Anxious A-level students began arriving back in Britain yesterday to collect their exam results. For many, it was a return to grim reality after a long break with no worries.
Sian Every and Amy Jones, both 18, from Ross-on-Wye, returned from five weeks travelling through Africa and a week-long jaunt through France.
"For the last few years our school has been raising money for Kisiki College, Namutumba, in Uganda so we just popped in on it," said Ms Every.
"We lived in the school which was like a mud hut. There were flies and cockroaches everywhere. The countryside was so green because it was the rainy season. There were bananas, mangoes, pawpaws and pineapples everywhere," she added.
They left Britain at the end of June to escape a summer of worrying about the impending A-level results. Flying back to Britain was a thoroughly depressing experience.
"We would have been really depressed if we'd stayed. We just had to keep busy so the exams didn't play on our minds," said Ms Jones.
"I haven't had much time to think about the results but when I do I find it quite frightening because what you do for the rest of your life depends on the day," added Ms Every.
"I just feel that I don't want to open my results until I know they're OK.
"I'm nervous rather than worried. I know I've worked hard and I can't do any more," said Ms Jones.
Others were returning from more traditional holidays, but the imminent arrival of the results has been equally nerve-wracking.
"My pulse rate has been rising throughout the week. Everyone tells us that it's too late to do something about it and I guess it is," said Olivia Cook, 18, from Peterborough in Cambridgeshire. She was returning from a villa holiday near Naples with eight of her friends.
They had booked the holiday well before the exams to give them something to look forward to.
"I just wanted to get away from my usual friends and my family who were all panicking for me, I just had to get away," said Ms Cook.
Others had also been laying contingency plans in the event of disappointing grades.
"The first thing I'll do is phone the universities and hassle them. They say that you shouldn't do it and yet they install new phone lines so they must expect it," said Edward Perrott, 18, from Exeter.
"Failing that, I'll have to go through clearing. If that fails then I'll take a year out and look around for something else and may be do a night-school course," he added.
Ms Jones was more forthright. "I just want to go somewhere - I don't want to stay in Ross-on Wye."Reuse content