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Features / Nerves and excitement for fresher’s students

Diana Inkster, 18, is feeling "excited but nervous" about setting off to study dentistry in Glasgow.

IT’S THE time of year when IKEA does a brisk trade in cheap and chic bed throws and supermarkets around the country are crammed with sad eyed parents helping their teenage off-spring to stack their trollies with pasta and tomato sauce.

Young Shetlanders who are moving South to study at college or university on the mainland know that they will have to adapt to some significant lifestyle changes. Genevieve White spoke to freshers Joe Watt and Diana Inkster in order to gauge how they’re feeling about making the big move.

Local musician Joe Watt of First Foot Soldiers and Troppo Funk is leaving Shetland to study commercial music at the University of West Scotland in Ayr. Joe is feeling “really excited” about the coming year: “I can’t really describe my emotions because I’m not sure it’s quite hit me yet”.

Joe’s chosen course covers sound engineering, music and the music business. He is keeping his options open as he is not yet “exactly sure” what he wants to do.

Apart from being able to immerse himself in his music studies, Joe is also really looking forward to going to comedy clubs: “I love stand-up comedy and you rarely see it live in Shetland.”

Moving away from your community must be tough, especially when you occupy such a special place in its music scene. I ask Joe who and what he will miss the most:

“I don’t even need to mention anything about mam and home and cooked meals and washed clothes.  My folks are incredible and I’m obviously going to miss them tonnes.”

Joe also talks fondly of his gigs in the Legion and “Shetland’s techie team” Stevie Hook and Amanda Pearson. “It’s going to take a bit of adjusting to not being able to go along to them until I get back – they’re such incredible human beings and the best friends I’ve made up here”.

And what of the challenges which university studies and independent living might bring? “The biggest challenge for me this year will be the same challenge that I will face for the rest of my life – trying to make a living from my creativity and flying by the seat of my pants”.

Talented local musician Joe Watt is excited to be studying music in Ayr, but admits he'll miss his folks "tonnes".

Being apart from his girlfriend, Beef Cleaver singer, Claire Thomason will also be tough: “When I’m away I’ll obviously always be really looking forward to getting back through to Glasgow when I’m not at college or working to see Claire – being an hour on the train away from her is going to suck.”

Eighteen year old Diana Inkster is about to embark on five years of dentistry study at Glasgow University and Glasgow dental college.  She admits to having mixed feelings about her move: “I’ve been really excited but as it approaches I’m starting to get quite nervous!”

She has always wanted to do something “a bit medical” but was put off studying medicine by the long working hours of junior doctors. Enjoyable and successful work experience placements with private and NHS dentists in Shetland prompted her to consider dentistry as an option.

Some might feel daunted at the prospect of studying such an academically demanding discipline, but Diana seems relaxed about this side of things:

“I took three advanced highers last year so that really helped me learn to manage my time and learn a bit more independently. What’s more nerve wracking for me is the thought of moving out of the quite closed social circle we were in at school.”

Diana was accepted by dental colleges in both Dundee and Glasgow but finally plumped for the latter: “I thought I’d go for something really different from Shetland – Glasgow is a really big city – you couldn’t get much more different!” She is hoping to enjoy an even wider choice of sports and activities than she enjoys in Shetland: “I might try volleyball…or maybe cheerleading!”

She is also looking forward to experiencing the buzz of 18 September in Scotland’s largest city: “I’m really hoping for a Yes vote and I think it will be an amazing atmosphere there if this happens.”

Diana will be staying in self-catered halls for the first year. Asked about her ability to produce grub on a budget she smiles:  “I’ll be eating more beans on toast than I’m used to. But I’ll get better, I suppose.” Apart from eating well, what will the other challenges be?

“I think I might struggle being away from my family and friends. Not a lot of my close friends are going to Glasgow, although my uncle’s there so that might help.”

It’s not just family and friends Diana will miss though – it’s life in a small community. “I’ll miss walking down the street and everyone saying “hi”. And when you go out you know exactly who you’re going to meet. That’ll be really different.”

Genevieve White