It’ll be 36 years this year since I was accepted at NTU, as I look back now, it’s strange to think about the indecision, nerves and fear that affected me and no doubt, many of you also. Nottingham was only some seventy miles from home, so really only just down the road, though it felt much farther at first. I’d applied to study Interior Design, which was a four-year sandwich course that I felt would be a great advantage as only one other ID course in the country including work experience as part of the curriculum.
As the days ticked away until I found out I’d been accepted, that inner voice played all those mind games, “I’m not good enough”, “They won’t accept me”, “Just get a job”. How my mind swung from complete optimism to crisis mode on an hourly basis made wonder if I was mad. Surely others must feel this way, I thought, but never asked, as I was supposed to be that confident lad from Yorkshire. I know this now to be pretty normal, I like many still get times when that bit of panic creeps in and confidence takes a dip. I believe this is good, it keeps you grounded and focused as you drive yourself to the goal you’re trying to reach.
Well eventually the letter arrived, my mother brought it upstairs and said it’s from Nottingham and it’s heavy. That’s all I needed to know, heavy meant good news I presumed, as my friend Jacko had got a heavy envelope from Leicester, and he’d been accepted. He was right, so that was it, Nottingham would be home for the next four years and would change my life along the way.
I’d managed to get a temporary room for a couple of weeks with a family on Mansfield Road before I found a more permanent flat in Beeston. My father had driven down, dropped me at the house and said “Right I’ll be off, keep in touch”, so it was I’m on my own. I don’t know why this was really unnerving since I’d spent a lot of time travelling around the country for football games, cycling holidays with friends so it wasn’t as if I couldn’t get by on my own.
Day one came and after a deep breath I walked into the studio and all the worries disappeared, the other three people who’d been interviewed along with me had all got in too, meaning a familiar face. As the week went on we all made our first acquaintances and then in week two some of those changed as we realized who we really clicked with. Living with a family for the first two weeks, whilst not ideal certainly helped me settle in but also meant I chose to miss some of the fresher festivities, but I make up for lost time later.
I made a decision from day one, that I’d not go home until Christmas break. I felt it would be important to make the break, settle in Nottingham and it’s something I’d recommend everyone to do. Some of the students on our course went home most weekends and I felt they never truly left home and consequently missed out on the social side of being a student.
By the end of the first term, myself and three friends rented our own house in Forest Fields and now we’d all finally settled down. As with all students, I thought this place was a palace, but one of my friend’s mothers pointed out the cooker and the inch of grease, the colour of the carpets, dust etc and we were dispatched for mops, dusters and oven cleaning chemicals. A day later, the flat was spotless and in true student fashion, it was never cleaned again.
I’d made the break, now had my own space and we’d all settled into student life. Over the next four years, friends and flatmates would change, the course would be stressful at times. Still, those doubts would creep in, but you keep going, retaining that self-belief and you eventually come out the other side. Nottingham was the first step and gave me the confidence to then move to London and now Dubai and it’s been a journey I’ve loved and I wouldn’t change.
By John Rabone, Managing Director at R&R Design