a comfort blanket when I need them.

So unfortunately my parents, and now my new carers, seem to get the brunt of it when I feel angry. Nevertheless it is frustrating.

Another slightly annoying thing happened today when I accidently deleted all of the 842 songs on my iPod. Luckily I manage to retrieve a large majority of them and there had been quite a few that I want to delete anyway, so hopefully the iPod has done it for me.
I went to the music team meeting at the student radio station again and that lifted my downcast mood. We got to listen to the Arctic Monkeys’ new single. I normally LOVE their stuff, but this one was a huge disappointment. Don’t think it will be a hit. Too calm compared to their usual style. We even got to listen to a track that sounded like Sonic the Hedgehog or indeed any Sega computer game.

Thursday 15th October, 2009

Today’s sociology seminar was a bit better than last week, but not by much. Luckily my tutor was more than happy to provide links to websites about a topic I have been struggling with, so I think this will help.

Mum came today for the first time since she finished her two weeks training of my carers. Of course I missed her, but not as much as she missed me. I’m relishing the freedom, but we had a long talk about my on-going dilemma about whether to stay or not.
Charlotte partying
I also realise that perhaps I need to push myself a little harder and not be afraid to ask for help.

In the evening myself and Elaine went to watch a screening of the film “Coraline” at the university’s cinema. I didn’t want to go to see it that much when it was a new film back in May, but it looked a damn sight better than the other films on show this week. I even saw my new friend Sally from Bailrigg there. The animation in the film was really good, but the story line was way too scary to be classified a PG in my opinion or maybe I am a super “wuss”. It was nice to see Terri Hatcher playing a more sinister and evil character compared to usual dizzy roles, so all in all a pleasant evening.

Friday 16th October, 2009

Tonight we had a lot of CSV (Community Service Volunteers like my carers) and their students around for a take-away tea. Janna thought the fish and chips looked disgusting, but I have missed such unhealthy British food. It was nice to get to know everyone a little better and I think the carers don't feel quite as isolated as they too are meeting people in similar circumstances. My parents dropped in briefly on their way up to Scotland to visit my grandma for her 85th birthday.

After our tea, me, my carers and our dinner guests went down to County Bar for a quiet drink. Well, it would have been quiet if the music coming from the speakers hadn't been Meat Loaf or had been played at a quieter level.

After a while, my new friends from my own flat and the one next door, Hannah, Jess, Nathalie and Rachel came to the bar to talk to us in the middle of their own mini pub crawl. It was very funny when Hannah couldn't understand the accent of one of the other carers, Shelley. She's quite well spoken so thought her name was Chalet - like something you would stay in on a skiing holiday. She only realised the real word when she explained her name was the same as Barbie's niece. Very funny! I think life is starting to look a little rosier here.
At the County bar

Saturday 17th October, 2009

Today got off to a very late start despite agreeing with Elaine to get up at nine o'clock this morning. So the day should be solely focused on my workload (what fun). She didn't hear her alarm go and as a consequence didn't come to wake me up till 11:16. She was very apologetic about it and it also amused me that everyone in my flat seemed to be hungover from the bar crawl apart from me. HAHA.

And guess what the rest of my day has consisted of? Guess! You got it. Reading. Yay! With the occasional chocolate break which makes it slightly more bearable. We also had an excellent dinner of Chinese - yummy!

Sunday 18th October, 2009

I went to church this morning despite Janna encouraging me not to go as the weather was horrible. But I persevered as one has got to worship Him in all weathers. It meant I got an excellent chick pea curry for lunch, too. After listening to John Barrowman on Elaine Paige's show tunes programme on Radio 2 whilst having my shower, I began to read the most entertaining academic text that I have read at Lancaster. It's an article on the origins of the “Chav”, “Ned”, “Scally” etc.- all very funny! But I am a little worried as I haven’t yet found time to start on my first sociology assignment which includes a 1,000 word essay and a 500 word annotated bibliography, all to be handed in by the 9th of November. Eek! Hopefully it should all work fine.

I am looking forward to dinner tonight as some other CSV volunteers are coming to have the meal with us. Today is my grandma’s 85th birthday and my parents are away in Scotland for this weekend to help her celebrate. She is a tough old bird and I am very proud of her as are all my family. In fact, today is the birthday of at least three people I know - so Happy Birthday to my grandma, St Luke ... and don’t worry, Zac Effron, your cake and card are in the post. You can thank me later!

Week 4

Monday,19th October, 2009

The film and cultural studies lecture was pretty weird and cheesy. We were talking about the film we had watched the previous week and debating an argument put forward in my reading that a film like that cannot be constituted as a good film as it is unrealistic and farfetched.

Tuesday 20th October, 2009

One of my worst flaws is that I always tend to overestimate things that are going to happen in the future. This uni thing is a classic example. When I was originally thinking about which uni to attend, I had no qualms in saying that I wanted to move away from home to see new areas and assert my own independence. However, actually being here at Lancaster has taught me that maybe this wasn't the right decision, as seen by all the problems and concerns I have poured out to you readers over the past few weeks. Bizarrely, I also thought my parents didn't question my request to move away from home at all. I thought they would have given me a list of the pros and cons of each living situation before I went but I guess they wanted to respect the fact that I am becoming an adult now and I have to make decisions for myself.

I know and respect that they stepped back, but in this case I feel I made a horrible decision. It's all coming back to the constant dilemma of the opportunities Lancaster University can give me versus how pressurized it is and how out of sync I feel socially, compared to others. I really can't get the balance between working and leisure time.

Lancaster Uni is a great institution. I can see that but I am just not sure if it is the one for me and yet the ones closer to home are lower down the league tables and I can't afford to risk the chance of a good job or a good education. My mum has offered to come with me to see the personal tutor I've been assigned here, at least about the workload. I don't mind going but I don't want my mum to come. It'll be just like a Parent Teacher meeting back at school and I can't expect her to hold my hand and do things for me all the time. I need to assert myself because one day she won't be around. Basically to sum up today's entry, I am stuck in the same rut but I have absolutely no idea how to get out.

Wednesday 21st October, 2009

This morning I felt ever so slightly better as I felt I had understood this week's film reading well, meaning that I found the lecture reasonably easy to follow. We had the misfortune of listening to a really cheesy CD at the Bailrigg radio meeting by someone called Leroy Huddson, he doesn't sound like the next James Morisson!

The track we listened to was a cover of the Nat King Cole hit When I fall in Love but it had a really Disney-ish intro. Not exactly something I would listen to while getting ready to go out. I have the version that X-factor contestant Andy Abraham sings on my Ipod and that is a million times better. Janna, my carer, took home a CD of seriously BAD house music that no one else wanted, because she wanted to torture me with that. I was powerless to resist her as obviously I can't move.

Thursday 22nd October, 2009

Mum came again today as I was still feeling confused and upset about what to do. I implored her to take me home because I saw no other sensible option. However, she was just as defiant and said that I shouldn't come home until I have explored every possible avenue and way of help here. In the end, I know she is probably right.

I guess you could say she has been a pretty big influence, not only whilst I have been here, but also during my whole life. My aunts and uncles didn't have much growing up, so it's taught me to be appreciative of the little things and to be happy because of what you do have. I am not a quitter by nature. I know it may be hard, but if I achieve really well here particularly in film and culture and get in with the best people, just think where I could be in 4-5 years.

I admire all the people within the industry who haven't quit in the face of adversity and are powerhouses at what they do, but are nice people with it and use their prestige constructively to help other people. And that's all I ever want to do with the career path that I choose.

I want particularly to help young girls with disabilities to be comfortable within their own skins and not be as unhappy as I was throughout much of my teen years. And I also want people who don’t have such problems to be less intimidated by people like me and learn to appreciate them as normal.
I definitely want to use the Media to attain my goal. I have learned through using it so frequently that it can influence so many so quickly and that’s part of what I love so much about it. So thank you mum for pushing me so hard, I will try to make you and all those I know proud of me, I promise.

In a bizarre stroke of luck today, I had an email from the senior tutor for County College asking whether he could meet me to discuss how uni has gone so far. So I am going to meet him tomorrow and hopefully things will truly start to get better.

Friday 23rd October, 2009

Hurray! I see light at the end of this very, very long and dark tunnel. I discussed a lot with my personal tutor, and he seemed happy to help. I queried with him about possibly dropping one of my minor subjects, sociology, as that is the subject I am struggling with most. He didn’t think it would be an issue as similar circumstances have arisen with past students - it would help me start to have a bit more of a social life as I would have slightly less work to do.

So this knot I have found myself in since starting here is slowly starting to unwind. Phew! I feel I am getting along better with the people in my Gender and Women’s Studies seminar group.

Saturday 24th October, 2009

I suppose the biggest eye-opener for me throughout this whole experience has been how vulnerable and lost I have felt in such a big place swarming with people. I knew things were supposed to step up a gear once you start university, but I didn't expect things to get quite so challenging or be so emotionally draining so quickly. However, after having plucked up the courage to talk to a personal tutor yesterday, I've got a feeling that things are going to get easier from here on in. Writing this diary has been a therapeutic experience for me as it's given me a chance to vent all my feelings constructively.

I've never owned a personal diary before or had close enough friends to talk about stuff like this with. At times I've considered doing a Taylor Swift and writing songs about stuff that has happened to me but all the ideas I come up with for melodies and such sound too much like other artists' songs and I can't sing very well. So there goes that theory!
Rollercoaster ride

Sunday 25th October, 2009

Wow, I can’t believe today is here already. Time for a final diary entry. I am sure you all got the feeling that I have found this first month at Uni like a bit of a rollercoaster ride. My advice to future uni-goers would still be the same: don’t assume that everything after your application is plain sailing. Look at what uni is like once you get there and if you experience any problems or concerns be sure to talk to someone.

I suppose the biggest thing I have had to face as a result of coming here is the independence factor. I have never had to do so much for myself before and that aspect still scares me a little but it's good to know that my carers and other people are there for support when I need them. You will have all gathered from previous posts that my social life hasn’t got off to a flourishing start here either and perhaps that’s partly been my own fault. My advice to those worried about making friends is talk to everyone you meet, even if it's just to complain about the weather, and get involved with as many clubs and societies as possible. You will feel much more included and at home.

On a positive note I am going to go to the pub quiz tonight with some of my flatmates and people from next door. We will form a massive alliance so we can hopefully WIN. I see this as a small step in the right direction. I am starting to gel with my flatmates a bit more I think.

I am now more at ease with my living space than I was when I first got here. At first, I felt like the Uni was situated in the middle of nowhere but now I have seen that Lancaster provides all that a student could ever need, right here on campus; I think it is quite wonderful. I am keen to venture out into the surrounding cities more though at some point.

I guess all that remains for me to do is to thank whoever has read it for reading it. I hope you have found it enjoyable, interesting and informative.
Simon Cowell
Like I said, it's been a very therapeutic learning experience for me. I would also like to thank Ouch! for giving me this fantastic opportunity in the first place. I hope these diaries open up people's eyes to the experiences of those with disabilities so that they see as well as how different we are, how alike we are, and I hope that they do not feel quite so intimidated or daunted by those who look or act different from the norm. Well, I guess this is it, guys, (at least until I’m a media powerhouse and on every magazine cover in the country. Watch this space that's all I say! Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole, best sleep with one eye open!

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