Saturday, 23 April 2011

College - Week 2...

College - week 2)

Monday morning saw a far more confident peroxide blonde striding into college than the previous week. I’d made some new friends, just as I’d instructed my own offspring to do all those years ago, and I was only a teeny bit frightened.

I immediately bumped into an old chum who I’d spent my Planning Period with, so I had a lovely surprise to start my day with.

Five hours of counselling followed ……I hasten to add that I was participating in a course, and not undergoing prolonged therapy….. which I’m enjoying immensely.

During my luxuriously long (one hour) lunch break, I skipped merrily off to the student supplies shop to purchase the scientific calculator that I shall apparently need for my numeracy lessons. I was deeply disappointed to discover that it totally lacked any James Bond type features that its title insinuates.

Whilst inside the shop I bumped into two more friends from my January stint …..I see a pattern of bumping emerging here….. and the following five minutes was a whirl of "What days are you in?" and "Have you seen so-and so?" etc.

I’ve never particularly liked Tuesdays….and today was no exception… although I accept it could have been far, far worse that it actually was.

I’d managed to unnecessarily work myself up into a complete tizwas over I.T. first thing.  This was very silly, as I’d already decided that I’d attend lessons in future, rather than work from home, and I was only a week behind everyone else, and knew full well that I’d soon catch up.

I’m sure that I must’ve driven my poor tutor insane with my constant attention seeking, for which I can only apologise profusely, and claim temporary insanity, brought about by deep-rooted insecurities regarding my computing abilities. I’m pleased to be able to announce that I have indeed now caught up, and 'normality' has been restored.

After a quickly snatched Nescafe, it was on to the delights of prime numbers and the like. I had no real need for using my posh new calculator but I couldn’t resist pressing a few buttons to double-check my counting.

Another rushed lunch break preceded a guided tour of the big, scary building commonly referred to as the library. With my inbuilt satellite navigation system switched permanently to the 'off' position, I struggled to grasp the concept of the 'circular' room that spanned two floors. No doubt, over the coming months the layout will become more and more familiar to me…fingers crossed.

A session on the PC's in F6 was fortunately a hassle-free exercise, for me, and by the time it was 3pm and 'writing skills' my mind had wandered far, far away from academia and into the realms of what to cook for tea. Paragraphing proved to be my downfall, as I failed dismally in every exercise.

Thursday saw me parting company with my brain. My timetable dictates that on the three occasions each week that my presence is requested at college early morning, all three are at different times.

Today, as I confidently strode along to my 10 o'clock lesson, it suddenly dawned on me that my Thursday class actually begins at half past nine.

Running, at my age, is not an option, unless it’s a matter of life or death, so the best I could muster was a brisk walk as far as the nearest taxi rank. I could ill afford the £4.50 it cost to get me to my class on time, but it did teach me an important lesson regarding importance of the daily ritual known as 'checking your timetable'.

I’ll choose to use this as my explanation for being totally unable to remember the first hour of sociology. Good job I made notes, as I’ll hopefully be able to catch up once the amnesia wears off.

As a female, I pride myself on the ability to multi-task on a daily basis, however, this skill doesn’t apparently stretch to the talent of being able to look, listen and write simultaneously.

My eye-brain-ear-hand co-ordination is somewhat lacking…non-existent to be precise. I’m more than aware that in order to succeed at higher education I’ll have no choice but to develop this seventh sense.

Making notes, whilst copying from the board while listening to the tutor…..and understanding what is being said…, by far, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do so far.

The competition of seeing who can get to B Block refectory the quickest for a gulp of coffee and a rapid munch on whatever snack you can grab from the till area, seems to be hotting up. I see that several of my fellow students have got it down to a fine art and even manage to catch a few puffs on a ciggie before charging back to F6 for Act Two.

Friday saw my brief return to the premises for the first of my academic tutoring sessions. K355 was previously uncharted territory for me, and all in all I thought it a positive experience …for me at any rate. I can’t vouch for my tutor.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

College - week 1...

The trials and tribulations of a first year access student.
College – week 1)

When my children were small, I distinctly remember marching them confidently up to the school gates and telling them "There's nothing to be frightened of. Now run along and go and make some new friends".

Hindsight’s a wonderful thing, and only now am I painfully aware of just how inadequate my so-called words of comfort must’ve seemed to my tots.

The Planning Period completed, and my induction done, I had no one to hold MY sweaty little palm, and confidently tell me cheery things as I walked through the main entrance for the first time as a 'proper' student.

Well, there I was. All I had to do now was locate the notice board to discover where I needed to be. But where WAS the notice board?

My induction hadn’t included a guided tour, or an ordnance survey map, and it’d been several months since I’d last hopelessly struggled to find my way from A Block to B Block during the Planning Period.

After a minor panic attack, I managed to establish the whereabouts of the elusive notice-board wall, and, as luck would have it, my classroom was conveniently located nearby.

Throughout the day I was faced with minor difficulties ….the shock to the system of the 'teenage rampage' approach to canteen etiquette for one thing…..but I appear to have come out of it relatively unscathed.

“Homework” is a word I consistently nag my children with, but they now have the objectionable pleasure of turning the tables, and the phrase "Mum, have you done your homework yet?" merrily rings out of their mouths with unnerving ease. My replies are generally less than charitable.

My second day was fraught with navigational woes "B" Block means nothing to me when the building has no discernable "B" on it!, but I thankfully managed to follow a couple of familiar faces, and arrived at my destinations more-or-less on time.

My over enthusiasm to inform my I.T. tutor that I have a previously gained computer qualification earned me an Accreditation for Prior Learning pack to take home and complete at my leisure….as long as my leisure ends before October at any rate.

This, with hindsight, was probably not a wise move on my part, due to the displacement activities that I’m becoming all too familiar with. I’ll endeavour to attend my lessons as originally planned to ensure that my work is actually completed ….I shall be less inclined to attack the I.T. suite with Mr Sheen than I am my own home.

Fortunately, I’m not the type of person who harbours deep phobias regarding long multiplication and long division, so my numeracy class went reasonably well, all things considered.

The announcement that we all need to purchase a scientific calculator within the next couple of weeks was another item that ought to be added to the "Things we should've told you about during induction" list ….along with “abandon any quaint notions that you will be spared homework during your first week”.

Thirty minutes is, in my opinion, a ridiculously short period of time for lunch. The fact that I spent the entire afternoon suffering the ill effects of indigestion only served to prove the point. Maybe I’ll opt to bring sandwiches next week, although I have visions of my tutor not being particularly impressed at the picnic module being introduced into the curriculum.

By the third day I’d become over-confident, and in making what was to prove a somewhat futile attempt at a short cut, I became hopelessly lost.
That’ll teach me!

I’ve also discovered that my own teenagers are not the loudest creatures on the planet. The noisiest beings are, in fact, those who stand a few feet away from the windows of F6 puffing on a Benson and Hedges.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Week 8...Yawn...

Week 8) Yawn.
The reasons behind my mid-morning fatigue remain unclear. It’s fair to say, however, that I was utterly exhausted from the onset, and the thought of two long hours of monotonous droning on about the source of the Nile did nothing to entice me out of my coma-like state. I shall therefore name this condition WEA syndrome. A psychosomatic slumber-inducing ailment, which afflicts those devoid of a pension book on a once weekly basis, in my case on Wednesdays.
It was clearly going to be one of those days when I entered the classroom in the middle of know it all in full political debate with his long suffering neighbour.
In a futile bid to avoid the inevitable, I spun round to make good my escape to the less politically inclined ladies lavatory, but I was evidently not quite swift enough.
"And why aren't you protesting in London?" was my rather extraordinary greeting from the old bore.
As class rebel, certain disruptive activities are habitually expected of me, but I don’t consider marching in the capital as one of them.
Momentarily lost for words, it suddenly dawned on me that he was harping on about the US Presidential fiasco, and when I replied with a plain and simple "Because I couldn't care less" the old fool’s jaw hit the deck in absolute astonishment.
With that, I wandered off in the general direction of the coat rack, leaving his bemused companion to cop the flack.
It did rather beg the question that if he felt so passionately about it, why wasn't HE there, rather than sitting on his fat backside annoying the rest of us, but life really is too short to be asking know it all anything.
I can’t recall large parts of today's lecture, and my reasonably valid excuse is that when bombarded with dozens of strange place names, bizarre tribal names, approximate dates of particular conflicts simultaneously, the little power switch situated deep within my overburdened brain automatically switches to the off position. (Assuming that it was in the on position to begin with).
Nescafe at elevenses didn't really help, despite the three heaped spoonfuls of sugar I dumped into my cup, and I was highly suspicious of his motives when know it all offered me some of his firewater. I figured that alcohol would probably not be a very good idea for session two, and I became even more unsettled when, after complaining about the numbness in my legs that the plastic chairs had bestowed upon me, the dodgy old perv offered to give them a rub!
I declined his offer as politely as I could under the circumstances, and sought sanctuary back in the classroom.
Everyone had been complaining about the lecturer during the break. He has a rather disconcerting tendency to skip from 500AD to the 17th century in one breath, and then back to pre-history for no particular reason. This makes note-taking rather a hit and miss affair at best. I’ve actually now opted to wait until the very end of the course and take up his offer of a set of photocopied lecture notes, rather than make any more attempts to spell weird and wonderful place names, spoken by a twit with a bad speech impediment.
A strange and highly irritating beeping sound had been occurring every 15 minutes throughout the morning, and it was only at the very end of our session that the lecturer drew attention to the shiny new watch he was wearing. It transpired that he hadn’t had the time to read the instructions regarding switching the damned thing off before class.
I have a sneaking suspicion he deliberately set it to go off at regular intervals in order to ward off any potential snoring.
I’m now feeling quite unwell, bearing all the familiar signs of an imminent cold.
I'm not entirely certain which particular decrepit crone passed me their old person germs, but it only adds weight to my theory that the WEA is, without a doubt, bad for your health…..and therefore I shall not be returning once I’m back to good health. Life really is too short!