First year perspectives from Cathryn Hurd

What a Year!

It might sound strange calling a blog post “What a Year” in the middle of June but my academic year has recently drawn to a close. Today I received the results of all my hard work, tears, often shouted “I can’t do this” and head-stuck-in-a-book weekends. I passed. Not only did I pass but I averaged a 1st for my first year at university doing my English degree. I’m completely over the moon, ecstatic and somewhat amazed at myself.

A year ago, I was counting down the weeks until I started uni. Nervous about whether I would: –

  1. Understand what the lectures said or whether they did actually speak in a foreign language that everyone else would understand except me.
  2. Be able to read all the books on the course and understand them!
  3. Fit in. This was a biggie for me. Being a “mature” student, the worry was that I would be in a classroom full of young people who would look at me like an uncool old fart!

Ok. So sometimes it did feel like they were talking a foreign language and sometimes I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about but that was ok. The lecturers were always happy to explain or go through anything whether after class or in their appointment times, which in all honesty they were always pushing to get us to come and see them! Biscuits were usually offered and a nice chat so I have taken them up on this a couple of times.

I did manage to read all of the books throughout the year although I didn’t understand some of them but that was ok too. Everybody has their own take on a book, whether you like it, hate it or simply don’t get it, you’re never going to like everything you read. That’s just a matter of taste and preference. The books were always interesting though and at times a little bit weird, (I’m thinking Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead).

Well I wasn’t the only “old person”. There was quite a large number of mature students and the class was a real mix of ages. Everyone was really friendly and I have got to know some lovely people. We have quite the group of older students who meet up in the library for coffee and a chat, whether it’s about assignments, kids or the specials coming out in Aldi. God, we’re so rock and roll!

I was nervous last year before I started. I suppose you could call it fear of the unknown. Apart from a short course with the Open University a few years back, it had been 26 years since I was in education and that’s a bloody long time! I cannot begin to explain though how glad I am that I attended an Open Day last summer and was blown away by what Staffs Uni said to me. It didn’t matter that I had no A-levels. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t fresh out of college. I had life experience and a willingness to learn and that’s what mattered. My life seemed to open up at that point and I haven’t looked back since. There have been talks from past graduates about their career paths, trips to the theatre, a weekend away in Yorkshire to see the Bronte parsonage and so many more highlights.

So, for anyone out there thinking about starting university or going back to education, I would wholeheartedly recommend it. Don’t be nervous. Yes, it’s life changing but in such a good way and the people you meet and the experiences you have along the way make it all worthwhile.