I may have left university 10 years ago now, but living for 4 years in Brighton has left a mark of it in my heart that doesn't seem to fade. I visited it again last week, for a quick ice cream on the beach, and as always I reflected on the path my life could have taken had I stayed there, rather than returned to London.
There aren't many pictures of me at university, technology hadn't quite caught up with us, but I do have these smiley happy photos, of the first and the last weeks of university. Brighton proved a glorious home for me for those 4 years of study (I studied primary teaching), and when I finished, I applied for all of the jobs I could, both in London and Brighton. I'd always be determined that I wouldn't do a degree and end up unemployed at the end of it, so I applied with abandon.
I got my first interview at a school in London, taught my sample lesson and got offered it. I took it, and moved away from my happy seaside life in Brighton so fast I didn't even attend my graduation.
I went to uni at 21, so a little later than most, and I'd moved out of home at 17/18 so it certainly wasn't my first taste of freedom. However, moving out of London gave me the real chance to create my own path.
I don't think I ever regretted it, I instantly loved living there, and although I HATED my course most of the time, I felt that I was happy to pay the price of staying in univeristy for the life I had there. Every half term I'd call my mother saying I wanted to quit, but she always persuaded me to stick it out, just one more half term. And it just always came back the sense I got that I was happy to pay the price of attending, to live there. If I'm honest, for the first two years my attendance was only about 50%. I found it hard being treated like a kid, and didn't enjoy most of my classes. I didn't feel like I fit in with my classmates. But I loved my life there, and it was worth it.
I used my time in Brighton to springboard me into so many experiences. In those 4 years I had a solo holiday to Greece, I worked in New York twice, and backpacked down to New Orleans alone. I volunteered in India and Kenya alone, and I did a teaching placement in Arizona. It seems I loved Brighton, but I loved leaving it too! No wonder I was ready to settle down for a bit!