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?