In the latter half of 2015, I began a degree in Digital Media Arts at the University of Surrey. This was not only the beginning of another academic course for me but also the onset of a new journey which involved living in a new area, being surrounded by new people and having new opportunities.
It’s taken me a while to get here, but I feel like I’m finally happy now. I’m finally on the right track.
I’ve dealt with troubles at school and college, I’ve dealt with the loneliness and confusion of being a gay teenager, I’ve dealt with taking care of the house and the dog for a year on my own while my parents moved to Singapore for work and I’ve dealt with all the regular stresses and struggles of teenage life too.
Not to mention, I did that all whilst living in sleepy old Suffolk – a big county with nothing in it. So, I’ve dealt with poor public transport, I’ve dealt with slow broadband, I’ve dealt with a lack of services, shops and nightlife. All of these things have limited me.
Sure, it’s a pretty area and I have good friends in Suffolk, but it is not the place for me. I’ve spent far too many nights at home, alone, on my phone/laptop with nothing to do because everyone and everything is too damn far away. I’m fed up of swapping between the same old tabs and the same old apps, refreshing and refreshing things that don’t even matter when I could be out living life to its full potential.
I lived in Suffolk for just over a decade and while it’s still my actual home (I’m back for Christmas currently), that’s all in the past.
I now live in Guildford, Surrey (for the majority of the time).
Maybe Guildford isn’t that big of a city compared to London, Manchester or Birmingham, but it has everything I need. There’s plenty of shops, nightlife, places to eat and things to do. Heck, Domino’s even delivers here! It’s glorious.
I’m so close to London here too. Which, while expensive, is fantastic. I’m yet to go out and stay out in London until the first train – an opportunity I didn’t have in Suffolk.
I’m so glad to be a student now, to have the feeling that I’m accomplishing something important, to have people and opportunities around me, to have my freedom – even if all that is going to stress me out. I’m glad to be going somewhere in life.
I’ve met a wonderful mix of people in my first few months in Surrey and I look forward to meeting more of them and making some really close friends here.
For the last few years, I’ve looked at life as if it were a box of Lego bricks, and when you’re a teenager those bricks get jumbled and thrown up in the air. Now it feels like the bricks are finally starting to fall into place.
Over the summer and latter half of the year, everything else fell nicely into place.
I made a "Worry List" about a year ago. There is well over 100 things on there. They're all irrelevant now. It really does get better!
— James Pratters 🏳️🌈 (@JamesPratters) September 19, 2015
This is not to say I’m without problems. I expected Guildford to be a bit bigger and sometimes find it a little quiet compared to what my friends have in bigger cities like Bristol – particularly for nightlife, my course has only been running for 2 years and there’s plenty that could be improved there (too much art theory!), getting Freshers flu was the absolute worst and I’ve not fully found my place here in Surrey yet, but I’m getting there. It’s getting better and I’m going places. I’m moving on to bigger things.
Want to see some of the projects I’ve been working on during my first semester at the University of Surrey? Check out my portfolio.