How have you been spending your summer holidays?
I started my summer by travelling around bits of Europe. We went to Berlin, Budapest and a few different places in Croatia. I also just went on a mission trip to Romania. We were working with a Romanian team of people sharing the good news. We were working with underprivileged children running a camp for them: teaching the Bible, delivering food packages and visiting different houses in the area – just generally serving the community. These things were a helpful distraction. I think it’s helped keeping active and busy, and seeing friends has been good.
What have you been studying?
I’ve been studying French, Spanish, Maths and Physics A-levels at a school near Oxford. It was very different to my old school – very different types of people – which was quite an adjustment. I found the journey exhausting but it was worth it. I really enjoyed it. I loved French and Spanish but not Physics. I enjoyed the stuff for Physics but just not studying it for A-level. I only really took it to keep my teachers happy.
What are you hoping to do after?
No idea really. I think I’m going to take a gap year and go abroad for a bit. I’d like to do something with languages in the future so I might work in France and Spain for a bit next year. I also want to do a bit of voluntary or mission work; hopefully I’ll go back to Romania for a bit and maybe India. I might possibly go to university, but I might not. I think, basically, I’m waiting to see what God has in store for me and I’ll take it from there really.
You are leaving this conversation to go straight to results, right? How are you feeling about it?
Yeah, I’m driving there after this. Erm… terrified. I’m slightly scared. I’ve managed to convince myself that anything is OK because God’s got my back. But, I’m still terrified.
Have you received much advice from people you know?
Not a huge amount of advice. I’ve had some encouraging words, saying: “it’ll be fine”. But that’s the extent, really. They haven’t told me things that I completely believe: things like “you’ll be fine!” No thank you. Talking to friends has been more helpful. It’s helpful to gauge how normal my feelings are compared to my friends. They seem to feel exactly the same way as I do. It’s comforting talking to friends as they are going through the same thing. I think it’s also nice talking to people that have done it recently and have been through it already.
How has your faith impacted you in the past year?
I really think it would have been a lot more difficult without faith. I’ve pretty much spent all of my life in school. I have essentially been working towards these exams for quite a long time! So there could have been quite a build-up of stress and pressure but I think knowing that it’s in God’s hands and his will and not mine has been comforting. If things don’t go the way I think I want them to, that’s not necessarily a bad thing because, you know, God will have something good in store.
Has this been different to your non-Christian friends?
Hugely different. They very much think their life will end today. Actually it’s quite hard to tell them that, you know, everything is going to be ok. I think they are struggling a lot more with it because they don’t have that confidence in something else.
Have you been able to share your faith in this?
I’m not hugely good at that actually because I’m a very non-confrontational person. When people suggest any other argument I, sort of, sit there and think: “You’re definitely wrong but I don’t have any strong arguments in return.”
What advice would you give to families and churches supporting people at school, especially around results day?
I think it’s important that people know that there are other options and that actually it can be a wonderful blessing because you can look for things that you never thought about before; just supporting people in making new and different decisions when things don’t go to plan would be good. For people that haven’t really experienced faith, it’s good to let those people try and understand the significance of exams. But in a way of saying that actually they’re really not as important as everyone makes you think they are.
What has been your experience of Christian schools’ work?
My school has this thing called Crossfire. I went when I was in year 12. There were about six year 8s and they were all being very odd so I left immediately. I think this is quite a pattern. It was the same thing in my old school. The kids in that CU were a bit older but it was the same thing. The people were lovely, but definitely a bit strange. I think the CUs are very much student run, which means that sometimes I would turn up and there would be some people in the year above me talking about biscuits and playing strange games like ‘Ninja’. It didn’t seem to have a huge focus towards God. I guess it’s nice to share fellowship with other Christian people but it seemed extremely structure-less. Maybe they need more adult influence to try and encourage people to reflect on God and think about it, maybe a Bible study, that sort of thing.