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 