2019

This year will be a mixture of university lectures, working one day a week and looking after teenage kids (as much as they need looking after). I wonder how much energy and time I’ll have for my fiction writing? I’m really good at procrastinating. But if I avoid even the 20 minutes a day I’ve made compulsory for myself part of me feels sad that I’m not working on my dream.

I have a beautiful cover for the young adult fantasy I’ve been working on over the summer break. As soon as I saw this predesigned cover I knew it was perfect.

I could see the first half of the book and the ending clearly but the middle is more troublesome. I must keep going. I will get there.

What it’s like being a mature student at university – first year back

It’s been four weeks since I finished my university exams for the year. I’ve finally wound down and am feeling more relaxed. I had to get over the feelings of embarrassment and sadness over the times during the year when I felt really stupid.

One example was my first multi-choice test (worth 30% of the course). It was okay that I didn’t know to bring pencils, and that I learned not to be one of the last people to file into the lecture theatre, as then the only seats left with answer booklets remaining were in the middle of the rows already filled with students.

What wasn’t okay was realising I couldn’t understand how to complete the answer sheet. So embarrassing. The answer booklet didn’t contain any info about the half page of circles (as they assumed everyone knew what they were for). Just before the exam started, I had to raise my hand and tell the exam people in front of the whole 120 person room that I couldn’t read the answer sheet. The examiner was seriously taken aback and wasn’t much help, thankfully the person beside me had time to whisper a quick answer that gave me all the info I needed then the exam started. I cried silently for the first five minutes of the exam, (while I was answering the questions).  It was a disaster. But my result was okay.
Just one of about five times this year I didn’t know what to do.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Every assignment, essay and exam felt like climbing a steep mountain. Every single time. I know a bit more now. Next year might be easier but I’m not counting on it.

What makes it worthwhile is the times I sat in a lecture and loved listening and learning. The best when I loved the lecture so much I forgot the time and was surprised when the hour was finished. This happened most in social psychology. I love this topic.

What I’ve learned as a mature university student

  • I had to learn how to learn again. And it was hard.
  • I had to be okay with not understanding 13 lectures on stage two maths when I hadn’t studied maths for 25 years. I had to take notes and not worry or panic that I didn’t understand even a third of what the lecture was saying.
  • That I love qualitative research – hearing and making sense of people’s stories.
  • That I will never love but should try to understand quantitative statistics-based research.
  • That each of the five compulsory assignments was like climbing a steep mountain. Each one was different and required cumulative but also different skills every time. I learned so much. And am now grateful.
  • That I could fail terribly out of ignorance but then I would pick myself up, learn from my mistakes and do so much better next time.
  • That’s it’s lonely sitting by myself in the lecture theatre. It’s much better to say hi to the people around me. I’m grateful they kept chatting to me all semester.
  • That taking just one paper/course for the first semester was a really good idea. Next semester it will be two papers. Double the work but I think I’m ready.
  • It’s been great for my brain and my memory.

Purses for homeless women

What a great idea. In central Auckland city yesterday I saw a young woman crouch next to a homeless person to offer her a muesli bar. It warmed my heart to see this. The homeless lady smiled and accepted the food.

I care but never know what to do when I see homeless people. I tend to give money every year to the Auckland City Mission as they help. But I don’t stop on the street.

Back at university

I’m back at Auckland University! Twenty-five years after I completed a Bachelor’s degree in English. It feels strange to be back there in 2018 but exciting. I’m completing one psychology paper this semester just to get started. The paper is called Producing Psychological Knowledge but really it could be called Statistical Analysis of Quantifiable Research. it’s really hard for someone who hasn’t studied statistics since school.

This is an example paragraph from the second lecture:

“To keep with Plato’s terms, just remember, if you have the value in front of you, it’s an instance. When we get to things like calculating chi-square, t, or correlation coefficients, the value we calculate is an instance of the form value those calculations produce if we could test the whole population.”

I have to work really hard to understand this. And it scares me. But I need to understand this and I will get there.

Words spoken to children have immense power

The words you speak to children have tremendous power. Think back on a time when someone said something to you when you were young and it changed the course of your life.

For all of us, including children, this is true: What we believe we become.

Thanks to Barb Schmidt for these words. I would add we can still expect our kids to be polite and respectful too.