It was January. Exams were looming. I was aimlessly wandering around the poorly attended Re-Freshers fair, to put off any more time pretending to revise, when it hit me. That horrible realisation, that like many other second years I am half way through university life with nothing to show for it. The harsh reality is that I spend far too many of my nights at Ocean and my days napping like an old woman.
I panicked. Something came over me, and I decided things had to change, and, in the grips of this premature mid-life crisis, I resolved to join a new society. I wanted to do something different at university, something fun, something challenging, and importantly, something cool (sorry Quidditch Soc).
Then, there it was. Skydive Society.
It was perfect. Friends thought I was crazy, and I admit after a few days, once reality began to sink in, so did I. But God, I was excited.
I feel I should explain some skydivey terms here. Initially, my plan was to sign up for a ‘tandem jump’, where I would be safely tied to somebody else and all I would have to do is pose for a camera and scream a bit. What ended up being surprisingly cheaper, and oh so much better, was a RAPS course, or a ‘Static line’ Jump. This involves one weekend away at nearby Langer Air Field with one very boozy night on Friday meeting fellow ‘RAPlings’, and one very hungover Saturday of training. Weather permitting, you then get to do two static line jumps on the Sunday. This option, unlike the tandem jump, is a stepping-stone to becoming a qualified skydiver, and means you can jump out of a plane. Alone.
I know. It’s badass. Even when I added a bright orange jumpsuit and ping-pong ball helmet I felt awesome. Once you get over the fact you are falling out of a plane from 4000ft, it is also pretty fool-proof, as the ‘static line’ means you don’t even have to open your own parachute; it opens automatically five seconds after you leave the plane.
I won’t lie to you- I was fucking terrified. On my first jump, everything I was taught flew out of my mind the second the rickety aircraft took off from the ground and all the fields became alarmingly small. Gone were the loud chants we were taught so you can count the length of fall time without panicking. Gone was my knowledge of how to steer my parachute to the ground. Gone was any ability to actually move towards the open door of an actual moving place. My instructor said getting me out was like ‘trying to put a cat in water’. All things considered, though, I thought I did pretty well. Even if I landed in a crumpled heap in a puddle.
My second jump was significantly more dignified. I jumped out the plane with minimal swearing, and I even managed to land on my feet. I felt awesome for approximately 2 seconds, though, before my parachute filled up with air and I was dragged backwards across the airfield.
Two days after my first jumps, I still can’t stop smiling. Joining Skydive Society was one of the best choices I have made at university, and my mid-university-life crisis is officially over. Although I thought skydiving was just something I wanted to cross off the bucket list, I’m now tempted to continue my training so that I can experience my first proper free-fall jump. So, fellow students suffering from a mid-university-life crisis, it wasn’t too late for me and it is not too late for you! Take the plunge, even if it is literally from out of a plane. You won’t regret it and that post-dive pint will feel so worth it.