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St Clares University Fair

Posted: 17th October 2017

We wandered in to St Clare’s, the small house that I walk past twice a day to get to school, but had never realised it was hidden network of corridors, courtyards and classrooms and buzzing with people. In an international school in which I had never been, hearing languages I’d never heard I began to feel like a foreigner in this new environment. Amongst the hustle bustle a few words had been said, responded to, agreed with and before I knew it everyone had scuttled off to their destinations and I was standing in what felt like a large clearing, considering the imbalance of students and the actual size of the premises, trying to figure out what my time table was trying to say. I couldn’t quite work it out so I thought I should turn to a lady behind me holding a door open with a blue tag round her neck, some sort of indication of authority, but before a single syllable has come out of my mouth she points and snaps, “This door is for exits only,”

“Oh, I don’t want to go in I just want to ask…”

“Sorry, exit only.” I gaze at her arm and follow to see where she is pointing. A door, but two metres away that leads to the exact same room, but seen as she wasn’t going to budge I make my way. I arrive at the door, this time unguarded, walk round to where I had previously been with the lady, only this time on the other side of the door frame.

“Hello, I was just wondering I you knew where D block is?”

“Exits only,” presuming there must have been some misunderstanding I step out of the door towards her and repeat what I had said but she said that there are just more stands and it’s the same as what was in the room we were next to so I may as well see this one first. I nod and thank her for the help and step backwards into the room. “Exit only,” she glares at me once again.


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So, despite the fact that I had not yet actually been to a lecture or talked to any of the people at university stands I had already learnt the importance of time management, organisation, being able to understand timetables and how to persist when asking questions if you are stuck and don’t know the answer, all of which are good transferable skills for going to places such as university. So, to some extent you could argue I had got off on the right foot; but then I had failed to do these things and only learnt about them, meaning I got off on the wrong foot. Or they were good to learn about, but those skills were just not yet needed and so I was just a couple feet ahead of my selves. But wherever my feet were, I just had to make sure that they were on the right side of the door frame because, it’s an exit only.

After wondering about, filling in a couple email forms ,having people ask me ‘what subjects are you doing?’ ‘what are you doing after A levels’ and every time I said I don’t know what I want to do the answer was ‘don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Take a gap year and find yourself,’ and feeling like a record on repeat because all conversations appeared to follow the same format it was finally time for my first lecture and I found myself; in not one, but two lectures about gap years. Following the many statistics of where people go on gap years, how good it looks on a CV and some pictures of koalas I had found, not myself, but that fact that I am starting to consider a gap year. Where? I don’t know. When? I don’t know. But the university fair definitely showed me why. Being someone that always take the scenic route, is always up for an adventure and whose map reading skills are far better than my timetable reading skills it seems like a good place for me to start when I finish Wychwood.

However, I don’t believe that I have to ‘find myself,’ because I’m already here. The university fair only reminded me of my hunger to find out more about the world, to travel and get to learn about different cultures so maybe if for some reason I ever come back to St Clare’s, possibly even to talk about my gap year, I won’t feel so much as a foreigner in an international school; but I’ll feel like a person who can understand the cultures of those around me and have more of an appreciation for them. That’s if they’ve changed the ‘exit only,’ sign of course, or I won’t have much of a chance of getting in.

Heather Fitzgerald