How I found my feet at NTU

Varsity Series 2015

By Emma Maraio, a Psychology NTU Alumni 

It was the UCAS deadline day for submissions, so I picked a Uni pretty much at random; something not too far so I could go home and see my parents when I was hungry and skint, and not too close that they could just turn up unexpected. I picked Psychology because ‘I liked people’. And click. That was that. I applied to NTU.
I moved into halls, and went to my first lecture…second lecture…third lecture. And then it hit me. I didn’t belong here. I had studied A Levels in Art, English, Philosophy and Business Studies, and here I was in a lecture theatre looking at the cross section of a brain, wondering how I had ended up here. Where other people’s A Levels in Psychology and Biology were paying off, my ability to make a clay pot or talk about character development in the Handmaids Tale wasn’t very helpful right now.
I went to my tutor and I asked to leave, she passed me a piece of paper and said sign this and you’ll be able to leave. This was back when a tutor wouldn’t have sat you down to check you were alright. I threw it in my rucksack and went to the Students’ Union Bar to think about how I was going to tell my mum I hadn’t made it.
I got a pint and I reached into my bag to sign the papers, but I found something else. I found a flyer from Trent Womens’ Football. The week before I had been to Freshers Fair and met some of the most enthusiastic and lovely people in the world. I tried to bat the leaflet away and explain I didn’t know anything about football, to which they responded “That doesn’t matter, we’re for everyone, just come along and have a go!”.
I decided I had nothing to lose. I hadn’t quite got the guts to tell my mum I was leaving, so why not go and meet some new people in the interim. I went to training and everything just clicked, I had met my people. They were warm and lovely, and it felt like home. They reassured me that first year was hard, and explained by second year I would have a better idea in what I was doing. Some of the footballers were second and third year Psychology students so they helped me understand my modules and supported me in revising for exams.
And the rest they say is history, I passed my first year (just) but by second year I had got into the groove and loved being able to pick modules more tailored to my interests. I became Social Secretary, and then President for Trent Womens’ Football. I coached varsity teams, sat on sports committees, and actually went on to work for NTU for three years in Sports Development.
Fast forward nearly 14 years later and my best mates are still the people I met at that first training session. We have all grown up a bit, and even have kids who will hopefully one day play for Trent. I went on to do a Masters and start a PhD. I am a business psychologist with my own business, and its all because someone shoved a flyer in my hand and told me I could hang out with them and kick a ball around.

Check out Emma’s blog on her website Sorriso Learning –  there are some really helpful and interesting posts around mental health and wellbeing.

For help and advice whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.

Support from NTU
Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
Depression advice
Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
Struggling at Uni? Go to Student Minds
10 Keys to happiness

This post is part of our regular NTU Alumni feature. Over the next few weeks we will be posting guest blogs written by our Alumni Fellows sharing their experiences and tips on their student journey while here at NTU.
If you are an NTU graduate and are interested in writing for us contact:
You can find more information about our Alumni Fellowship volunteering programme via the alumni website


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