First Year at University: A Reflection With Thanks

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“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”

I feel like I can empathise slightly with Morgan Peck on this one, when I look back on my first year at Stirling University.

It is an insane thing to think that my first year at university is actually finished. Just like that! Time goes by like a snail trying to move against a Tesco checkout belt when you are in high school. all of a sudden the snail has been whipped up by the checkout belt, into the shopping bag, chucked into the pan and served up as escargot on the plate of a hungry Frenchman before he can say “Quoi?”

Seriously, that fast. Seriously.

Nevertheless, I can honestly say that my first year at university has been one of the best years of my life for a number of reasons, which I will divulge to you now.

Before we go anywhere, we have to set some things out for background information, else the message I am trying to put across here will be lost in a myriad of pathetic dribble.

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When I start university back in Septmeber last year, it was off the back of one of the worst periods of my life.  In brief, I was depressed, lonely, underweight, stressed about nothing, and had exceptionally low self-esteem. Those who know me now may be surprised to hear this, and I’d be glad if you were. Before the start of 2013, I was a outgoing, confident, fit and healthy chap who enjoyed Mars bars. That all changed; I took up running, gave up eating, lost a lot of close friends, and became very self-centred. When it occurred to me this was all happening, I got really down and it just made matters worse. I went from around 10.5 stone to 9 stone in the space of about 10 months. Not good.

I have no idea what brought it all about, all I can say is I am glad to be shot of it and university has helped me in so many ways.

For starters: Brig. Brig has been an enormous benefit to me of innumerable reasons. I always had an interest in writing, politics, news, and the media, and when I came to Stirling I decided to give Brig a bash and see how it went.

It went unbelievably.

Graham Swann, Emma Thomson, Rob Adair and the rest of the gang have made me feel part of a family of absolutely fantastic and talented people who I am very glad to call my friends. Through Brig I’ve made more friends, and had experiences I never thought I’d have; like getting my writing in print!

Furthermore, it showed me something I was good at. To be given the ‘Best New Writer Award’ back in December was just an unbelievable moment for me. To then receive it again just the other night is just mind-boggling. What it tells me is that I have something of value to give to others, and I cannot express how much that means.

Brig also encouraged me to start up my own blog. I decided to follow suit of my journalistic hero Nick Robinson, who I saw maintained a blog, had a history in radio journalism, and now works for the BBC as their Political Correspondent. I decided that practice makes perfect, and so I set about writing regularly on my blog politicalbagels.blogspot.co.uk.

What happened after was even more crazy. I wrote a piece on hillwalking, and how it benefits your health. Just for fun, I sent it to the Alloa Advertiser, who then printed the thing – accompanied with a photo I had sent them of the Ochil Hills on Facebook and a photo of me – on a full page! What?

BEST NEW WRITER: Twice in one year?!

BEST NEW WRITER: Twice in one year?

Since then, I have been asked to write blog pieces for the AA on their website. Other people I have talked with are Bite the Ballot (a campaign group aimed at getting young people registered to vote), and the campaign Free to Feed, after I wrote a reportage regarding woman and breastfeeding in public.

Also, a massive thanks to the CMC department. Eddy Borges-Rey asked me to write a blog post for the cmcstir website on the importance of getting into writing material on a regular basis from early on.

These have all been an insane boost for my confidence, and has hopefully put me in good stead for my journalistic career.

These are not the only achievements I am proud of getting this year.

I was nominated for ‘Most Active Online’ for Brig; am now the Online Editor for the paper’s website; passed my driving test (woop! Third time lucky); went on a level 2 Gym Instructor course (which I am awaiting the results of), and received pretty decent marks in my modules. None of which could have been possible without the support of my new mates I have made whilst at university, and of my parents (who will probably be looking for a mention here).

Another part of university life I would also like to pay thanks to is Stirling’s Sports Centre and the Fitness Officers at the Gannochy, who have shown me enormous kindness and support in helping me get back on track.

NEW CAR: Buying Rocky after passing my test!

NEW CAR: Buying Rocky after passing my test!

I would like to make a special thank you to James Dugdale, my fitness programme creator and now good friend, who has built up my strength and confidence in myself. I first came to James after spending a month in the gym randomly lifting weights and not really doing anything purposeful, with the aim of getting back to my fighting weight and good physique I had before. He set me up with a solid strength building programme, which has seen me fall in love with the weights room; something I did not expect after having to go through 45-minutes of the fitness room in high school PE.

Following on from this, I look to move forward towards my goals in the physique area, working with UKBFF Scottish Physique Champion Joe Parish. I am looking forward to new training styles, and seeing even greater progress!

So, that’s it! First year is done, and now I have 4 months in which to get set for round two. Next year I will be returning to my Journalism and Politics modules, along with Issues and Concepts in Sport in the Autumn, and then the Historical Development of Sport in Spring 2015. This summer I am hoping to get some voluntary work at the Gannochy, and am looking forward to working at the Commonwealth Games, too. Oh yeah, I got an email yesterday from Glasgow 2014 saying, unfortunately, I had not got the role of being the Clyde Mascot for the baton relay – oh well!

ALLOA ADVERTISER: Full-page!!

ALLOA ADVERTISER: Full-page!!

Thanks a lot for sticking around to the end of this sentimental blog. I have probably missed a few bits and pieces, but I am sure this is enough to get the message across that university has benefited me enormously. I think I can certainly say that I do value myself more than ever, and I have valued my time this year.

Make the most of today, because you will be grateful you did in the future.

Ciao!

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