University of Sussex : My Welcome Week : Mature Student Induction

Welcome to the University of Sussex!!

13th in the UK. 34th in Europe. 110th in the WORLD. 
6th in the UK for Anatomy and Physiology.

My first time back to the campus since my interview in the John Maynard Smith building back in April 2012; that itself is a day I won't forget in a hurry but it was a different kind of fear! It was a grey, wet day. Much like early September weather!

Just to clarify, the reason I didn't join the 2012 cohort was because of a mountain of benefit and housing drama, and I was risking losing my home. This was during the big changeover to the new 'ESA' system and no two agencies knew what to do. Income support would tell me one thing and Housing Benefit would say another. Absolute nightmare and I had no choice but to defer. Their suggestion of applying and seeing how the benefit system reacted just wasn't an option.

But here we are. Here I am. Twenty-six years old and embarking on a three year degree programme. Definitely a mature student, with some sort of useful experience thanks to my two years with the Open University. Nevertheless, I am full of fears, concerns, nausea and general irrational worries that Generalised Anxiety Disorder loves to throw my way.

I knew before I started that I wasn't by any means alone in these feelings, and the few hours I spent with fellow mature students certainly confirmed that. It might be a really crappy feeling to be stuck with, but it's normal and the university made it clear that they understood and were ready and waiting to help.

So. Saturday 14th September. 11am. That is when my journey with the University of Sussex began. Well, slightly before I guess, as I had to get the bus by myself to campus. This might be a nothing event for some, but I have only lived in Brighton 10 days and my knowledge of buses and local geography isn't exactly up to scratch. I knew there was a 'university bus', and didn't have to wait long at all for the 25 to roll around the corner. It's a £2 single ticket to the campus, reasonable, but I am waiting for my student loan to appear so I can get an annual ticket of some description.

The journey didn't take long enough in my opinion, within 10 minutes I was staring the huge concrete 'University of Sussex' landmark in the face. Oh god. I wasn't going to panic and run away. Hell no. Mental illness has taken too much from me. I've got this far, this was my goal, no way was it going to grab me now. So. I took a deep breath, found my girl balls, manned the hell up and got off the bus.

Sweating. Heart pounding despite a severe dose of anxiety medication. In case you were curious, you can still experience palpitations on the maximum dose of a beta blocker.

The walk through campus was surreal. It was quiet, but for not even 11am I think that will always be the case! There were helpful, happy green t-shirted people on hand ready to point you in the right direction. The volume of buildings and pathways was quite overwhelming, but not oh-my-god-the-sky-is-falling-on-me terrifying. I did like that the buildings were clearly named, and the signposts certainly helped too! Plus the traditional 'just follow someone and see what happens' worked a treat.

The Mature Student Induction was held in the Jubilee Building. It's incredibly posh, and does stick out against the 60's brickwork of it's neighbors... Haha! I was greeted by a lovely student rep, who guided me to the area with the free tea, coffee and biscuits. We had to register and were given a sticker with our first name, school and subject. I was relieved it wasn't one of those painfully awkward "Hello, my name is" variations.

There were about 50 people there, already in little pockets, chatting away. Oh hell. Noisy. Strange people. Scary. Scary. Scary. I found a table in a corner removed from the crowd and tried to calm myself down. The same lady that greeted me at the door came and spoke to me for a little while before we were called through to the lecture theater which was really lovely.

My school, Life Sciences, didn't have many other attendees. In fact, I found just one other person and that was during our second tea break!

Side note: We were SPOILT. Only us mature folk get free refreshments! The coffee was gorgeous and was certainly popular. There were baskets of yummy biscuits and we could just dive in! Epic. At the end of the induction, lunch was provided but sadly I couldn't stay for that. I had to go to Worthing to get more supplies to deal with my pain in the backside house.

We had three presentations to attend: A welcome from the academic registrar, a presentation on the Student Union by president Kelly McBride and her co-workers and Careers, employability and study success. We were also told in brief about the Student Life Center. I believe the lady who was due to give a more informed presentation was unwell with morning sickness - boo, but yay for babies!!

It was a lot of information to take on-board. I left at 1.30pm with quite a headache and feeling somewhat dazed by the whole experience. There was also a feeling of inspiration, confidence and some sort of 'calm', knowing I'd got the first induction out of the way without major incident. So quite a mixed bag really!!

I got the train from Falmer - which is actually very easy to find! - to my Mum's house and had lovely cuddles with my big boy, OxO, before heading back out again in search of repair materials. My mum seemed to be very proud that finally someone in our family tree is going to university and going to follow an academic path rather than one of factory or shop work. Hooray for First Generation Scholars!

Next time: My first 'social' event, including crap weather, getting lost and reassuring a mum of a 18 year old daughter! Yikes!!!


  1. Wow, sounds so exciting! Well done you for embarking on this massive mission! Good luck with it all, I'm sure you will be just fabulous

    Lyndsay | Fizzy Peaches

  2. Exciting, go you! For my first year my halls were in Falmer, oh lovely Falmer haha ! Hope you have an incredible three years :)

    Sophierosehearts x

  3. Glad you had such a good experience on your first day, I hope it continues like that for you :) <3


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