In 2015, I wrote a blog about my experience of being at university with a liver condition. However, when I wrote that blog, I was only coming to the end of my first year. But, I have now just graduated, and I believe that my third year at university has equipped me with much more wisdom about getting through university with a liver transplant. Because of this, I thought that now would be a perfect time to write an up to date blog about my final year as an undergraduate at Lancaster and why I now feel ready to face anything the universe has to throw at me.
Whilst my first and second years at university were pretty much plain sailing in terms of health, it was towards the end of my final year as an undergrad that I began to experience some bumps in the road (and trust me, this was the worst time for this to happen as I was nearing the deadline for my dissertation and exam season was fast approaching). I was being hit with infections left, right and centre, combined with bouts of sickness and blood tests that weren’t up to scratch for the first time in years. This obviously caused some concern for me as I had to repeatedly travel home for doctor’s appointments and blood tests which meant missing time at university on top of the stress of having a 10,000-word dissertation to complete and revising for exams that would determine my final grade. It was at this time that I realised that I had not yet spoken to the university or my academic department about my liver transplant since moving in three years ago and trust me, it is now something that I wish I had done much sooner. And so, one piece of advice that I would strongly recommend taking on board, is talking to your university and department about your circumstances as soon as possible so that they are able to support you in times of need. I didn’t think that I needed to tell them because I am lucky enough that I rarely experience complications but having to explain everything for the first time when I let things get on top of me and needed quick support made things much more stressful. This experience taught me that it’s better to be safe than sorry and it’s more beneficial to let people be there for you when you first begin to feel like you are struggling. I wish that I had spoken out sooner rather than letting things build up and only asking for help when I really need it and had no other choice. Luckily, my department and university wellbeing officers were brilliant, and I was able to talk openly about what I was dealing with and they allowed me extensions and mitigating circumstances for my assessments.
Despite these complications, third year at Lancaster was still a defining year for me. Third year was most definitely my favourite year of all three. I had gotten myself into a bit of a rut during my first and second year meaning that outside of lectures, I spent very little time with friends and tended to have a negative outlook on life. However, in my third year, that all changed. Not only did my social life significantly improve, but so did my academic life. I made a whole new bunch of friends and engaged much more in social activity outside of lectures. Not only this, I met my now girlfriend and the relationships I had with old friends became much more positive. This fresh perspective on life not only reflected in my social and personal life, but also my academic life. My passion for the subject flourished as I was able to learn about new topics and explore old ones in greater depths. Third year can be a very daunting years as students are faced with the prospect of writing a dissertation and I shared a similar dread at the thought of having to write a 10,000-word project. However, I surprised myself when I finally handed in my dissertation and realised that it was something that I had quite enjoyed. My dissertation focused on the relationship between the police and social media and I managed to achieve an A-. I also took part in a new module called ‘Learning Together’ which presented me with the opportunity to work alongside the prisoners at the local prison. We made weekly visits to ‘learn together’ with the prisoners there in the form of lecture and seminar-based sessions. This was a brilliant opportunity and I am grateful that I decided to push myself to do it and it is something that I will never forget.
Author Emma Pease