I was not back home from my trip to Prague for more than twenty-four hours when things began to feel real. With several emails from my university in my inbox, it became apparent that the daydreaming and imaging is over: I am going to be a student! Excitement is mixed with apprehension as I am making my way to Newcastle for registration. Am I going to manage? Am I going to be good enough? What if I fail? The overwhelming feelings of insecurity fill me again, recollections of my application process still fresh in my memory.
It is more or less about jumping through the hoops and hoping for the best. One step at a time and you will get there eventually. With my new student card in my handbag, I am sitting next to an old lady on the bus home. She is keen to chat; it turns out she is a retired nurse. “Why don’t you study nursing?” she asks as if that is what everybody ought to study. For her it was the best job in the world. Because I would be terrible at it, I would not be good with patients and because I could not do night shifts as my energy levels can be very low (a beginning of an autoimmune disease as my GP tells me, looking slightly worried, at my recent blood test results), that would be an honest answer. Instead, I reply that only very special people can become nurses and doctors, and I don’t have that special IT that you need for those particular professions. It also happens to be true.
It still does not mean that I am going to succeed in my chosen path but at least it is something I really love and enjoy. Perhaps my confidence I have lost while being at home with the kids, will return, or some of it. After all, studying is also about growing as a person and broadening your horizons, not only about ticking the boxes on one’s imaginary list of “things-to-do-in- your-life”. I firmly believe that one’s education does not end just by obtaining a piece of paper from a school or a college; education is a permanent state of mind, asking questions, being inquisitive about the world around you.
Inside, I feel twenty, with the same curiosity that has not dwindled over the years. I know I am not twenty, not only by looking in the mirror every day, inspecting my wrinkles and greys, but also because when I happen to talk to someone who is twenty, or even thirty, I can tell. No one can take away those years of living from me. I think they call it “experience”. Luckily the girl at the front door at the registration for the Newcastle University, did not ask me where my son/daughter was but kindly assumed I was a student.
Sadly, I also missed a mature students’ meeting as it was happening as I sat on the plane from Prague. I am going to attend a meeting for postgraduate students on Monday and an Induction Lecture on Tuesday. My husband and I still have to work out how we are going to tackle the burning issue of childcare. I know that the Newcastle University supports parent students but only if you are a UK national and an undergraduate student, so no childcare bursary for me. And then, in the first week of October, off we go, into Semester One.
There is no denying, that I am not your average student. For a start, I am probably older than some of the tutors I am going to have. Also, having a young family means that I had to choose from the universities that were in the commutable distance and then look at their programmes. No wild parties for me then although even all those years ago when I was young, I was not a party-goer either. Back then, I kept rushing from lectures, seminars, to various jobs and to study in the library. So it will be a familiar territory, running from one place to another, planning meals ahead, superorganising everyone and everything, while trying to fit in with all my course work without disturbing the family life. This time round my day job is unpaid: two little boys under the age of five.
Natalie is originally from Prague, Czech Republic. However, she has lived in the UK for a while with her British husband and two young sons. In her native country, she is a published author under the pen-name Natalie Nera. She starts a part-time Master's degree in Creative Writing this autumn at the University of Newcastle. You can find more information on Natalie, here.
Note: 'Student Blog' pieces highlight the student perspective on issues relating to ProtectED. Consequently, this article reflects the views of the author and not ProtectED.