Friday, 15 July 2011

Back on track, my last two years...

After a difficult two years in Salford my original target has finally been achieved and my University career can finally take off (pun intended!).

In 2008 I watched all of my friends pack their bags and set off for the four corners of Britain where one by one they would eventually start to forget about the small town they'd left behind. In high school, I remember a teacher saying to me that in 10 years time I would be lucky if I still spoke to just 2 of the people I was sat in that same classroom with in 2006. I remember thinking at the time that she was talking absolute nonsense and that my group of friends were unbreakable. Having said that, they packed their bags. I signed on the dole.

At the time, my heart was set on flying commercially but I was determined to go about it the least academically demanding way possible. I would constantly hear my father say "You're always wanting to take the easy way out, the easy route, the easy life." I could never fully get my head around this, what was easy about working in a full time job whilst saving up large amounts of money to learn to fly? What was so easy about doing your ATPL via the modular route rather than fighting it out for the few (part) sponserships available? The answer is that none of these things are easy, but that wasnt his point.

I was never really enthusiastic about school and as a result my studies suffered. I never 'skived off' or disrupted a classroom, but I was lazy and I was unmotivated. Some would blame the school, some would blame my family cirumstances at the time but I would blame myself. I've always been a firm believer of the fact that you learn your own lessons in life. To do this, you have to learn from your mistakes and you'll never do that until you finally accept that you've made them.

I might have painted the picture slightly worse than it actually was, but that depends on which way you look at it. I left sixth form with 2 A-Levels which to some would be a life changing achievement. In terms on Higher Education, it's not so groundbreaking, if I were to study any sort of Aviation based course I would have to study an access course first, I wasnt happy.

Back to 2008 when I was unemployed. 5 months went by and the job seeking was becoming more soul destroying by the day and I was suffering as a result. My usual optimism was ruined and I was starting to wonder whether I'd have to seek employment loading suitcases onto aircraft to work in my chosen industry. In March, a company called Derichebourg phoned me offering me employment cleaning aircraft cabins. It was exactly what I was hoping for, full time and airside at Newcastle Airport. I enjoyed the job and I made some good friends, but it wasnt sustainable as a means of funding flight training, I had to do something fast.

In August I was still working the night shift and thouroughly enjoying it but the Aviation industry is cruel, and I was staring down the barrel of redundancy. As soon as the schools go back theres no call for the level of staffing the summer season usually requires. In October, seasonal contracts are terminated. I couldnt face going back on the dole, so I considered everything. One morning after work, I stepped off the metro and instead of heading for my house, my bed, sleep... I headed toward my old school. "Mr. Williamson, I need your help with UCAS, I'm applying again" It was a call that in the end made itself, there was no way I could carry on like the way I was, inbetween jobs, no real future. I was going to University after all. I worked out my notice at Derichebourg and although I was a year late, I packed my bags with and left for the North West. I was to study a Physics foundation year before progressing onto Aviation Technology.

I had settled in nicely in my 6th floor halls of residance flat. I had made some good friends and I was enjoying my independence. I thought it was the life changing experience I needed to get myself back on track towards my career as a pilot and it was, for the first month or two. With independance becomes responsibilty and you can do whatever you want with it, as much or as little. I had became absorbed in the lifestyle that is so often highlighted in the nations press associated with modern day university students. I can't remember when it happened but suddenly, having a good time became a higher priority than turning up to lectures, to revising for exams. I have to admit, I did enjoy it alot of the time but ultimately I paid the price for this lifestyle choice. I failed.

This hit me hard, I never wanted to study the Foundation Year in the first place. I wanted to study Aviation Technology with Pilot Studies. My A-Level results were the problem. I was faced with a problem. How is this failed year going to look on a CV? I had no real choice. I had to re-do the year and I had to pass.

The following academic year. I moved into a shared student house with a few flatmates and friends. I have two sets of friends at univeristy, my party friends and my friends. I had the option of moving in with my party friends, but what would be the point in that? I might as well of packed my bags and travelled back to Newcastle.

I joined the badminton club and was quickly made captain. This was vital at the time as it was focusing my attention on something more worthwhile than night clubbing. Around that time, ironically in a nightclub I met the girl who was to months later become my girlfriend. I had certainly started this academic year the way I meant to carry on.

I passed my first semester, everything was going to plan. My badminton team werent doing so well in the league tables but I was still enjoying playing, the new friends, the socials, the feeling of being part of something. I wasnt enjoying the company in the house as much as anticipated but this was something I was able to overlook.

In February, arranged to meet up with the girl I met in the club back in September, I had been punched a couple of times in a needless attack and she had helped me on the night. We ended up staying in touch. We'd been talking every now and then, I was keen to meet her face to face once again. I was nervous and sceptical but we got on so well on the first day that we spent the following week in each others company. That sunday evening, she was my girlfriend.

Hannah was the final piece in my puzzle, the cherry on the cake that brought me total happiness and I'm glad to say that I'm madly in love with this girl. In the last week I've also been informed that I've passed this year and as of September will be studying BSc Aviation Technology with Pilot Studies.

As I've said, you learn your own lessons in life. You only move forward if you make mistakes and the last 2/3 years of my life have proved it. Of course I've had help from my parents along the way which I appreciate, I couldnt have done it without my Mum and Dad.

When you've hit rock bottom you certainly never want to be there again and I certainly feel now that when I say "I'm going to fly commercially" I will be taken seriously, I won't be lauged at. Because I've proved to myself and to the people around me that I can achieve anything I set my heart on. This post may look to people that I've done nothing with my life, but I disagree because the life experience I have gained is priceless.

I am a student at the University of Salford, I am the captain of the badminton team, I am a team leader at Mint Staffing Solutions, I am a loving son, uncle and boyfriend with a loving family and girlfriend and I am a trainee pilot.

I am currently in Newcastle for the summer but for once I am wishing the summer away. Bring on September because my life begins then...

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