Friday, December 17, 2010

What a feeling!

Why did nobody tell me how it was going to feel when the exams finished?

It's as good as when I gave birth to my children! Here I am, 31 years after leaving school and finishing my first semester in university - with (I hope) all my exams passed. Came out of philosophy exam this evening to a Christmas snowfall and it was sheer heaven. I wanted to burst with pride. Made do with waiting for my mates with a bottle of Cava and, outside the exam hall, we mature students toasted each other and gloried in our achievements.

It is so hard to take it all in. A year ago I was hoping that I'd get into college and now I feel that I am a 'real' student. The exams weren't easy but I did realise that the work I'd put in over the term had actually paid off. Of course I'll do things differently next semester, but for the first term I'm dead proud of myself :-)

Resting on my laurels is not going to be an option. I will have a different strategy next semester but we have also been given a ton of homework by the Spanish department to do over the Christmas holidays. Feliz Navidad my ass!!! We get examined on our holiday work the second week after we go back to college. Think I may take Christmas day off LOL.

It will take a day or so to wind down and tidy up all the notes and books lying around the house after the frantic cramming of the last few days. The next few hours are going to be spent relaxing with the lads and having a few drinks.

Student life really is great :-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Exams - even with the opportunity of a deferral!

I'll be in my first exam in less than 12 hours. Nerves only started to kick in after dinner this evening. Now I'm chatting online with other students who are in the same boat. It's very strange to be preparing for an exam again. Thankfully, the Latin American history exam a couple of weeks ago was a gentle reminder of what it's like to sit an exam but I saw the set-up in the big halls today and it is a bit intimidating.

While I've been revising it's been reassuring how much I actually took in during lectures and tutorials. Writing essays helped to get the brain in the right mode too. Handed in my last assignment today before going to the clinic to have my knee looked at. Yes, had a stupid accident on the stairs early on Sunday evening and am now strapped up and crutched - not to mention doped. The X-ray can wait until after the exams.

The college is certainly helpful to students with medical problems. Today I was offered the chance to defer my exams until the next chance (May) or sit them in sick-bay. Declined both offers but did get a temporary disability parking permit as I can't walk easily and will have to drive to my exams. Can't imagine deferring unless it was absolutely necessary - would mean studying all this semester's work again until just before the end of year exams!

It is a strange set-up. What I'm studying now will never be needed again. The notes and books I used for my essays are already defunct and the rest from this semester will be assigned to the archives on Friday. As half of my subjects will be dropped next year, it is sad that everything from the modules I've been studying the past 12 weeks will not be part of my life from now on. I know I haven't enjoyed everything - that would be a bit much to expect - but all the work will be examined over the next three days and then ignored. Okay, some of it was groundwork for future study, but at least half of it will never be used again in an academic sense. I will miss History of Philosophy and the Celts.

Oh well, time to get some refreshing sleep before exam number one. If we've been lied to about what is coming up on the paper I'm screwed!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hanging on in there

What a week it's been - all over the country. The tragic events in Cork and Limerick have thrown into stark relief all petty day-to-day concerns. Who can know how those poor families are feeling? Worrying about the mundane is nothing compared to what they have to deal with. My heart and prayers go out to them.

I started out the week feeling like Atlas, with all the weight of looming exams on my shoulders. Everyone I talked to seemed to be in the same frame of mind, particularly my fellow mature students. Sharing the burden across the whole campus helped a lot so, after a couple of days, everyone's mood was lighter and the library and reading room were crammed all day, every day. We're just getting on with study and essay writing and doing our best to get good enough grades to pass. Roll on December 17th!

Still waiting for my English essay to be graded by the powers that be but have got some very positive comments from my tutor. The constructive criticism was expected and can be used to direct essay number two. This has to be in on December 2nd but there's a problem - one of the tutors has been absent and we've missed two important lectures, the contents of which are needed for the essay. Will have to see will they extend the deadline or if we are just expected to muddle through on our own. Was banking on last Friday's lecture to spur me on to starting writing. Oh well, it will get done somehow. Have started the Celtic Civ essay at least!

From now until the end of the semester it's going to be nothing but work, work, work. Tuesday we have a Spanish Oral; Wednesday it's a Spanish test. The same day as the English essay is due we have another Spanish test, this time on Latin American History and Culture. The exam timetable is up and I have four in three days from 15th to 17th - Spanish and Philosophy on the same day - UGH!

Oops! Just remembered that I've a Spanish essay to write before Wednesday - better leave off scribbling here and get my act together.

A good thing to remember - which I remind myself of every day - is that I'm so lucky to be doing what I'm doing. Passing my exams, rather than killing myself going all-out for Firsts, is what is important. I'm a mum as well as a student and am getting the hang of the balancing act. With the economy down the spout, there may be no opportunity for others to follow in my footsteps. Going to college THIS year was my last chance and will lead to a better future for the whole family.

Hold onto that thought girl!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Imagist Poetry

English was interrupted today, leading to a poem in the style of the poet we were studying -

High pitched
shrieks of
greet the
in the theatre

Monday, November 8, 2010

Piling on the pressure

Time to get really serious now we are in the second half of the semester. Essay titles are being handed out and in tutorials and lectures we are being told the topics that are most important for the exams. This evening got the date and location for a Spanish culture exam on December 2nd! There is no let-up from now until the end of term.

Going to do my best to get cracking on - and finish - the Celtic Civ essay this week (in addition to TWO Spanish essays due over the next few days). That will give me time to get to grips with the Philosophy essay the following week and, once that is done, we should have done enough in Poetry to make a start on English essay II.

On a brighter note, the courses are beginning to become a little easier to understand as we learn more and the subject-matter starts to form part of a cohesive whole. Celtic Civ (apart from the wonderful Wednesday morning lectures) will always be a matter of waffling about the few facts that we have been given. If I can't do well in 'waffle' it will be surprising LOL! Philosophy is certainly extremely interesting and I'm loving the module on 'Personal Identity'. Discovered today that I'm definitely a fan of Locke - at least his theories of human identity. An excellent tutorial today, plus an amazing insight by one of the class, has helped me to make sense of Descartes at last, so at least an exam question on his Meditations will be do-able.

Had a chat with one of the other mature students today. I usually see him head down over a pile of books in the reading room and he seems to be looking more morose by the day. He told me he is finding the workload too much (we are doing three of the same courses) and seems totally negative about the exams. Wish I could have cheered him up a bit.

Of course, life isn't all serious. For the first time wore my football shirt to college to celebrate Liverpool's win over Chelsea yesterday :-) As half of the text we read in Spanish class today was about Maradona, it was pretty apt and, even when returning books to the library, my top initiated lots of comment and craic. I know, I'm always going to be a football hooligan!

The rest of this week is going to have plenty of extra-curricular activity: It's music week; there's a special FanSci meeting on Wednesday and a Pokemon day on Thursday. Lots of other stuff going on as well, of course, so will probably be spending time on campus every evening.

I think I'm getting the balance right - working steadily and having fun too - it's keeping the pressure at bay and preventing me from blowing a gasket!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What a week! The pressures of essay deadlines and lecturers talking about exams is really starting to hit hard. Managed to submit my first English essay on time and fairly happy with it. Put myself under a lot of pressure to do as best a job of it as I could but discovered that writing an academic essay is very different from a feature article for a paper or magazine. Talked to my tutor about this - I am used to getting my 'results' as phonecalls from people saying how much they loved my articles... this time I'm getting GRADED. It's been a long time since I was so nervous! Must have spent two hours making sure my bibliography was perfect LOL.

There are only six more weeks before the exams - plus three more essays to be done before the end of the semester - and now moving into serious study mode. Everyone is feeling the sense of urgency about working. We all have essays to write and those of us studying a language (or two in some cases) have regular tests and assignments to add to the workload. Finally got the results of our last Spanish test and although I was hoping for a B, managed another A (my vocabulary let me down as expected but did fine on grammar). I feel that I'm giving myself too much to live up to as there isn't a hope of my remembering everything I'd need to get an A in the exams.

All the studying means that I've not being doing much in the way of having fun. It's just so nice to come home in the evenings, eat dinner and collapse in front of the tv for some mindless entertainment. Somehow managing to do a bit of housework and even cooked the dinner yesterday, but mostly it's all done for me. Yes, I'm well spoiled at home and loving it. The weather has been atrocious and I even get driven to and collected from college most days. My BH really is fantastic :-)

Today saw me attending probably my last afternoon Celtic Civ lecture. The Wednesday morning lectures are brilliant but, for me, the other two are just a period when I can nap in peace before moving on to something more interesting. This afternoon's offering by our lecturer was no better than usual but, just before we were finally released to attend something more riveting, he made such an awful error (in my judgement) that I almost shouted out a correction and came close to going down and punching him! As you can tell, I'm still fuming about his total inadequacy as a lecturer. Won't go into details but, suffice to say, his gaffe was on a par with Stephen Hawking mentioning that he knew that there was someone called Galileo and that he might have lived somewhere in Europe and invented some sort of useful tool for science but he wasn't sure what ... and then moving on. Yes, it was THAT bad! As it was a subject about which I just happen to have a huge personal library which I've read for years and the place he was waffling about happened to be somewhere I've been to and studied I DO know what I'm talking about. It was like sacrilege. However, I somehow kept my temper and just walked out.

Okay.... that's enough ranting for tonight. The weekend is beckoning and I plan to enjoy some family time before knuckling down again when we get three more essay titles next week. Liverpool v Chelsea on Sunday ... a tasty Sunday lunch in store :-)

'Tis late and I've a 9am lecture in the morning. Time to go and try and get some shut-eye.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Long weekend

Everyone is thrown by having the bank holiday a week before Halloween - seems like it's going to be a seven-day fancy dress extravaganza on campus. Am thinking of going to the Philosopher's party in the bar on Wednesday but depends on whether or not I feel like putting together a costume.

Haven't done much in the way of work since finishing up on Friday - part of me feels guilty as there's a pile of Spanish homework to be done and I'm also itching to get cracking on the English essay. Mind you, am having a lovely time not being a student and being with the family. Just had a smashing breakfast cooked by one son and taking the sprog to watch Man U game in town shortly. Have a feeling that later on we'll be watching Kung Fu Panda dvd :-) Please note - watching Liverpool make a show of themselves again is not on the agenda. Even doing the ironing is more appealing!

Tomorrow is another family day - heading to Dublin to visit my uncle in hospital. The books can wait until Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


After all my angst about Spanish, I realised I didn't even mention the subject yesterday! Gracia de Dios, it's all going great. A second 'A' received today and, after class, spent two hours studying in the library for Friday's test. Have set myself a standard which may be impossible to keep up - but you know I'll try :-)

The current issue of 'SIN' is out and contains my piece on mature students. There's a lot of controversy about the paper at the moment - the second article on sex for college students was, in my opinion, a page of gratuitous verbal pornography and it offended a large number of people on campus. This issue has two pages of letters on the matter, most of them giving out yards, and the local radio station has broadcast that the SU is determined to ensure that such an article is not repeated. I have even seen a call for the editor to resign... No comment. This issue has another article in the series by the same writer but, this time, it seems to be well watered-down. Personally, I'd have suspended publication to see what way the wind would blow. Overheard some students talking about it today, as well as the atrocious proofreading and type setting. Yeah, well... my opinion on that and my offer to assist are known in the appropriate quarter.

On overhearing people, heard a gem on the stairs in the library this afternoon from a teenage girl - "I heard there's a lot of books in there....Yeah, I know it's a library, but..." And this was a student! ROFL

Was joined at lunchtime by my better half (BH from now on) and we went to Philosophy lecture together, sitting with one of my good friends who he has already met. Bit of a let-down as the lecturer never showed up! We did get a show of one type though - a couple of lads ran down the side aisles, waving their shirts in the air and yelling their heads off. Meeting in the middle of the lecture stage, they jumped up, bumped stomachs and returned up the stairs to the doors. Totally pointless but at least it broke the lethargy and did stir us to give up waiting for the professor and depart (as suggested by the streakers) for a pint.

Just another typical day in NUIG!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Loving life :-)

My current Facebook status shows me wondering if life can get any better. To tell the truth, living 'the dream' really is something wonderful and the longer I'm in college the more I'm sure that the move to Galway and NUIG was 100% correct.

Now that the antibiotics have done their thing, the exhaustion and lethargy are gone and I've only once nodded off in Celtic Civ - nothing new in that with the soporific waffling one lecturer subjects us to! As we reach the ends of our first modules in English, Philosophy and C. Civ., the contents of the courses seem far more manageable than they did last month. We have been given tips for exams, have a better idea of what is expected of us and I'm much more relaxed about everything. It makes actually learning the material easier and starting my first essay is no longer daunting.

Tutorials have passed the introductory stage and they really are a place to clarify things from lectures and ask questions. Philosophy would have to be my favourite tutorial - Lucy, a fun post-grad, who's a massive sci fi fan, is the tutor and she facilitates and guides our discussions to some sort of conclusion. There are NO wrong answers is Philosophy! Spotted a quote from a Galway TD in the paper yesterday, relating to Human Rights, so brought it in with me. Lucy read it out at the start of the session and it led to a debate on democracy (with plenty of reference to Plato's Republic of course :-)

My biggest problem - and this would be with anything that I'm into - is switching off. The habit of working most of the day on campus helps a lot but my 'better half' is now staying with us and, while he is interested in my college days, he calls a halt when he feels enough is enough. It's so good to have him here when I get home and makes sure that the transition from 'student' to 'human being' is a smooth one.

Yes, I'm loving life and really appreciate how lucky I am.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Settling in

Another week has passed and life on campus is almost becoming 'normality'.

My feelings of exhaustion finally drove me to the college health centre where, not surprisingly, I was told that my cold had turned into something nasty - a sinus infection - and was told to go home to bed and take my medicine (in this case, antibiotics and steroids). Took the afternoon off but no way was I going to miss any more Spanish classes so made it in the next morning for a few hours.

Two days on the tablets and I'm feeling pretty much okay again, so the end of the week has been a nice pattern of going to lectures, language classes and tutorials, inter-spaced with periods at home reading and doing homework.

I have to say that NUIG provides students with first-rate health care; extremely efficient and thorough. Had to go back this morning to have six little vials of my blood extracted for analysis. At least I will know next week if I'm going to be fit enough to finish my degree!

Highlight of the week had to be the return of my first graded continuous assessment assignment for Spanish - A! This really has spurred me on to work harder than ever and, as a reward, this morning a very special book arrived in the post which I ordered over the Internet - BRUJERÍAS - Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters en español. Knowing it practically by heart in English, reading it in Spanish isn't that hard so, hopefully, my vocabulary will improve while I giggle :-)

Missed all the fun and games after lectures this week so nothing to report from the socs and clubs. Looking forward to the Philosopher's fancy dress party during Halloween week - any suggestions for a costume will be very welcome.

Glad to have developed a fairly decent routine regarding study. More changes to the household this week as mi novio has arrived from London for a visit. Planning a quiet weekend without any offspring around and then it will be so much fun introducing him to my college life. Who knows? He may end up joining me there!

Friday, October 8, 2010

A week of firsts

Well, after starting off the week by going to the wrong lecture for the first time, novel experiences just kept on piling up!

On the academic front I had my first language lab and first Celtic Civ tutorial. Both were in small groups and thoroughly enjoyable and good learning environments.

Socially there were way too many things to do on campus during the week but, before letting my hair down I did get lots of study done in my free time. Feeling virtous, Thursday night's trip to the Roisin Dubh with the comedy society seemed to be a well-earned treat and a large group headed off to the venue, where a stand-up gig was being recorded for TV broadcast in the new year. Going to live comedy is one of my 'things' and I laughed myself silly all night. (Yes, okay, I'm silly enough at the best of times :-) I won't give any spoilers here - suffice to say, if you can watch the show 'Stand and Deliver' on RTE in the New Year, don't miss it!

Being a less than mature student, instead of heading straight home after the performance, it was a case of 'just one more drink' which, because I met so many people I knew, turned into a long night of animated camaraderie and, what seemed at the time to be erudite conversation. I eventually got in some time after 3am - with a 9am lecture to look forward to. Ha!

Another first in the morning - not surprisingly. Missed the lecture and woke late in a total panic that I'd also missed the next one and a tutorial. It had to happen sometime :-) Thank goodness I didn't have a bad head and made it through the day without mishap.

The final 'first' of the week was handing in the first assignement which will be counted towards my end of year marks. Scary stuff!

Lots of reading to do this weekend as next week sees me having to make a start on essays... Wonder how long this feeling of being a 'kid in a sweet shop' is going to last?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Step back for a minute

Today I found myself taking a step back from all the hustle and bustle and giving a little time to observing what's going on around me.

The campus construction is nearing completion around the Concourse and library, opening up more space for student traffic and for congregating in the sunshine between the heavy showers. Familiar faces are appearing everywhere now and, while names are often hard to assign to the right people (nobody has yet managed to memorise more than a few) it doesn't stop friendships from growing. Now that everyone is pretty much settled into college, conversations are less about "What subjects are you doing?" and more about "How are you doing?". We are getting to know one another a bit better.

Had two special encounters today. First one was when I bumped into my second year 'mentor' shortly before a lecture. Glad she's over the worst of the flu as I've missed seeing her around and was delighted to be able to help her with a bit of editing on her English essay. Outside of the classroom, students from different years mix all the time and this adds to the friendliness of campus.

My second pleasurable meeting was with a girl from one of my classes who I've not really spoken to since the first day. Discovered she lives near me so we walked home together and she dropped in for a coffee and a chat. Was only thinking this morning how nice it would be to have a friend living close by and, as if in answer to a prayer, Rachel pops up! How lucky I am to always seem to receive what I need most, when I need it.

Observing wasn't restricted to outside the classroom. Feeling less pressure and being more organised than I was, I can pay attention to the lecturers as well as the content of the lectures. Wasn't surprised to notice a correlation between the classes I most enjoy and the amount of preparation the lecturer obviously puts into teaching. Those who have notes, overheads and PowerPoint presentations all ready (technical hiccups don't count) are able to give more to the class. I'm not so fond of the lectures where notes are just read out without any interesting, relative interjections, or when the lecturer goes off on a rambling tangent.

Made it to the correct Spanish class today and found that the teacher has that 'no nonsense' style that some of my secondary school teachers had. We are expected to do our work without being mollycoddled and are corrected or praised as is deemed fit. Think I will learn a lot from her :-)

Started getting seriously into Plato's 'Republic' today - come the end of the second semester it might be very difficult to decide whether to keep on Spanish or Philosophy. English is a 'must' of course! It may seem like a long way away but, having a family, committing to an Erasmus year in only six months time is not something I will do lightly, no matter how much I would love to spend a year living in La Rioja. For now, the best thing is to work hard at ALL my subjects and, if I decide to drop Spanish after first year, there is always the option of doing a BA International - that doesn't have to be decided until the end of second year.

Deciding to go to college was only the first of many decisions that will need to be taken over the next few years. Taking time out for reflection every now and then is something that doesn't only give one a 'breather' - it's essential!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Second month - and STILL getting lost!

Started the week by getting lost trying to find my new Spanish class - ended up staying (by invitation) in the wrong classroom so it was an interesting way to join beginners. Today's language class was great though and, as there are two of us who have stepped down into the same group, it wasn't difficult to settle in.

Made sure I found out where and when I was supposed to be for today. English tutorial and lecture were as good as ever and there were less in the class too - just what I had hoped for.

Had planned to study for the afternoon but a friend from Westport was in town and took me to lunch - felt like I was mitching :-)

Tip for self (and any other similar idiots): LEAVE books in locker BEFORE heading to town from college. By the time I'd done the necessary bit of shopping and walked round the city I needed to get a taxi home.

Off to the first meeting of the English Society in an hour - Word Games and free food in the college bar... oh, the joys of student life!


Had to put a postscript on here. English Soc was absolutely brilliant. Groups of us at various tables, around which we had to rotate, playing fun word games and meeting new friends. Ended up at table with one of our lecturers and her pals - ALL fans of Terry's! (For those of you who are not in the know, I'm talking about the one and only Sir Terry Pratchett) They were all jealous that I'd met the great man and it looks like there'll be an NUIG group at the next IDWCon....

Parting words at the end of the evening - our esteemed lecturer proclaims that she sees herself as Daft Wullie :-). English in college Rocks!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October already!

It's hard to believe that another week is about to begin and, looking at the date, there's only one month before essays are due in! It's a rather sobering thought as, despite the fact that I did lots of study over the weekend, I don't feel nearly ready enough to write about all the things I've been reading.

Discovered a great way to study Spanish - play my audio CDs while doing housework. Covered a lot of ground, both linguistically and in the kitchen. Reluctantly returned philosophy book to the library on Saturday (after spending a couple of hours there reading it and taking notes). Have had to order my own copy from Amazon as only being allowed to keep books out one week is not going to get me through the year.

All ready for the week ahead at least - got the house clean, the laundry done and the books ready. Think a bit of R & R is due soon :-)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Failed .... Yippee!!!

Yes, you read it correctly - probably one of the top ten things nobody ever expected me to say but the Spanish level test has successfully weeded me out of Intermediate and back to Beginners where I originally applied to be. Was so relaxed after getting the news that (of course) my final class with the 'big boys' went well and I understood most of it and thoroughly enjoyed it.

It does mean that there will be more classes to attend from now on but at least I'll be working at a pace that's more suitable. One of my friends is moving back with me and we've been grouped together, so it's all good.

Was blaming the flu on the exhaustion I've been feeling but yesterday began to realise that it's the serious concentration that daily studying takes that is mostly responsible. Discussed this with some of my mature fellows and found that they are also finding that using the brain in a different way after so long is extremely taxing. A second year told us that it took him about six months to get the 'little grey cells' fit enough to cope. This student life is really throwing up some interesting lessons outside of the classroom.

Historically, a university education was designed to help develop maturity and an all-round education. What I'm discovering is that, although modern colleges have many specialities, the whole structure of campus life is a learning experience in itself and, for me, I hope to learn as much about myself and other people as I do about my subjects.

Maybe I'll be able to drop the question mark after 'mature' in a few years?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Positive thinking

It's mid-way through the second week of lectures and I'm wondering am I the same person that I was when starting college? Feeling so much more positive and confident that I'm going to be able to do this - even if I somehow miraculously passed the Spanish level test and have to stay in the more advanced class.

Today went as well as yesterday and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the sunshine for a couple of hours at one of the tables outside the College Bar studying Marlowe's 'Doctor Faustus' with the new outlook on drama that the lectures have engendered. Had the pleasant company of my new friend Paula some of the time while she worked at
Economics. Wherever I was between lectures, I had one or other of my core reading books with me and got stuck in... Am getting the hang of studying again.

Met my Academic Advisor today as well, a lovely Doctor of History, who was very positive about my choices, goals and attitude to university. Gave him the appropriate form so that's all the admin side of starting college out of the way.

This evening, having done so much studying during the day, took myself off to the Hispanic Society's showing of 'La noche de los girasoles' - a marvellous film and a great way to get the ear attuned to the language (even if I needed the subtitles to understand a lot of it). Rounded off the evening by meeting one of my new friends in the bar for a lovely chat and, of course, once there met a few more people I know, before getting half drowned walking home.

As a final, positive note to the college day, arrived home to find an email from the SIN editor telling me that the article I submitted is very good and will be in the next issue of the paper next week.

How can I be negative and lacking in confidence when everyone around me is affirming what I'm doing? This 'new' me is going to do her best not to slip back into the old way of thinking - even the rain didn't dampen my spirits!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New look tutorials

First tutorial this morning - English - and our tutor apologised for the new style the college has adopted (most likely because of cut backs). Instead of the expected small group of a dozen or so, found myself in a classroom with 50 others! Was still very interesting and informative but disappointed that there won't be opportunity for deep discussons.

I suppose I'd better say how yesterday's Spanish level test went... it went. Did all I could manage inside ten mintues, then guessed a few more answers. Afterwards, six of us who had initially registered as beginners were praying we'd failed. Have a week to find out where we'll eventually wind up. Had my first Intermediate Spanish language class today and was pleasantly surprised at being able to do quite well. Much more relaxed than the other classes so the tongue loosened up and started spouting proper sentences 'en Espanol'. Now I'm not sure if I really want to go down a level but, as my grammar is so weak, going down is still the preferred option.

Had a meeting with the Mature Students Officer this morning to get information for my first article for SIN. Was great to spend time with Trish, who is a lovely lady and definitely in the right job. During the hour or so I learnt that I wasn't the only one to be totally freaked out on day one - while I was crying in the Spanish department, she had a number of students who came to tell her that they felt they really weren't cut out for college! Obviously being 'mature' does not mean that we are grown-up when faced with the reality of university life. As Trish said, we need to lose the label of 'mature' and just think of ourselves as 'students'. I probably got more from our support service in that short conversation than anything else :-)

The article is now written and submitted to the paper.... you'll have to get your hands on a copy or look it up online to read it.

Did a lot of study at home this evening and have a 9am lecture in the morning so time to sign off.

Buenos noches.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Time to be serious?

Freshers' fortnight has now ended and the serious business of college gets underway tomorrow. We start tutorials on top of lectures and seminars so it's time to switch into work mode.

Had my first peep into the old college buildings last week... the Quad will be a nice place to study on warm days. It's getting rather chilly now and I'm blaming the cooler days, combined with alternatively getting soaked and being in extremely stuffy lecture theatres for my nasty cold. Bought up a chemist's shop over the weekend to help keep me going.

Adhering to my plan of making the most of the university experience, went for a fitness assessment in the gym yesterday. Was pleasantly surprised at not being half as bad as I thought and the lovely instructor put me through my paces and started me on an exercise regime. The goal is to lose at least a stone and drop a dress size before Christmas... Now that's in writing I'm going to HAVE to stick to it!

Of course, hardly opened a book since last lecture on Friday. Feel a bit guilty but am determined to get into a good routine this week. Anyone who knows me will be aware that this is not one of my strong points - been such a long time since I needed one.

Mind you, a flexible routine is always the best and I'm sure I'll find time to watch a film, attend a meeting or two (followed by a pint) and also get some copy written for SIN - that's the name of the college newspaper and supposed to be pronounced in the Gaeilge as 'shin'.

Have a few hours left of the weekend to get the house organised, prepare for tomorrow and iron something to wear. Better get away from the pc so :-)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Head in a whirl

So, I'm almost finished the second week and apologies to anyone who was hoping for an earlier update. It's been hard to sort things out in my head enough to write anything coherent.

The weekend was spent being 'mum' and, as it was my youngest who was here, it involved a lot of watching soccer. Took another trip to the library and was amazed at the young lad's ability to negotiate L-space, helping me find my way around as I still can't find the exit at first go!

With all courses chosen and myriad societies and clubs joined, have had to do some serious looking at timetabling and working out what to attend and what to drop. Have joined the college newspaper (along with the other Mayo News emigrant to NUIG) and watched Rocky Horror Picture Show with FanSci. Took to the Corrib in a kayak and will definitely keep it up, despite being rather of an ugly duckling on the water.

Academic life is all that I hoped for, and more. It is wonderful to sit down with a book and not feel guilty that the housework isn't getting done. All the reading is such fun for me and, as English, Philosophy and Celtic Civ tie in nicely together, I'm reading things that I'm very interested in.

Spanish, on the other hand, is hugely challenging and I'm not comfortable in the Intermediate class. Should have gone to Spain for a while in the summer to brush up. I had registered for Beginners but got bumped up to Intermediate. Asked to go back but the course head wants me to keep it up at least until Monday when the class has a level test to see exactly where we should be. Felt really upset after first lesson which, despite the fact that I understood most of it, when it came to formulating sentences en Espanol I just drew a blank. The words are there - in French and Irish when Spanish fails me but need a good whack on the head to shake the 'language files' into their rightful places.

Am off now to do two hours study before lectures... Spanish of course!

Adios :-)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ready, steady.....

Today I finally go my ID card, bought a couple more books and borrowed some from the library. Also got my Spanish timetable so all ready for Monday. Have complete week worked out, as far as lectures etc. go, and the only thing left to do is try out the Kingfisher and see what time I can spare for societies and clubs.

Oh! Also drove to Dublin and back with the car laden with son's stuff, so he is now sorted too and the house has a lot more space.

It has been an amazing few days of getting organized, learning the ropes and meeting some great new friends. Last evening popped into the SciFi and Fantasy Soc at 6pm. Met lots of people, snacked, drank wine, played a role play game and got home just after midnight having had a couple of drinks in the bar to round things off.

College seems to have a time of its own. You don't notice it passing because everything is so engrossing. Being in the library has also brought home to me the full meaning of L-space. Lost complete track of everything while I was there and even saw groups of students wandering lost among the shelves. As the librarians were dressed up for Fresher's Week, was disappointed not to see an orang utan shuffling round.

Being on campus late at night was slightly eerie - darkened buildings and few people around. I suppose weekends will seem strange too as so many students will be going home. My home is here for now so won't often be going away but there will be times when I have to drag myself out of my new comfort zone, such as a certain 40th birthday party in Dublin in a few weeks :-)

Roll on tomorrow and the last day without formal lectures. Monday will come all too soon!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reading, reading, reading

Got some reading lists today, as well as course hand-outs with more reading to do. Just as well I took advantage of the Library orientation session. The rest of the week will have to be cheap book hunting!

Mind you, have quite a lot of the books already and was thrilled to find The Jumblies and Jabberwocky on the poetry list! Next semester we'll even have Terry Pratchett on the reading list... don't think I'll have any problem finding a copy there as they are ALL on my bookshelf and have been read and re-read many times over :-)

Today was also Societies Day and, like so many other first years, joined far more than I can possibly attend but just getting regular emails about events from the Comedy Soc will be worth it. I do intend to get to the Literary and Philosophy Soc meetings and have volunteered to work for the college newspaper - have to keep my skills at subbing up to date. Of course I joined the SciFi and Fantasy soc... especially as three of my Discworld friends were there!

Only one more introductory lecture to get to tomorrow, as well as get my ID and pay some fees. Then it's down to the books.

Think my Edward Lear would be a good book to take to bed....
"They went to sea in a sieve they did,
In a sieve they went to sea..."

Monday, September 13, 2010

First lectures

Day one over and after attending a few introductory lectures have definitely decided what courses I'm going to do. Of course English and Spanish are a must, but after almost falling asleep/passing out in Classics I know it's not for me. The other two courses are going to be Philosophy and Celtic Civilisation. Despite the fact that it will be a heavy reading workload, it's a lovely combination and I'm interested in all four subjects.

As I walked to college this morning, kitted out against the rain in my jacket and baseball cap, satchel on my back, I couldn't help but think of the last time I was in a similar position and realised that, in many ways, I'm exactly the same person I was 30 years ago. Had the same feelings of anticipation that secondary and nursing school brought - what would I learn today? It reinforced once again that I'm on the right road and where I really should have been years ago. However, it's never to late and, after feeling a bit lost waiting for lectures to begin, it was so good to finally be in class again :-)

Was chatting to a few students who commented on the workload I'm giving myself but, as I told them, it's all going to help stave off the Alzheimer's for a few years LOL.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

NUIG puts out the welcome mat

What a day! The Fáilte Fest was one hell of a day to welcome all the Freshers (and their families). Took my gang down to join in all the fun and games and sample all the free food on offer. Was so good to meet up with new friends, bump into some old ones at the scifi/fantasy society, and then make some more friends.

Took part in the challenge provided - we had to collect six stickers each of various colours by participating in activities or just appearing at different places to pick up leaflets. Made it into the first 500 so got a voucher for free pizza and a drink (used by my youngest). Didn't win a prize in the draw, but it was a great afternoon and I certainly learnt as much today as yesterday.

Anyway, it's been a long day and lectures start tomorrow. This weekend has been totally amazing but it's only been a warm up for the real thing. Fun and games are part of college life but at the end of the day, getting a degree at the end of the three or four years is the goal and, while I fully intend to participate fully in college life, I want to study and pass my exams. Time to rest the brain for the day to come.


Have had the night to sleep on my first official day in college. Overall impression is 20/10. Was so much better than I had expected and confirmed to me that I'm taking the right path.

Started off in trepidation at having to go and meet a whole load of new people and face something completely new - Came home with one classmate and another student in tow, as well as some new phone numbers in my book! Also came home with the 'magic book' for first years; information on all the courses I'm interested in; my SU card and myriad flyers and leaflets. So much information to read up on and digest.

It was definitely a day with such an enormous amount of data input that it will take the week to get it all straight in my head. From the initial confusion of being put into groups for our mentors to take us to the most important parts of the campus and pass on some useful tips - e.g. get a photocopying card from the SU shop and use the copier in the little room under the library - until I finally relaxed with a fellow student in the bar, it was learning, learning, learning all the way. Names, places, dates, more names, courses, credits, exams.... Yes, it was stressed to us that exams are only a few weeks away and our first assignments will be due before we know it. Nothing like having the Dean put the fear of God into you before lunch!

After the talks it was time to explore course options and go to the SU and get talking to people. Just about everyone had told me that mature students tend to hang out together and be good friends. There are around 300 of us starting out this year - a great mixture of ages, nationalities and experiences - and the small group being shepherded around by our very nice mentor seemed to typify that: five nationalities between ten of us. I needn't have been so nervous. Everyone is pretty much in the same boat and we'll help each other paddle through college.

Had a lovely time chatting and getting to know one member of our group. Talk about a small world: one of her daughters has already mentioned at home the new boy in her class - my Rob! We met a 3rd year who took us under his wing and, after my new friend left, he introduced me to two other 1st years, one of whom I'll be studying Spanish with. A pint or two watching the second half of the football match and it was back home to continue the 'orientation' over pizza and beer. Had clean forgotten that many of my fellow students would be living nearby!

Today I've been going through some of the information and booking myself a locker. Later on there's the Fáilte Fest on campus - lots of fun for the whole family :-)

There's so much involved in this college lark - will feel dis-orientated for a while but happily so.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Confusing Campus

Today I ventured down to college to have a good look around and make sure I know where to be for Orientation. The campus seems so big and there are so many people everywhere! (The construction work and detours don't help).

Managed to get important things done like find registration and the fees office - they don't want me to give them anything until Monday :-)

While ambling around, read a lot of noticeboards. There is so much more to college than lectures and study. I'm glad I decided to go this route and not do distance learning. The number of societies and clubs is unbelievable. Saw one notice for a 'Black Books' marathon coming up soon and the college newspaper is looking for volunteers. It will be a bit of a 'kid in a sweetshop' thing when the time comes to choose what to get involved in.

College is a completely new world for me to explore and I intend to immerse myself into it as much as possible. It's just all so much to take in! Will have to try and break it down into bite-sizes to get the hang of it. Better get myself a metaphorical knife and fork....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

College Bound

Well, I’ve finally done it! Thirty one years after leaving school I’m now registered at NUIG to study for an Arts BA. I’m feeling very proud and very, very nervous. Proud because at long last I am realising a lifelong dream; nervous as hell because there is now no turning back and the next three years are going to test me to the limit. It will be a lot of study, reading and writing – all things I love doing – but also extremely challenging in that I need to learn good time-management; be more organised; still be mum to my three boys and somehow make ends meet without them suffering. It’s a tall order for anyone but will be worth it in the long run and I know I have it in me to make the most of the next three years.

As a mature student, my attitudes to college, as well as my aspirations, are different from those starting out fresh from school. I’ve done a lot with my life so far and know, pretty much, what I’m aiming for.

To me, unable for family reasons to attend university after sitting the Leaving Cert, the chance to get a degree at last is of huge personal importance. At 16, I wanted to study dentistry like my dad, but the past few years working for the local newspaper have given me the opportunity and training that has pointed the way to a career in publishing and writing. This is my goal and a BA is a means to an end in that respect. Yes, I was the tender age of 16 years sitting my Leaving Cert and as ignorant and innocent of the world as you could possibly imagine. I had the brains but not an ounce of sense to go with them! Now, hopefully, I have the sense – but is the brain still up to it? This is part of my own challenge in going to college: can I reach the potential that is/was there?

Won’t tax the old noggin too much on this first blog entry – more anon 