On Insurance Choices; or I Cried On Results Day
I’ve been volunteering at the Green Britain Centre for the past couple of weeks. It’s an eco-tourism spot in the heart of Norfolk, complete with the only wind turbine in Britain that visitors can climb. If you’re ever in the area, I’d highly recommend it – the view from the top is great, and all of the tour guides are really knowledgeable.
Anyway, I was in the office the other day, and someone had stuck a load of quotes to the wall. One stood out to me, in all its cloud-shaped, Comic Sans on bright blue glory: “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” Turns out it was Douglas Adams who wrote that.
I don’t think I could have summed up the past year of my life any more succinctly than that. All through sixth form, and even through high school, I had one thing going over and over in my mind: I wanted to go to Cambridge. It was bordering on obsessive – I’d memorised pages of their website, pored over all the college stereotypes, fallen in love with the course. I applied for 2015 entry, to read Mathematics at Peterhouse. My AS grades were as good as they could be, I had near-perfect GCSEs, and loads of extracurricular and supercurricular stuff. My interview went really well, and one morning in January, I got my offer letter: A*A*A and 1, 1 in STEP II and III. I was more excited than I’ve ever been – I was so close!
I worked pretty hard for STEP, but I feel like I started too late to get the top grades. I also faltered on a couple of my Further Maths papers.
When results day rolled around, a smidge over a year ago now, I saw my results and knew that I didn’t have a chance at the Cambridge Summer Pool. Suffice to say, I was crushed – I don’t remember exactly how long I spent crying in my old form room, but we’re talking hours, not minutes. I felt awful, thinking of all the times in Year 13 that I’d not been completely focused on getting into the course of my dreams. I’d been so wrapped up in Cambridge that I’d almost completely ignored my insurance choice, which I’d met the offer for, but knew next to nothing about. Basically, my knowledge of Warwick was it was good for maths, and it was the uni that The Inbetweeners visited.
So, after getting home and taking a much-needed nap, I started reading everything I could find about Warwick. I did all the research that I’d put off when I was applying. I’m pretty sure I googled “where is Warwick university?”, and then, immediately after, googled “where is Coventry?” – I was going in almost completely blind. I looked at everything – the accommodation and the societies, the course content and the history of the university. And, slowly but surely, I felt that little pit of excitement rising. Warwick sounded pretty good – maybe things weren’t so bad.
My parents drove me down to campus the Saturday after results. I wandered around completely aimlessly for a bit – I got lost in what I now know is Claycroft, and I found the Zeeman building, and spotted the SU. Sure, it was completely different to Peterhouse’s claim to fame as the oldest-profane-building-in-Europe-still-used-for-its-original-purpose (to be said in one breath, so I’ve heard), but the change was nice.
In the month or so leading up to the welcome weekend, I got progressively more and more excited about going to uni. I still had my little doubts about Warwick. Had I made the right choice with accommodation? Would people try to pressure me to drink? Would I miss the structure of an Oxbridge college?
Yes, no, and no. I’d put Cryfield as my first choice, and ended up with Whitefields. Still pretty cheap, but I could stay over the holidays. Perfect! I’ve also made it through first year without drinking alcohol, and I’ve made friends at all points on the drinker-teetotaller continuum who are really accepting of my choice. I’ve really enjoyed the flexibility of the Warwick lifestyle – it allows me to go to society events and work for the WWS without worrying about being home in time for dinner and losing out on meal-plan money.
First year has been great – even if it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Uni is absolutely what you make it, and while I would’ve probably been happy at Cambridge, I can’t imagine being happier regardless of where I ended up. It’s not the end of the world, if you don’t end up at your firm choice, and being at Warwick has marked the beginning of a lot of new things for me. I’d have missed out on getting a second year house. I’d have missed out on having a part-time job. I’d have missed out on choosing optional modules in first year. It’s the little things that make the experience unique, and I think that’s why most people end up loving whichever university they go to.
If you’re reading this as someone who’s ended up at Warwick through your insurance choice, rest assured, it’s a great place. If you’re reading this as someone who missed a Warwick offer, then I wish you all the best, whatever happens. There are plenty of great universities full of passionate people, each with a slightly different feel, but ultimately, that’s what makes them feel like home. And, for me, that’s been the most important thing.