Group of Army figurines.

University and the Army

Imagine trying to lead two lives at University, you’d feel a lot like Hannah Montana, right? Well, that’s exactly what I am doing, except I’m not a famous teen pop-star by night. Instead, for over a year now I’ve been in the Army Reserves. 

When I tell people that I’m in the army, they always ask questions like “are you scared?”, “what’s it like”, “what do you do” or “how do you juggle everything?”And I have answers, I do.

The thing with being in the army whilst at university is that it’s not as hard as it may seem. Some nights, I am training to be a soldier, and most days I’m studying to become a journalist. Two very opposite career paths I know, but it’s surprisingly easy to maintain, and essentially very fun to do.

I train every Wednesday evening here in Lincoln and surprisingly this doesn’t distract from my normal everyday life, if anything it’s a benefit – it helps with my fitness… a lot. Training with the Army allows me to become a fitter and overall stronger person, mentally and physically. It also allows me to become more engaged with everything that’s around me and focus better because really you have no choice.

Balancing university with training poses no significant difficulties – however, say push comes to shove and a year or two from now a deployment is on the cards, well that’s a whole new blog story for you.

The good thing about the relationship with the army and university is that people are more understanding when you need time away, for example, if I got deployed on exercise (a fake deployment) it is not like taking time off because of a cold – which makes my attendance a whole lot better.

Another influence is in my writing, I enjoy writing about things military-related, because it’s something I have knowledge about and enthusiasm in, and it can sometimes cause for an interesting read…

July 15th, out on an exercise, to an undisclosed location with my previous regiment – it’s  a memory I never will forget.

For some, this is far removed from what they’d call fun, digging trenches in scorching heats for hours on end, but to me it is… sort of.

We travelled 3 hours by coach from Kent (where I am from) and arrived at the location at 02:00 am. Day one consisted of treks – we carried a total of 45kg of weight on our backs, and trekked uphill, downhill, on mud, sand, grass – on all sorts of terrain. This was to help us get used to carrying our Bergan’s (rucksack) – If I’m honest, that was something I hated – it’s mentally and physically draining, but I understood why I had to do it.

We also learnt how to survive in woodland/forest grounds, setting up for sleep, cooking with ration packs, as well as lessons on the basics of camouflage, and how not to be seen, day and night. Those were the things I loved learning.

We also spent hours upon hours digging trenches for a night raid, I remember almost passing out multiple times from the heat. Dressed in full kit, it was hard, but exciting too – knowing what was to come…

And what was to come is something I’ll hold onto for another day.