Diary of a Student: My First Year at Falmouth
So that’s it. Just like that it’s over, almost as quickly as it began. My first year of studying English with Creative Writing at Falmouth University has officially come to a close.
As I reflect upon the poignant yet somewhat stressful memory of hauling the entirety of my belongings across the country—all the way from Stirling, my hometown in Central Scotland, to Falmouth, Cornwall at the very bottom of the UK—strangely, it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago. My recollection of being dropped off at my student accommodation back in September is as almost vivid as the moment itself, and those initial feelings of anxious anticipation mixed in amongst a burning sense of excitement continue to resonate with me today. Despite feeling as though the extent of this year has progressed at such a rapid pace, I am deeply appreciative of the time I have spent studying here at Falmouth so far and the fact that it has been so utterly valuable; a catalyst for refining my personal and academic growth.
Throughout this year, I challenged myself, persistently, making sure that I stayed true to who I am; passionate about my creative discipline. As a result of this, not only have I noticed a very apparent development in terms of my versatilely as a writer, but also my overall sense of self and general outlook upon the world around me has undoubtedly enhanced to a great extent.
Due to the fact that the school system is vastly different in Scotland, I actually arrived at university when I was seventeen, three days before my eighteenth birthday. Evidently, as one would, I found this slightly intimidating. I was barely an adult living amongst incredibly creative and talented individuals, who were perhaps equipped with a greater knowledge of life in comparison to me. In the run up to starting university, the prospect of potentially being the youngest person enrolled on my course was incredibly nerve-wracking. Yet contrary to this, when I actually arrived, I couldn’t have felt more welcome. I felt like a valid part of a creative community, one in which I wasn’t afraid to express my voice.
As much as I would like to, it would be seemingly impossible to reflect upon the whole of my first year at university, so here are some of my personal highlights, along with insight into what I have obtained from these valuable experiences.
My writing improved.
Despite already being an avid writer prior to arriving at Falmouth, I wasn’t always entirely comfortable with my writing ability. I had so many ideas which I so desired to express yet, they often felt confined within my mind as I found it difficult to articulate them without resorting to the use of overly complex vocabulary and syntax. I know from first-hand experience that using lengthy words and complicated descriptions may feel like a strong attribute to the aesthetic of the piece yet, it’s important to recognise that they are not always needed. You can still depict something very effectively with just as much depth through the use of simpler phrases.
In the first semester, I was asked to write a piece that followed a very particular brief as part of my ‘Writing Toolkit’ module. This brief appeared to be relatively open to interpretation, requiring me to write about anything I liked, whether that be conveyed through fiction or non-fiction. It could in any format and in the genre of my choice. However, the catch was it couldn’t contain any adverbs or adjectives. Initially, the entire prospect of sticking to this brief seemed like my worst nightmare as a writer. How could I possibly present an effective narrative without the use of extensive, in-depth descriptions?
For a task which immediately struck me as being far too obscure for me to complete to a high quality, I found it surprisingly enjoyable. Despite the challenges which arose within my writing process, I eventually reached a point where I felt satisfied with the quality of my work and therefore decided to submit it as part of my assessed portfolio. In the end, it achieved a first, showing me that maintaining any form of success stems from stepping away from your comfort-zone. Overall, I learnt that sometimes the power behind a piece of writing arises from the authenticity of the underlying concept as opposed to decorative flourishes.
In the long run, this exercise thoroughly enriched the flow and readability of my work, altering my attitudes towards the initial writing process in a very positive way. Now if I am ever in doubt, I consistently refer back to the creative process behind this piece, reminding myself that sometimes the simplest descriptions can evoke the most poignancy.
My voice can be heard.
As an introverted individual, finding a comfortable way to speak my mind has always been rather complicated. In high school, despite the fact that I had a lot to contribute to group discussions, never once did I express my opinions in front of the class.
Seminars at Falmouth present a relaxed and inclusive space to share and engage with each other’s thoughts and opinions, something which I have found vastly opposing to the somewhat intense atmosphere within the classroom environment that I experienced throughout my time at school. In all of my first year classes, people never failed to respect and listen to each other’s contributions and this ensured that every voice was treated with equal validation. It felt like we were not only learning from our lecturers but we were also learning from each other, which is amazing when you’re constantly surrounded by awe-inspiring creative talent.
Aside from the numerous opportunities for self-articulation in class, this year I have also been enabled to voice my opinions and ideas in alternative ways. Writing as part of the FalWriting team is a prime example of this. It has allowed me to explore an extensive range of topics, which previously I had never considered with such depth, whilst projecting my personal thoughts, feelings and experiences surrounding them across to a wider audience. My first piece and one which I will continue to take pride in, focused on mental health, and more specifically, mental health at university; a topic which can never be reinforced enough. After finalizing that article, I felt an immense sense of emotional release, one which I can still recall so vividly. Years of feeling invalid due to my own experiences with mental health had suddenly been expelled from my mind. I had said everything that I wanted to say. My writing experience was not only interesting and insightful but also vastly therapeutic. It presented me with the platform to reach out to numerous others who may potentially benefit from my insight and experience and that in itself is hugely rewarding.
Inspiring people are everywhere.
I cannot articulate exactly how refreshing it feels to work alongside like-minded creative individuals. Being able to collaborate and conjure up new ideas with extremely talented writers has honestly been the highlight of my university experience so far. After getting to know people on my course, my initial worries surrounding being slightly younger than everyone else completely diminished. Being at university has taught me that age and background doesn’t actually matter when you are surrounded by a group of people who share the same level of passion as you. Here, passion is what brings people together.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year at Falmouth University, and as I prepare to face exciting changes such as moving into a new house along with the move to the Falmouth Campus in September, I looked forward to what the future holds in second year.
by Amber Martin.