Chris Jowers
In 2004 I began an Access course at Stevenson College Edinburgh at the age of 29.
Just before that I was based in Madrid working in music production. I had a good life and earned good money, however, I did not want to work in production for the rest of my life. At the age of 18 I chose not to pursue further studies and thus had no qualifications. After a trip to China in 2002 I fell in love with the country, its people and its language, and thought it would be interesting to study Chinese during my spare time. I soon came to the realization that if I ever wanted to acquire a decent level I would have to study full time, and thus began my search for a University that offered a good program in Chinese.
One thing led to another, and within 4 months I found myself in Edinburgh. Amongst all the universities in Europe, Edinburgh University was the one that offered the best choice. Its program seemed serious and it involved one year living in China. When I contacted them to find out what qualifications I needed in order to be accepted to the course, they told me I had to do an Access course, which was provided by Stevenson College. I got in touch with them and got accepted to the Access program.
The beginning of the year was hard, since I had to face all my demons and ghosts from past experience as a student. Moreover, since I had not lived in the UK for a minimum of three years I was not eligible for a student loan, which meant I had to find work. Within a few months, and with the support of teachers and relatives I found myself in a routine of studying, working, and exercising. The year flew by and in no time I was filling in the UCAS application form. The course proved fantastic and the teachers made me believe I could become a student once again, and enjoy myself in the process.
In June 2009 I graduated from Edinburgh University with a MA (Hons) in Chinese and am now working for HarperCollins as a translator from Chinese into English.
Looking back, without a doubt the Access course was one of the best things I have ever done. In the end of the day it is up to you how much work you put into it, and there were some amongst our year who worked less than others, and thus were not able to cope with the workload that is required at University.
I very strongly encourage anyone wanting to take on an Access course to give it a go. There is nothing more satisfactory than graduating after a 5-year project and a lot of hard work. It was well worth it and I would do it all over again if I had to, starting at Stevenson College.
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