Head onto the official NCS website: http://www.ncsem1.org.uk/
My name is Bushra Jalil and recently I completed a whole month of adventure, challenges, new friendships and plenty of laughter with the National Citizen Service in Leicestershire.
I joined in the Summer of 2015 it was one of the best decisions I have made this year.Believe me – if you want YES to confidence, YES to meeting new people and YES to overcoming challenges and becoming the best person you can possibly be then YES to NCS is what you need!
It was genuinely more than I expected it to ever be and when I signed up less than a year ago, there were genuine fears and nerves I had, especially because I am quite an over thinker generally, and so it was quite a big step naturally for me to say YES. NCS may seem like a big challenge but now I look back I honestly don’t know what I was so worried about. In this post I will address some of the worries I had before NCS, and what I wish I knew back then.
1. You won’t be alone
The first two weeks are residential and an incredible experience. The first week involves staying at an outdoor pursuits centre, and the second is a university style experience in your home city. I was nervous, especially just before leaving but some of the major worries I had disappeared by the first day.
I felt worried and scared that I wouldn’t fit in. Would people accept me? Was I good enough? Could I spend the next four weeks with my group? But I completely forgot that these people are all on the same journey and experience as me, set to partake in the same activities and make a genuine difference.
Almost everyone felt the exact same way – even those with friends! It actually hits you as to how your mind controls you because as soon as I got onto the coach with my luggage to set off for the first week, the person behind me in the coach greeted me and, despite not being in the same group, we talked throughout NCS when we had the chance and became pretty close. I remember thinking ‘Wow, these people are too nice, it’s unbelievable’ – but it’s true! They are here for the same reasons as you are. You WILL have an amazing time, and meet people you never thought you’d speak to.
I’m not usually good at speaking to new people, but it came naturally at NCS. We are all on the same journey – embrace it! Be confident and comfortable with who you are and rock it! Be you and people will see that shine through, and making friends will be a piece of cake 😀
2. You won’t want to leave after the residential
This had not been my first residential, however it had been one of the longest. I feared beforehand that if I didn’t form friendships well (which most definitely wasn’t the case), I would be sharing rooms with people I didn’t bond with. But I honestly can’t explain how naturally friendships at NCS form, you have to see it to believe it! There is always someone who is willing to help you that you’ve never even met.
I shared a room on the first week residential with two girls from different groups and as soon as I entered the room, I felt like we’d been friends for years! You actually look forward to the nights, chatting away before bed. The vibes and spirit at NCS is just so warm and embracing, that you forget everything else and grasp it as a second home, and the people around you as family. You grow so close so quickly, that staying away from home isn’t really a major issue anymore and by the end I didn’t want to leave!
3. You can overcome anything
The first week residential away from home at an outdoor centre was definitely one of my favourite weeks, and a great way for your new team to bond though teamwork and group activities. There were things like indoor caving, abseiling, raft building, low ropes, archery and the leap of faith. This is definitely a week to face your fears and take on personal challenges!
If you’re afraid of heights for example, come to NCS with confidence and set yourself a target. For some it may be getting halfway up the rock climbing and for some it may be all the way to the top. Whatever it is, come to NCS with an open mind and don’t give up the chance to try something new, remember your whole group will support you to achieve the goals you’ve set, so you aren’t facing these things alone!
The feeling of carrying on despite the fear is something that will definitely have a lasting impression on you and will show you that you can overcome any barrier between you and your goals – something invaluable for the future.
4. Mud will wash off, but great memories will last you forever
Something I would also definitely suggest in order to really make the most of your NCS experience is DO NOT BE AFRAID OF GETTING MUDDY OR WET. This really applied to me in activities like raft building. Eventually, we all got stuck in and to my luck, I fell in the water up to my waist (not a pleasant feeling!) though now that I look back, I don’t necessarily remember the mud or the wet, but the laughter and memories made from those moments. I was clean and dry again after a quick shower, yet the memories are unforgettable.
Words of wisdom? Enjoy the moments as they come, and take it all in, because they will form the basis of your unique, once in a lifetime experience at NCS!
5. It’s a journey, not a competition
After the residential, you’ll move on to social action project fortnight, where you truly leave your mark and make a difference to the community you live in. As everyone picks their different charities from the countless ones available on the university experience week, everyone gets really excited, as you should be, to raise lots of money for their charity. However, despite everyone wanting to raise the most, it’s not a competition but an act of charity and will to give something back to your community, as well as a chance to really put into practice the skills you have learnt throughout the intense residential weeks.
You will learn valuable skills during NCS but the experience will always be unique to you, so learn from your mistakes but don’t forget to have fun with it and applaud yourself for all the incredible things you do!
These were the main worries I had before coming to NCS, it turned out I was worrying over nothing, so hopefully if you’re nervous about starting your own NCS journey this will help you. I’m so glad I didn’t let the nerves hold me back and said YES to NCS.
Thanks for reading, hope you have the confidence to go ahead and take part in this unforgettable experience!
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Check out the official NCS blog: http://www.ncsem1.org.uk/blog/