It has now been exactly one month to the day since I started college, when you’re reading this, which seems crazy for so many reasons! On the one hand, I can’t believe I’ve already been here a month and it’s sort of scary how quickly the time is going, but on the other hand, I feel like I’ve been here forever and definitely a lot longer than a month because so much has happened already in a mere 4-5 weeks. I’ve been keeping up with my weekly vlogging on my YouTube channel, so if you want to see how I’ve been coping with college on a more day-to-day, as it happens basis, then you can check out my YouTube channel: Samantha Drage, but I wanted to take the time to break down the last month in writing for you all here to and to help me sort through it all in my head.
The first week of college was pretty nerve-wracking because it was A LOT of new things in such a short space of time: new people, new environment, new teachers, new city, new morning routine, new everything, which was pretty damn challenging for me, as someone with Autism. I made it though tho and I was surprised at every turn with just how amazingly supportive everyone at the college is. I think I may do a whole blog post on this and I did also talk about it in my weekly vlogs, but the college truly are incredibly supportive and really go out of their way to make me feel welcome, comfortable and happy, which is something I’ve never experienced before, since my secondary school experience was something of a nightmare.
We didn’t do loads of interesting stuff in the first week because a lot of it was just tours of the college, getting logged onto computers, going of rules, assemblies and other welcome activities, but they did throw us in the deep end a little with a charity project in week one, in between all of the welcome things. We had to create a photography alphabet (which I have done many times before, so I wasn’t super thrilled about this 😂), but then we had to transfer the photos onto wooden squares to make coasters, which was super fun and something I didn’t know you could do.
The first week was definitely a lot, but i think the hardest thing for me was actually just how well i was treated. I know that sounds strange, so let me explain. I was treated with nothing but annoyance and disrespect at my secondary school to the point where being treated terribly because of my disability became a norm to me and it wasn’t until I went to the college and had people reassuring me, checking on me and also following the instructions we gave them to help me feel safer to the T that I realised just how badly I was treated at school. Whenever I said “I don’t feel comfortable with that” or “I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, can I step outside and listen to music for 5 minutes”. The answer was always “of, course” and “is there anything I can do”. They’ve been so accommodating and have made me actually feel excited to go in to college and learn, which is something I never thought I’d feel.
I actually settled into college pretty quickly after I realised just how accommodating everyone was being and that this was a place I could actually feel safe an happy, so I was actually okay with just how much they threw us in the deep end in week 2. They wasted no time in starting the course and we started are first unit ‘Through the Lens’. We’ve actually just finished this unit when I’m writing this just a couple of weeks later, so that should give you an idea about how fast the college works! I’m actually okay with that though because although I do need more downtime than most, I find I get most of my work done at college during breaks and lunch because I feel happy there, which leaves me time to relax when I get home.
I also didn’t find the first unit anything particularly strenuous because I’m actually significantly further ahead than everyone else in my course because I took photography at GCSE which means I already understand all the camera controls and compositional techniques that we were focusing on in Unit 1. The first unit has been a little boring because of that, but I don’t mind too much because it’s allowed me to settle into a routine and find my feet at college without having to actually take in any information.
Week 3 was a bit of a strange one because we actually put the main programme on hold during this week in order to do a mini ‘Research Qualification’. It really was a mini qualification because it only lasted this one week, but that was still a whole week too long in my opinion.
The entire qualification was just teaching us how to Harvard reference properly, so we couldn’t be accused of plagiarism (which took about an hour to just explain it on a PowerPoint) and then we had to write an essay on a topic of our choosing – providing it was related to our subject, so in my case, photography – and Harvard reference are resources properly. It’s safe to say that this week was perhaps the most bored I have been since I left secondary school and I actually just peaced out during this week and didn’t bother coming in since it was a real waste of my time. I did still do the essay (since it was compulsory), but I did it in about an hour at home in my PJ’s rather than spending a total of about 20 hours on it in college.
Also, just for the record, Harvard referencing is a load of rubbish! I understand it for books because you do need all that info to find the place you’re talking about, but if it is a website, then all you need is the web-address. A controversial opinion, but it’s just how I feel!
And now we’re up to just last week as you’re reading this, which was a bit of a mixed bag. We started the week by finishing off any work from Unit 1 from the previous couple of weeks and we learnt about different mediums and cameras in photogrpahy, which I found particularly interesting since that’s the only thing we’ve done so far that I’ve never done before. Some of the old methods of photography are actually super cool (if a little dangerous) and I’m really hoping they’ll let us try them! We also briefly started looking at the next unit because we were going on a trip on Wednesday and we needed to know what we were actually doing on this trip!
Tuesday was a bit of a dud because we were just going over camera controls again, which I’m already well-versed in so I went home early. I did struggle a little on Tuesday as well because we were in a new room, which threw me off A LOT. I knew we were going to be in different rooms, so it wasn’t that that threw me off, but the room itself had loads of background noise and had a strange smell because it actually used to be a dark room, so it isn’t an ideal classroom. All the background noise and the other sensory things set of my sensory overload and it just got a bit overwhelming when you added in everyone talking, the smell of smoke coming off of some people, keyboard clacking and the camera shutters going off. Yet again I was INCREDIBLY impressed with how good the college are at catering to students with special needs because they let me leave immediately when I said it was too much and I actually came back on Friday with a whole speach prepared and a load of reasons why I hated that room, so that I could see what could be done about it, but my teacher has already passed the message onto my main tutor and they were going to swap rooms with the year 2’s, so it is no longer a problem! I actually almost cried when my tutor told me that because they had realised I struggled in that room and had already sorted it without me prompting them, which is such a different experience from what I was used to at my secondary school. We had to fight tooth and nail to get them to just stop picking in class, so can you imagine the fuss they would have thrown up if I asked to swap rooms!? It would have been completely out of the question.
I know I’ve gone on for a while now, so I’ll try to stop rambling, but I did want to talk about the trip I went on on Wednesday too. We went to Cambridge for the day to get some photos for our second unit – Street Photography. I personally really like street photography and Cambridge, so I was quite excited about this, but also very anxious since this was the first trip I was going on with the college, so it was unknown ground. I will admit that I got quite panicking towards the end of the day, mostly just because I was tired. The more things that are ‘wrong’ the more I’m susceptible to sensory overload and panic attacks, so being Hangry, tired, having my feet hurt like hell from all the walking and being cold was just a little too much. They handled it really well again though and they let me sit by myself on the bus so I wasn’t crowded, which is yet another thing that my school never let me do.
I don’t go in on Thursday’s, so the last day I was in college at the time of writing this was Friday, which saw the start of another new unit! We started Unit 3 on Friday, which is a bit of a different unit that is going to run along side all the others up until Easter and it is all about art history. At the moment this Unit is a little tedious because we are starting from just after the Romans took over, which is obviously a very long time ago and means that all of the art is sort of crap (in my opinion) and also 100% religious, which does not interest me at all. Hopefully as we go through history to slightly more recent times, it’ll get a bit more interesting, but at the moment, it is pretty mind-numbing.
So that is how the last few weeks have gone! By the time you read this, I will be half way through week 5 and a mere 2 days away from half term, which is completely ridiculous! In conclusion though, I am LOVING college because I have so much more independence and yet the staff and other students actually are always there to support me in any way. All I have to do is ask! 😊 Even though I haven’t been doing loads of new stuff yet, I did expect that because I knew I was much further ahead of everyone, but the we’ve finished the into unit now, so hopefully things will get more interesting and I might get to try something new!
I’m planning to change up the way I post on here as well, so you may be seeing some of what I’m doing at college as I go from now on, so if you’re interested in what I’m doing at college and my photography then make sure you subscribe to my blog via email (in the side bar on the right) so you don’t miss anything! I also have a photography Instagram if you want to see what I’m doing on a more day to day basis: @thephotographydragon
How has your new School/College/Uni term been going? If you’re not in school then tell me one thing you’d love to go back to school to learn!
Goodbye for now!
Over and Out