These past few months have been hectic, to say the very least. Holidays, essays, further reading, exams and working until I collapse from exhaustion, has unfortunately resulted in me neglecting this. But all is over now and I have officially left Havant College (until results day) and have no further academic commitments until September 18th (so long as I get in university), I can finally start writing for pleasure again. At this moment I’m not sure what I should write about; the obvious choice would be what has happened the past year and nine months. This is my first, really quite personal, blog post. I won’t be writing like this often!
On the 8th of June 2009 I entered Havant college not knowing anyone. I never planned for it to be this way; a few days earlier my friend backed out of our escape plan and I made the (what seemed to be) rash decision to go it alone. Needless to say for the few months that followed I often regretted that choice, but now I whole heartedly believe it is the single best thing I have ever done for myself. I spent the majority of my first year alone in my free periods, it wasn’t exactly a ‘happy’ period of my life, but that did in turn result in me spending the majority of my time with my head buried in my notes- and that I am grateful for. I wouldn’t have had the courage to continue like I have, hadn’t I ended the year with those higher than ‘average’ results.
So I started with four AS levels: Classical Civilisation, History, Sociology and Drama & Theatre Studies. I had always thought history was my best subject, and that I would only do Drama for the first year as a bit of fun. Originally I was going to do English instead, thank heavens I was warned of the copious amount of essays I would have had to endure, had I chosen that course. Ironically I loathed Classics in the beginning; our teacher treated us like undergraduate students, when really no one in the class any idea what an epic poem was and how on earth a poem (Homer’s Odyssey) could be so bloody long! I wanted to study ancient myth and legend, society, ritual and religion; not some tricky dude called Odysseus that I had never even heard of before. After two months though, thankfully, all was made clear, and I rekindled my love for classics that I had lost during my high school years. Sociology allowed me to verbalise all the complaints I had about our society and culture; if the exam wasn’t so boring I might have continued with it.
I found in every one of my lessons some truly wonderful individuals. Commuting over alone meant I didn’t stick to one group and I made the effort to get to know people from all social circles, regardless of what others might have assumed about them (going by the way they looked or where they chose to hang out). Classics and Drama were my favorite lessons to attend, both for the subject and my fellow class mates. In Classics our little corner grew a bond together, as we secretly made fun of our teacher and passed ‘witty’ remarks about the texts we had to read (my copy of Oedipus Rex still has a cartoon of Oedipus calling Jocasta a MILF). For Drama it was different; you’re bound to grow comfortable around people who see you conveying a broad variety of emotions and characters. You couldn’t behave embarrassed, otherwise you wouldn’t get a good grade, simple. Our group performance of Berkoff’s Metamorphosis proved that; I’d say that was the highlight of my first year, working with those guys, managing to produce a (more than just decent) production of that ridiculous play. My monologue, on the other hand, was a terrifying experience. Choosing to play Clytemnestra (from Aeschylus’ Agamemnon) after she had slaughtered her warrior husband and his Trojan princess, was a heavy role to take on. But somehow I managed, and I managed good. Full marks, 40/40, I got for those two minutes on stage, and I am damn proud of myself.
I think the hardest part of my first year was that I was, essentially, leading two different lives. Over in Havant I was a “model student”; I was passionate and enthusiastic about my work, a pleasure to work with in the classroom (I was punctual and handed in my work on time) even if I wasn’t getting straight As. But at home I was trapped, I had left my friends behind because I felt lost around them; for a short while I was weak and as a result I became the pawn in someone’s dirty hands. I still hate myself for letting someone walk all over me like they did. Being told all my work was worth nothing, I wasn’t going anywhere, and that I should have felt bad for even wanting to follow my ambitions, because my priorities should have been based around them. But alas, after getting my results and realising I wasn’t the stupid “down syndrome” girl he’d made me out to be, I broke free. And it was from that moment onwards I found real happiness, for the first time since I had moved down to this little isle. I feel like a fool whenever I try and explain this to anyone, no one seems to be able to relate, and thank heavens for that. Summer 2010 wasn’t all bad though. Two Austrian girls came over to do their work experience in the hotel (where I worked a grueling 6 days a week); they helped me get through the really tough times when no one else had any idea what was going on with me.
My second year started out hit and miss. I had established some sort of friend group, but due to the copious amounts of work set for us the moment we walked through Havant college’s gates, I now found myself stuck in the library out of necessity rather than just handiness. My results were interesting; I dropped sociology, stuck with Drama, Classics, History (even though, somehow, I managed to fail miserably) and picked up Religious Studies (an odd choice, considering how much I loathed it at GCSE). I ended up breaking down in front of my history teacher from all the stress, working a 7 day week didn’t really do me any favours. I trekked through it, somehow, and by Christmas I had learnt how to deal with it all. Finally I started to build solid friendships with people. That has had its ups and downs, but nevertheless the people I have come to love (platonically, of course) I know I’ll never forget. In January I re-took my History AS level exams, and by February I was on a plane, with a fabulous bunch of people, on my way to a trip some people would call a once in a life time experience.
China (https://nobodysaknowitall.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/beijing/), though it only lasted 5 days, made me realise just how much better I was for choosing to go to Havant alone. No school on the Island offered that kind of opportunity; no school on the island hosted that fabulous group of people (in my opinion). That trip sparked my burning desire to travel the world. Prior to college I had only ever visited Ireland, Bulgaria and Austria. The latter two were Ski trips, and the former was just home to me. About a fortnight after I landed back in the UK I had booked my flights to Greece; my first holiday without college or my family to shelter me. In March I got offered a place at Royal Holloway, University of London, after I thought my interview had gone terribly. If I don’t get the grades to get in I will be devastated; I honestly felt like I belonged there, as crazy as that sounds. I keep telling myself it will be fine and that I will travel the world instead. But really, deep down, I know I’ll be gutted. Behaving like a slave to my A levels will feel like a waste, even though I know they haven’t been at all. On March 10th I got my re-take results back, As in both my history modules, 4 grade boundaries above what I had achieved in the summer. On the 10th of April I flew out to Athens, the place I had been reading about, whose 5th century thinkers had both entertained (playwrights) and inspired me (philosopher, namely Socrates). Athens turned out to be everything I had hoped for, and more (https://nobodysaknowitall.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/athens-delphi-greece-10th-14th-april-2011/). It felt so, so good to know I worked for that, paid for it out of my hard earned cash. I can’t thank my Drama teacher enough for helping us out the way she did. She’ll always be my favourite.
The end of the year was, for me, quite sad. No one else had had the same experience as me, Havant to them was just school; they loathed the fact they had to do A levels, the fact they had to do some shitty work to further their education. I’m going to miss all the guys on the boat (even though the group divides were a pain at times), especially my odd combination. The exam rush made the leaving experience surreal, it still hasn’t sunk in that those two years are pretty much over. My exams didn’t go well at all, it almost felt as if I’d revised too much, I couldn’t condense what I knew into a rushed exam. Saying goodbye to my teachers today was horrible. Polly (drama) and Ed (classics) have been just awesome. Robin (RS) was a pretty cool ‘dude’ too (you’d have to know him to understand why I refer to him as a dude). Ed gave me 5 classics books out of the store room to take with me to uni, that was unexpected. Polly and I ended up in full on discussion like we so often do, I’m definitely keeping in touch with her. Eventually I managed to get myself to just go, I handed in my leavers form (got a nifty Havant College key ring in return haha), and I walked out those gates no longer a student. On the way out I ran into my classics buddy Alex, it was good to leave with one of the people who have been with me from day one, and I told him “You know, I started out here with no friends, I didn’t know a single soul in this place”.
I look back on the person I was, two years ago, like a stranger. This post barely begins to explain just how great an impact Havant College has had on my life. I’m a different person, I have found myself now, finally I don’t feel lost anymore. If anyone who is reading this finds them in a situation like mine, then for gods sake don’t hesitate and always take that opportunity (whatever yours may be). Life’s no fun if you’re not willing to take some risks, trawl through some shit so that it can get good. The summer I have planned ahead is awesome: 10 days in Austria with Julia (visiting Villach, Vienna and even Italy), I have a new job that I loved sorted, possibly a trip home to Ireland to visit the new baby, and the end will be nicely wrapped up with Bestival. I really do hope I get into University, but if not, I have the world to look forward too (so is the plan). This year has been the best ever, I hope it carries on.
I’ll add pictures to this once they’re all developed (me and my disposable cameras…).