My name is Chloe and I have a Cochlear Implant. I am currently in first year at University of Hull studying Social Work. I have been asked to write about my experience at university, how I got here and how I’m finding it.

First off, you have to apply to up to five different universities with a personal statement about you and why you want to study the degree. This is not easy, I will tell you this. If you get the right support from your teachers, tutors, parents or mentors, you’ll be fine.

Social Work was not my first option of choice that I wanted to do when applying to universities. I was really set with Mental Health Nursing, that was until I went to an Open Day in Hull. Open day is where you get to visit many different universities to get a “feel” of being a university student and have a taster session of a course you want to study. If you are thinking about going to university, I’d suggest you go to open days to see which university will suit you best.

When I went to Hull for an open day, I felt right at home. I went to a building to find a room where the ‘Mental Health Nursing’ taster session was. I went into the room and sat down waiting for people to come in. Once it started, I realised that I was in the wrong room because the taster session wasn’t about Mental Health Nursing, it was Social Work instead. I felt bad if I left in the middle of it, so I stayed. However, I’m glad that I’ve stayed because this was when I realised the course was much better for me. So, I decided that I wanted to do Social Work instead and started to apply to universities I wanted to go to. When applying to universities, I had to be sure that these universities were right for me in terms of accommodation, lectures, seminars and most importantly, the support.

Now, being at university has completely changed me as a person in terms of confidence and independence. I’m living on campus, so I had to learn to be independent myself with no support of friends or family, but just strangers in your flat. At first, it was really hard because I had no idea who everyone was or how to fit in because my flatmates were all hearing. I’ve learnt to try to put myself out there and start talking to people to try and make friends. Two months in, I finally made a great couple of friends who I talk to all the time, by text, phone or in person.

Meeting people for the first time is hard, but we have to remember that you are not alone. Everyone will be feeling the same as you because they don’t know anyone either. Just try to put yourself out there as early as you can and join societies too. It is okay to say “I’m deaf, is it possible if you can face me when you are talking to me”.

I felt like I didn’t receive enough support at the beginning. I raised my concerns and the disability services went out of their way to try to provide extra support for me. If you feel like something isn’t working, do not be afraid to say something. In my case, I asked to change support tutor because I felt like it wasn’t working for me. They didn’t mind to change and were not offended. If something isn’t working, say something. You can get as much support as you want to meet your needs. It could be getting a notetaker, a support tutor to check over your assignments, speak to your lecturer about your assignments, receive a radio aid or get an interpreter. There is so much support out there if you ask, including your accommodation needs (fire alarms, flashing lights).

I have lecturers and seminars every week. A lecture is a large room filled with over 40 to 200 people, depending on the subject where one person talks and students take notes. Seminars are a much smaller interactive group which involve between 5 to 20 people. I find both of them fine with the support I have. I don’t start placement until second year, but there is some support in place if you can’t use the phone, radio aids and recorders are given to you.

I knew I wanted to go to university because I wanted to gain knowledge about working with children and adults. I work in a Residential Care Home and volunteer as much as I can with Lollipop. From a young age, I’ve always wanted to work with people, especially with mental health as I suffer with it myself so I can relate and try to help them manage it.