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This is the reality of taking a year away from Notts, from someone who did it

Honesty is the best policy


Third year at uni is many things: Stressful, busy and chaotic to name a few. However, a number of us here in Notts make the decision to take a break from studying in our penultimate year, whether this is to do a placement year, study abroad or just simply a gap year.

I was one of these students and I spent my third year in London on a placement. I swapped all nighters in George Green and Crisis nights for a 9-5 and corporate socials where you drink prosecco instead of jägerbombs. Whilst I definitely wouldn’t change my decision, there are a lot of things people simply do not tell you about spending a year away from your second home in Nottingham.

So, being the Good Samaritan that I am, I’m here to let you know what it’s really like to leave Lenton for a year and hopefully this will help those of you who are considering a year out or already have one planned.

FOMO

Ahhhh the fear of missing out. This wasn’t something that I thought I would be feeling given that I could come and visit whenever I wanted and I thought I’d come to terms with the fact that all my friends would be doing fun stuff without me. Turns out I was wrong. This was especially true at the start of my year away and the Rock City photo booth pictures all over my Instagram were really salt in the wound. Even when there was stuff I’d not even go to if I was there, I had FOMO.

However, you have to make the most of your year – there’s nothing stopping you doing things wherever you are. Go for a walk, go shopping or go on a night out with the people you’ve met. I’d tell you about my nights out in London but I don’t remember most of them…

Friends come and go

Friends come and go

That being said, I stayed in touch with a few of my pre placement friends and I’m a big believer in “if they wanted to then they would”. Sometimes you grow out of friends and that’s completely okay.

You forget everything about your degree

If I learnt anything on placement, finance is nothing like a finance degree. I officially know nothing about how to do my degree. If I had a pound for every time the lecturer said “you should know this from last year” I’d have enough money for a Costa coffee every day. Quite simply put, you won’t know it from last year because you’ve not looked at any course content in 18 months. My advice? Dig out those second year notes.

You might be a loner…but not for long

A harsh reality, but if you don’t know anyone else that is out of Notts for their third year or doing a Master’s, when you come back you won’t know anyone. It can be rough and my social life has taken a plummet compared to second year although I’m not sure I’d have time for it now given the amount of work I currently have plus I think I’m officially too old for a night out in Ocean. As for housing…you’re on your own.

This is a great opportunity to meet new people though. You’ve got to pretend you’re back to being a fresher and start talking to people. Reach out to anyone you know that you know is still here and reconnect. I do also practice what I preach – I recently went to Sheaves with someone I haven’t spoken to in a couple years and we’ve already got plans arranged for next time.

You come back and forget where everything is

Now this was humbling. At the big age of 22, I had to get Google maps out to find my way to Business School South even though I basically lived there in second year. I was checking the hopper bus timetable to see where the 903 stopped. I didn’t even know how to get to Nottingham Train Station.

Despite the fact I couldn’t tell you the difference between Derby Road, Ilkeston Road and Alfreton Road if I tried, I am now learning how to get everywhere once again…or I can make my way to a lecture on autopilot at least.

Character growth

If there is one thing about my year in London, it’s that I changed as a person and definitely for the better. Having a year away from Nottingham really does put everything into perspective – maybe it helps you realise that you’re not quite done with education or maybe you’re like me and want to graduate ASAP.

From a personal point of view, I picked up fantastic skills and amazing friendships on my placement as well as gaining a massive amount of confidence. I’m sure if you ask others who took a year out, they would tell you the same.

You definitely won’t regret it

As much as it was a harsh reality coming back to Notts after my year off, I wouldn’t take it back for anything. You learn so much outside of what you get from your lectures and at the end of the day, Nottingham will be waiting for you when you come back. Make the choice based on what’s best for you, not because you’re scared of leaving Notts behind for a year. Yes, when you come back it might not be the wild uni experience that you had in second year but let’s be honest, you don’t have time for it in third (or fourth) year anyway.

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