Student across the UK are about to confront the dreaded build up to A-levels examinations. If this is your destiny the Easter holidays are something to be faced with a certain degree fear; but also eager anticipation of the beginning of the end of education as you know it.
I think A-levels are the most important exams that any student will take and if you can get through them and nail the grades you are indeed set up for life. But they come when you are weary from 14 years incarcerated in the education system, when you are feeling mature enough to fly the nest. Although, of course, the reality is that you are arrogant, naïve and innocent. Really you know nothing.
This time 22 years ago, I had yellow post it notes on my wall counting down the months until my departure to my Gap Year. A summer season working on the beaches in the South of France as a sailing instructor and then a winter in the Alps as a non-cooking chalet girl aka maid!
I laboured through the exams looking at the wall with desperation and slowly peeling the notes off one by one. Finally, it was over and the day came when I boarded the coach at Dover and headed to Vias Plage in the Languedoc region of France.
I arrived pallid and wide eyed. I was shown to my two man, shabby tent in the staff village of shabby, two man tents. We slept on rickety camp beds, with mattresses of cut foam, like giant cushions. The heat of the Mediterranean sun beat down and I felt timid and young. The new girl on the team. A tall man called Darren told all of us newbies that there was welcome drinks that night and that it was fancy dress. My rucksack full of t-shirts and shorts hadn't come prepared with fancy dress.
I had to make do and mend. I decided I would go as a Sandwich and scooped up the two foamies of foam cut to size with cutfoam covered with white plastic and tied them around my middle. They were my crusts and I was the filling. I didn't really look good enough to eat and of course, it was my first mistake as all the eager young bucks just thought I was a target for their lust, which had conveniently brought my bed with me.
It was the start of freedom and lessons. It was the beginning of my gap life. One summer on a beach wasn't enough. I ended up doing seven. Good luck to those A-level students studying this Easter. Hang in there and do your best. I promise you it's worth it in the end.
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