James Pugh
Access to Languages
When I left school I became a mechanic thinking this was what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. However after nearly four years of working as a mechanic I soon tired of doing the same thing day in day out.

I returned to Stevenson College and studied travel and tourism with languages which I really liked, and went on to work in the industry the following year. I worked three summer seasons in Ibiza and two winter seasons in Tenerife which I thoroughly enjoyed. I then moved to Galicia where I lived for five years and was introduced to many different languages and cultures.
On my return to Britain I went straight to work as a mechanic only to find I still hated the job. I visited my old tutor at Stevenson College not really knowing what I wanted to do. When she told me about the access course I went back to work that very same day and handed in my notice to the boss.
The access course was tough going, but really prepared us for our future at university. The emphasis on study skills, i.e. setting a plan for studying and sticking to it was essential and still is the most important thing we learned from the access course; there is nobody to tell you or remind you that essays are due at university so you have to be independent.
I was not interested in academic studies whilst at school and left without sitting any exams. This was partly due to going straight in to an apprenticeship as a Mechanic and the fact i was dyslexic which has only just been picked up. I never had any problems reading or writing but I did have problems retaining new information. I always thought I had a bad memory, but it was actually a learning difficulty. The university put me through some tests and I had to see an educational psychiatrist, but finally after 31 years my learning difficulty has been diagnosed and I now have the software and support to help me achieve my full potential.
SWAP East was great as they not only gave us information on the courses but also organized visits to the universities and enabled us to talk to students in different stages of their degrees. This helped us in making the right choices and deciding which university best suited our needs. In my first year I have come across many school leavers who did not have access to this kind of information and have left within their first year to try and obtain places in other universities the year after.
I am now finishing my second year at university and looking forward to going back to Spain in my third year as part of my degree.
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