What is a Villiers Park residential really like?

Worried or concerned about your residential trip to Villiers Park? Let some of our recent visitors put your mind at ease. 
Neuroscience sudents
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So, you’ve been told you’re coming on a residential trip to Villiers Park. You probably have a rough idea what you’ll be doing, you’ve scanned the website and feel… OK about it. But actually, you’ve never heard of Foxton, you probably haven’t stayed away from home for this long before and naturally, have all sorts of concerns and worries about food, your room mates and what actually it’ll be like. 

Well, you’re not the only one. We’ve been chatting to five students who recently attended a residential to get their insight and their views. Like so many others, they had plenty of anxieties and nerves between them. But what was the reality? 
Sheza and Elianne travelled to Foxton from Northampton and East London respectively for an Economics Inspiring Excellence course. Della, Abby and Demi, are Tyneside STEM Scholars. Abby is reflecting on the Neuroscience Inspiring Excellence course she attended; Della and Demi their Scholar residential… 

What worries and concerns did you have before your residential? 
Sheza: I thought I'd be constantly confused and wouldn't fit in. I thought I‘d be sitting by myself while everyone had intellectual conversations. 
Elianne: Me too. I know someone who came before and she’s extremely clever. 
Della: I was worried that I was going to be separated from all of my school friends for the residential and thrown straight into the deep end. I was also concerned about the place we were staying in as I had no clue where it was or what it would be like. I was worried we would have to do hard and boring work the full time and I’d want to go home. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case! 
Abby: My main concern was being away from home for that length of time as it was never something that I had done before. 
Demi: I was actually so excited to go down to Foxton! I felt really lucky to have been able to get the opportunity. It made me feel a bit more special in a pretty average state school.

Teaching during Abby's Neuroscience Inspiring Excellence course

How did you feel the night before?
Abby: The night before I did some further reading into the neuroscience topic in my A-level biology book as I hadn’t covered the course yet. I then realised this is definitely something I was interested in and I was then excited to learn more! However, I was still nervous as I was going to be out of my comfort zone.

Della: The night before I was really nervous and not sure what to expect. I had mixed emotions because I was excited to go and experience the whole thing but I also didn’t want to go and stay at home in my comfort zone!
Elianne: The night before was almost the lowest moment, but as soon as I got to Foxton I was like - oh my goodness this is too real - I felt really scared. 

When you first arrived, what happened?
Elianne: Basically everyone is either in the lobby area of in their rooms. Conversation just happened - if we’d stood in silence it would have been awkward! 
Abby: It was somewhere I had been previously for a Year 12 residential so I knew what it expect, but I was made to feel welcomed. We had an introduction into the week so I could see which topic would be covered. 
Della: When I arrived, it was a beautiful place. We got time to settle in, we were greeted nicely and got told a brief itinerary for the duration of the next few days and what we should expect. This immediately made me feel comfortable and happy to be there as I knew it was going to be way better than I thought! 

Elianne and Sheza during their Economics residential 
How was sharing a room?
Elianne: I was honestly terrified of sharing a room because I’ve never shared a room with someone I don’t know before and I didn’t know how it would go. But it’s actually turned out great. I’m really good friends with my roommate!
Sheza: Same with me. I walked in and saw their suitcase in the room and thought ‘oh god, what’s this going to be like’. But then I got to know her and she’s really nice. She’s from Bournemouth and if I’m ever town that way I’ll definitely go and meet her - we’ll stay in touch. 

Looking back at your original worries and concerns, what was the reality?
Della: The reality was I didn’t want to step out of my comfort zone and I didn’t want to be grouped with new people as I was very shy and nervous but Villiers Park has helped me overcome these and now I’m looking forward to upcoming residentials!
Demi: When I arrived I remember thinking how pretty the grounds were. It was open spacious and full of greenery something I’m not used to living in a built up area.
Abby: The Inspiring Excellence course was nothing to have been worried about, I was able to enjoy myself and learn simultaneously which is important to me. I have made friends who I still now am able to chat with on social media! 

Sheza and Elianne with friends during their residential

How do you feel now, looking back at your experience?
Elianne: It’s been great. I’ve learnt a lot about economics and all the different types of people that go into the subject. I’m going to feel very different when I go back to college. Economics will be easier because we have lots more background information and I’ll feel more confident when it comes to talking to new people and doing something like this. 
Sheza: It’s really motivated me to work harder and it’s helped me to be more confident and not be scared when trying new experiences.
Della: The residential was definitely the best part of the year with Villiers Park as we all enjoyed it so much and had lots of fun.
Abby: I am so grateful I was given the experience - I have now been doing research into neuroscience PHDs in the future! The opportunity really helped me with my career choice and university choice.
Demi: My experience so far with Villiers Park has helped build me. It’s made me feel as though I can stand out from the crowd as it’s a prestigious opportunity that not many children are given. I’m forever grateful for the skill set and more importantly mind-set the staff have gifted me with.

Sheza and Elianne with students on the Economics course. 

Top tips from our students to overcome residential nerves:

Come with an open mind. If you come with the preconceived notion that you’re going to be the dumbest in the group or you won’t make any friends, you tend to be more reserved. So come with an open mind because it’s easier for you to make friends.
Everyone comes from a different area of the country, so take the opportunity to learn about each other’s area. You get to learn a lot from each other. 
Join any conversation you can. Sometimes there can be groups of conversations going on around you - join one. Then you get to talk to more than one person at a time and get to know more than one person. 
Don’t worry yourself about the negatives as this makes you feel a lot worse about going and enjoying yourself. 
All of the staff understand how you feel and they appreciate that. They work with you to make your experience so enjoyable. 
Talk to people! It’s amazing how much you can learn and how quickly friendships blossom. It was the people I was with and the conversations I had that made the trip truly special. 
Don’t waste the opportunity. Make sure you take the time to appreciate the opportunity you’re given - it’s an experience you won’t be offered again. 
Remember, everyone is in the same boat - most people will be from schools around the country. 
Don’t be afraid to ask someone’s name or if you can have lunch with someone - everyone is in the same position. 

Visit our staying with us page for more information on accommodation, facilities and food at Villiers Park. 
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