Friday, 7 October 2011

My first day of school

I sat huddled in the corner of the lecture theatre trying to pretend I was invisible as scores of third year undergraduates poured into the pews pushing me further and further into my seat of ageing oblivion. I don't belong here do I? What am I doing in a lecture theatre surrounded by twenty year old students? I must stick out like a sore thumb, sat there with my bought-not-borrowed course book and the keys to my mortgaged house and bought-outright car in my bag right next to the keys that let me into the building I've worked in full time for the past eight years.

What am I doing here? I feel like such a fraud. Any minute now someone is going to turn around and ask what the hell I'm doing here, then they're gonna call security and have me escorted out like a charver caught shoplifting in JD Sport.

But then the Professor walks in and launches rather excitingly into an 'Introduction to the Social Policy and Society module' and my fears quell as everyone's attention is thankfully shifted to him. He's quite a lively fella and I immediately get the impression that I'm going to enjoy his classes. He's the Professor of Social Policy at Durham University and introduces the module with an eager infectious vibrancy; just what I need to get me right into the thick of this course.

I know there aren't many postgrads on this module compared to undergrads but I only recognise one other person, Rachael who I met at induction on Tuesday but my corner-huddling worked against me as she'd managed to come in and sit down without having seen me so I'm transported back to my first day of school where no one knows me and no one wants to speak to me because I'm the weird looking kid who doesn't belong.

Professor Greener is still introducing the module and announces that he has a module guidebook to hand out but that there are different ones for undergrads and postgrads. I already have one, I printed it out at work thanks to my continuing paranoia that I've forgotten something drastically important so when I saw it on DUO (Durham Online, Durham Uni's version of Blackboard) I printed it off along with every other minor snippet of information available for my course at that time for the fear that I'd be castigated and given a dunces hat if I didn't. As it turns out I was far better prepared than many having already read through the introduction lecture and module guide and having already bought the set module book which Prof G has just told everyone they need to get hold of before next weeks lecture.

He hands out piles of the undergrad module guide and asks the students to pass them round and then announces that the best way to hand out the postgrad ones is for the postgrads to make themselves known so he can give them individually.

I put my hand up along with the five other postgrads in the eighty-strong room. A mixture of embarrassment, pride and hubris wash over me all at once as for the first time the magnitude of my situation hits me. I'm a postgrad.

I really am. And I made it into my first choice university without any question of my abilities. I think that justifies my brief moment of self-importance, don't you.


  1. Hi Caz,
    congratulations on your first day! You have every reason to be proud of yourself, you are doing great!


  2. Hi

    Best of luck with your studies, you seem very busy (relationship, full time day job, freelancing, OU studies and Masters at Durham).

    I am taking a 1yr break from the OU, as I am starting a new course at another insitution. I will carry on with the OU after I have finished my new course, as I want to achieve the best marks possible.

    Good luck

  3. Hi

    I read your latest post "Something has to give... but what?"

    Is the reason you are still studying with the OU so that you can still blog for them officially ?

    I know you have a deep affection for the OU, they gave you a chance to study and achieve a degree.

    But the pressure of an MA is going to increase along with maintaining your day job.

    Defer your OU studies and focus on your MA, you can always come back to the OU next year, the same cant be said with Durham.

    Good luck

  4. Hi Anon, thanks for the comment.

    It's a tough one for me for a number of reasons. I'm not actually doing as bad as I made out, I'm up to date with all of my work and am coping fine in the general sense. It was just this crazy busy week made me think what would happen if it got to the point where I wasn't coping fine, what would I be willing to sacrifice?

    Obviously my MA HAS to take priority now so that stays. My Open Uni study is minimal at the minute and doesn't really intrude into MA time to be honest. I'm on the road towards two certificates with the OU too so I want to try and muddle on and get them done before fees increase. Writing for Platform isn't something I would stop either because if I wasn't writing it for Platform I'd be writing it on here anyway so the way I see it, writing for Platform means I get to stay in touch with the OU community and speak to other students which I think is so vital at a distance learning institution.

    If anything gives at all it would be social stuff. I actually do a lot of social stuff with my better half so if I had to cut down on that it wouldn't be a big deal and I'd be prioritising the more important things at the minute (because let's face it, I'm not going to be doing them forever, it's a short-term sacrifice).

    So for now I think I'm doing alright but it's something I'll just have to keep an eye on as time goes on and if my circumstances or ability to cope changes then I'll take action then.

    Nice to know someone's concerned though :o)

  5. Hiya again

    From my previous post, I want you to achieve your academic dreams and glad to read, things are not as bad as you made out to be.

    I still have fond memories of redoing the potato experiment as I left it too long in my microwave, and second time around with balsamic vinegar and sea salt added, tasty snack.

    You are clearly destined to be an academic, I have read all your posts (here and on the OU) since you have started your journey. You love studying and it is a shame you can't do it for a living right now.

    I look forward in reading your future posts.

  6. Congratulations on becoming a postgraduate. I recognise your behaviour in the classroom of hanging out in the corner ;-)

  7. Well done on becoming a postgraduate, hope they don't ware you out too much in the class room and you still have time for your blog.