Let’s talk: My Uni Story part 1

Well hello there! Carrying on from my last posts theme of education, this is gonna about why I chose my degree. Literally, the only reason I’m writing this post is that I move back to uni next week and I am super excited because I am so in love with my university. It’s location is stunning, the people I’ve met are all amazing and I honestly believe that my time at university wouldn’t have been as fun as it has been without them.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts you will know that I study Outdoor Adventure Education. Essentially, we go out on practical once a week and the rest of the time we learn about how outdoor education is used for therapy or its use in education and how it benefits people. Its really interesting and we do do a lot of really dumb stuff. The story of how I chose to do it as a degree is a little random and a lot of people question it, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

When I was choosing my Sixth Form options I originally chose to study Theatre Studies, English Language and Media. I chose these subjects because of my love for theatre. In my mind, all of the subjects really geared someone up to be an actor or a play writer. Something which was proven true by Lin-Manuel Miranda with everything he did with the musical Hamilton. It was a few days before my 18th birthday and my mind was on anything but going back to college. I was on Facetime with a friend of mine and the phone rang. I left it for my mum to answer, which she did and then a few seconds later she called “Josh! It’s the school”. She handed me the phone and I was talking to the head of sixth form, he asked if I could come and chat about my choices. I walked down to the school the day before my birthday and wandered the whole way down what this was about. A man that looks a lot like Uncle Ian from Alvin and The Chipmunks met me and took me into his office. The conversation was rather limited and not pleasant. In his words I “wasn’t smart enough to study my choices” and that I should study BTEC subjects. Mildly insulted, I left his office and headed home. I realised that actually studying BTEC subjects was a good thing because it meant no exams.

When the start of term came around I met some of my friends who were in the same position as me and we headed into our welcome assembly. We got told that everyone in the room has great potential to do well and all the usual things that teachers say to every year group. They also said that everyone in our assembly was on an access year because they thought we would need a little extra help and that we may find that we are enrolled in extra subjects to bulk out the timetable. When I was handed my timetable I noticed that I was down for ICT and Media, the subjects I chose, and Outdoor Education. I showed up to the first lesson and sat at the back of the room, I really didn’t want to be there. Then entered the teacher. He was a very short guy who looked to be about 12 years old. He turned out to become a good friend of mine and someone who helped me a lot. His name was Tom Moores and he was the most down to earth teacher I have ever met.

As the year progressed it turns out we didn’t do a lot of paperwork but we went out rock climbing and kayaking more and more. That was when I really got hooked on adventure sports. We also did a sport called coasteering, which I’ll talk a little more about later. Tom was always so supportive and always pushed me to push myself a little harder and to do better things. I started to do a bit of work experience with him helping with the Outdoor Education subject within the school. The kids on that subject were the typical pain in the butt kids who were always in trouble. Except, when we were out climbing or kayaking they weren’t. They were really well behaved and got on with each other. It was weird to see kids who were considered bullies actually be nice to other students.

At the end of the year there was a sixth form residential to North Devon where we would be doing climbing, kayaking, surfing and coasteering. Tom emailed me one day and asked if I could sign up to the trip so I could help with some of the activities. I managed to a load of my friends to sign up as well so the trip would happen and everyone was really excited about it. We arrived in North Devon and Tom asked me not to go climbing and kayaking but to stay and help with the climbing and coasteering sessions. I should really explain what coasteering is. Its an adventure sport where you travel around a coastline by climbing on rocks and jumping into the sea and swimming to the next load of rocks which you would climb and then jump off the other side and that would continue until you got to a certain point. It is really good fun.

The weather conditions were perfect for surfing. There was a strong offshore wind creating big waves and a lot of sets of waves. Everyone enjoyed the surfing that morning, me and Tom managed to get everyone to ride a wave and everyone was in a great mood. When it came to coasteering however, the perfect surfing weather was less than ideal for climbing over rocks and swimming in open water. We had to skip the first two jumps becasue the waves were about 5 foot above the rocks before slamming into them which would send our group flying. The third jump was reachable and me and Tom watched from the path to see if the group could actually manage the jump. We concluded that it was safe and that I would go first and pull people out of the water. After I left the rock nothing went to plan. I started to climb the rock on the other side, not able to hear any instructions from the group because of the thundering waves surrounding me. From this point onwards I have no recollection of what happened, and this is what I was told happened. I got swept from the rock by a wave, bounced off of my head and landed face down on the water with my elbow in a funny position. I rolled myself over and signalled to Tom to pull me out. He threw a rope to me and I held on for dear life.

My friends were in hysterics. They thought they had just seen me die right in front of them. Once I was back on the rock I went straight to the people who were emotional wrecks and showed them I was fine and that they should carry on with the route because it got so much safer and less exposed to the waves and that I would follow along on the path and encourage them. After the session Tom took me straight to the hospital. He said that if that had been anyone else they probably would have died and that I handled the accident so well that he thought I would make a great instructor one day.

It’s funny thinking about it. The reason I chose to do my degree is because I nearly died doing one of the activities involved. But I’ve also seen how groups pull together to support each other and how the activities benefit people. I can’t imagine any other thing I would love to do with my time than help people be better people and have so much fun doing it.

Love you, Bye!
P.S. Don’t forget to be awesome 🙂

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