I've finished uni now of course, with my first class degree (did I mention it was first class at all??) but I am yet to have my graduation ceremony - that will be in November, I am beyond excited. However, I have still enrolled at University of Liverpool to complete my MA in Twentieth Century History. It was Welcome Week this week so the place is buzzing. Freshers everywhere, huge amounts of people swarming the campus. There was a boy dressed as a yellow submarine, RAF people, people selling posters, Greggs giving out free coffees, Dominos giving out free pizzas...
Now normally I would be all in for the "free stuff" - but you know what, I just didn't want to know. I was so pleased to be getting my timetable, my module information, my reading lists, meeting my supervisors... I was just not bothered by anything else.
One of my concerns was age. Now I know I'm not going to be the oldest, and it doesn't really even matter, but there has always been this thing in the back of my head that tells me I'm too old to be a student. With the OU I could hide behind my laptop and the online essay-submissions. With a brick uni there is nowhere to hide. I had bought new clothes (in the New Look sale, sale fans - I got a dress for £5 - bargain!) I did my hair and my make-up and generally made a bit of an effort. I feel like I a going somewhere I truly want to be. As daft as this sounds, but this is my social life. I LOVE being a student, this is totally me - if I won the lottery the first thing I would do is be a full time student, I just love it.
As I sat waiting in the reception area with other students I realised that age doesn't really matter. I talked to everyone (as I do, wittering on.) The whole post-grad co-hort for the School was there, so there were maybe 60 people? We were gradually reduced in numbers as we were taken off to our specific courses. In ours there were only 7, and we are mixed age but not mixed gender. I was the only woman there and this really surprises me. It doesn't bother me at all though.
My module looks AMAZING. I have missed "work" so much. I have a reading list as long as my arm and so much time to find to get it done. Next year I can take some optional modules - this is new to the course and I think it's a great idea. I am choosing a politics module to do with international slavery and human rights. This is brilliant for me because I was torn between choosing International Slavery MA and the Twentieth Century MA. In the end it came down to my background knowledge. My strengths lie in Twentieth Century, so I have a lot of background knowledge in this area and also I own a lot of the books needed already. With time tight, this was the best option for me, so it is great that I get to dip my toe into politics next year too.
I really can't wait t get started. I did have some worries before I started - I thought I might see the programme and run a mile, I was worried about the cost - I'm working an extra job to pay for this degree, and I worry about my own knowledge and whether I can keep up and do the degree well. Some of those fears are still there, but I feel much better seeing the programme, and the money doesn't even matter - this is my "thing."
These next two years are going to be the busiest I've ever been, even by my standards. I am working at the university 17.5 hours. I am also working temporarily for the NHS in a casual/part time role which will probably last me for the duration of my degree, or thereabouts, I probably average about 6 hours a week. I'm also volunteering from October in the local archive, digitising some collections. I know nothing about archiving, which for an historian is pretty poor, hence the volunteering. I imagine I will only manage 2 hours a week though, if that. Maybe more in school holidays.
And of course there are the three kids.
And the house and everything that goes with that.
I was looking for a MEGA PLANNER you know like a big diary-cum-panner-cum-notebook type thing and I just couldn't find one that met all my needs. I mean, who could? So I just bought one from the pound shop, just a usual diary - I'm sure I'll manage to put everything in.
I now have three ID cards, three emails, three logins. It gets confusing. (This is not counting blog emails...)
It sounds complicated, but everything is set up for me to win. That's how I look at it. This is not a normal situation, I know that, but it's my situation and I love it. So the way I look at it is:
I work at the uni (so easy for me to get to and from my classes, I work it around work)
I work at the NHS to pay for my uni fees (I work just enough hours to cover the expense)
I'll volunteer in the archive to brush up my archiving knowledge and skills
I have two days off a week with the kids and to catch up on housework
We try to pack our weekends with fun things to do with the kids, ballet, teas out, days out - now the house is sold we can afford it.
And when things get busy and stressful, I tend to write in this blog, or do a post involving weird photoshopped photos of me at the Bake Off or whatever. As sad as it is, I amuse myself...
My life is full. I can never be bored, I am too busy for bored. Once a week I plan on taking a nice long bath to chill out, I am aware that I will need time for myself. My reading will be done on the way to work and on the way home on the bus. That's around an hour and half. Then another two or three hours at night when the kids are in bed. When it comes to essay time I will lock myself away as I usually do.
I am really looking forward to this. I have missed it lots.
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