Planes, trains and academia …..or rather cars, croissants and a small matter of anxiety

So this blog post has been written over the first 3 weeks of my journey deeper into the academic world. It’s been a bit traumatic, a bit wonderful and a bit in-between. It’s also a bit (a lot) of rambling too, so please forgive me as my head was mashed for 3 weeks and I’m only just coming out of the fog now (I hope) at the start of week 4.  The story so far…..

Week 1

And it’s here. My first proper week after the induction and it starts with my first seminar. I won’t go into detail about the seminar itself (which I really enjoyed) but more the experience of me going to Uni itself. Of course I arrived far too early, 10.30 for a 1pm seminar and horror of horrors there were only approximately 3 (no lie) spaces left in a car park which holds 1200 I think. Anyway I parked up and decided to leave earlier on Thursday. I knew I’d be early, obviously, so I went to the library and sat there for an hour or so after the obligatory visit to Caffe Nero.

I loved the seminar, felt very engaged and energised about the module and full of relief that I’d didn’t get a sense of ‘oh good god what have I done’ whilst sitting there.

My second Uni day that week brought even more angst as I got the very last car park space and had to send Mike a photo of my car hanging over the edge of the white line, to check it would be ok, in case I was penalised by the car park gestapo when I came back.  There’s definitely a pattern beginning to form here, of me suffering from car parkingitis and there’s even a word for it according to Google: raedamaphobia.  Apparently raedam is Latin for parking.  Hmmm.  Didn’t come across any Roman parking when I was doing my last 3 Classics modules with the OU….but I like a label and it’s good to put a name to it even if it’s a load of complete b*ll*cks.

Moving on and the second seminar was great too. This time there were 14 of us split into groups. I wonder what they think when they look at me. Do they think ‘old biddy, what’s she doing here?’ (which is what I think they must think) but they really don’t give that impression at all, I’m treated the same as all of them and it’s just my head kicking off as usual.

Interesting thought – the most concern I have about going to Uni to study for an MA and all that that involves, including being one of the oldest mature students on campus, is about the bloody parking! That’s a good thing I think? What that says to me is that I made the right decision to come here. I know it’s only one week in but it’s great and I’m loving it. I know I’ve got a LOT of work ahead of me. I know I’ll have to keep fighting the rising panic which bubbles under when I think of that, but I also know that I’m still excited to be studying what I’m studying, I’m actually enjoying the readings we’ve been given and love the energy, enthusiasm and keenness from my fellow students. So onto week 2…..

Week 2

So the start of week 2 arrives and with it comes a bit more of the creeping anxiety that would slowly engulf me if I let it.  But as I find myself stuck in slow (but thankfully) moving traffic on the M62 I’m reminded of the reason I’m doing the early start (7.30 from now on) which is to get an easy car park space and as I arrive there at precisely 8.55 I find LOADS of spaces and the utter sense of relief I feel makes me feel a) stupid and b) bloody thankful. 🎉🎉🎉

I also manage to get a preferred spot at Caffe Nero for what must be my 232nd croissant since I started at Leeds and no doubt I will suffer for this when I get weighed tomorrow but no matter, the sun is shining, the car is happily parked and I’m happily full of coffee and croissants and sat writing the blog.

Ok so the paragraph above was written on Monday. On the Thursday I had a bit of a meltdown actually into my coffee and croissant for reasons unknown other than I felt an urge to cry.  Perched as I was on a high stool and table in full view of the cafe I tried surreptitiously to dab my leaking eyes and to get a grip on myself.  Eventually I managed to do this but not before I’d sent an SOS text to Mike saying I needed help and a request to talk things through when I got home, rather than pretending everything was ok.  I also messaged Laura who suggested a meet up and chat over coffee which thankfully came about 2 days later and she soon put me right  Thanks (again) Laura!

Week 3

And I’m sat here in Caffè Nero again, reflecting on the previous 2 weeks.  Taking aside the module itself, which I’m still loving, I think what’s thrown me (and thrown me it most definitely has) is the actual experience of going to University itself with it being such a massive change from what I’m used to.  I think it’s a lot to take in when you’re surrounded by people who are used to Uni/school life and I’m used to work/children/studying in the comfort of my home kind of life. So most of all I think I need to be kind to myself and give myself a break and realise I’m ALLOWED to feel a bit unsettled, or a bit unsure or a bit……oh I don’t know….like a rabbit caught in headlights.  And every time I think of that phrase this image of John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles comes to mind…

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This MUST be what I look like??

I bloody hope I don’t actually look like that walking round campus, although I really feel like I do!! 😂😂 Go figure.

But week 3 was the week in which I think it suddenly began to turn around for me.  I had a couple of great meetings with potential supervisors for my dissertation, both of whom are keen to work with me (hurrah!) and I’ve possibly found a fab dissertation topic to happily engulf myself into for the next 2 years.  Plus over the weekend I didn’t get any of the crushing and soul destroying feelings in my stomach which I’ve been getting for the past 4 weeks.  The early departures for Leeds are turning out to be great for very comfortably getting a car parking space and I’m even enjoying the early morning commute along the M62 listening to a mix of Chris Moyles, Radio 5 live and Radio 4 .  Maybe the tide is turning…..I really hope so.  I don’t think I can fill any more of my poor body with croissant comfort food and I need to get back into the no carb zone quickly.  So fingers crossed and hopefully the tide has turned. Till next time…..

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