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A Day in the life…

It seemed like only yesterday that my baby girl was taking her first steps and then all of a sudden she was going off to college. Guess what? So was I!

I was 41 years of age when I started in BCFE last year to study General Media. I had wanted to do this for years but it took me a long time to make the decision to actually take the plunge and go back to college. I had worked as a nurse for years but had been “a stay at home mum” for just over two years when I decided to go back to college. I was a mum of four children. They were 4, 7, 8, and 19 years of age the week I started college. My daughter started college the same week as me, but due to careful planning on her part she started in UCD doing an Arts Degree, (she crossed BCFE off her CAO form when she realised I would be going there too).

The last time I had been in a classroom was 1986. Admittedly I trained to be a general nurse from 1987 to 1990 but that was totally different. We were taught for 8 weeks a year in a classroom situation by the nun’s and then had to be part of the work force in the hospital 6 days a week for the rest of the year, so we weren’t ‘real students’ so to speak.

When I started in BCFE things had changed so much since ‘my day’. For a start there was technology. When I was doing the leaving cert computers were only coming in. You were only allowed do computers as a subject if you weren’t doing the leaving cert (my daughter goes mad when I say this, but it was true). As I did do the leaving cert I avoided learning how to use computers. I then politely avoided them throughout my working life as I just use to get the secretaries to put the patient’s information on the computers. When I started in BCFE I just presumed you hand wrote all the essays, I couldn’t believe that we actually had to do a ‘word document’….a what?  I think I tested the patience of a lot of the college students in my class due to my lack of computer knowledge. We won’t even mention the pulling hair out of heads that went on in the Page layout and design class last year. All I can say is thanks be to god we only had to so that in first year for my sake as well as theirs.

It was an actual miracle that I got through first year with all the technological equipment that we had to use. On the first occasion that we had to do an interview by ourselves for our Radio News class, I think it took me four attempts of interviewing the person until the interview was on the voice recorder. I think I forgot to turn it on the first time, the second time I forgot to turn the volume up, the third time there was too much background noise, so finally, on the fourth attempt where both myself and the interviewee sound very strained and robot like, the interview was complete.

The other big problem I had was trying to manage four children, well three small children and a teenager just discovering the freedom of college. I felt like I’d run a marathon every day by the time I got to college. Every day had new challenges, ranging from the boys being sick or hospitalised due to various illnesses, furry balls falling off Christmas play costumes, one of them crying because he didn’t like his runners or that his jacket was too fat.  All these issues would add to the stress levels because I was trying to get them out the door to school so I could get to college on time. By the time I arrived to college I felt like I had run a marathon, such was the achievement.

Mature Student

Here is an excerpt from my diary last year, just a typical day in my life while in college:

5th October 2010

This morning Cian feels his asmatha is getting worse so he didn’t want to go into school. I had college today from 11am to 3pm so I had to get him to go in. I felt he was ok so I gave him his inhaler. I said it to his teacher whose eyes go so big when I go to tell him anything; I assured him that Cian would be fine and that if he got worse to phone me immediately. Talk about feeling like a bad parent.
On the way to school this morning Jamie started to cross the road in front of a car. He said I said it was ok for him to cross, I’d actually told him to wait! The car came around the corner so fast I had to scream at him so he would stop in time and not end up under the car. He got such a fright he threw his scooter on the ground, cursed at me and then hid behind the wall for about 20 mins. I couldn’t lift him with the scooter and the bag in my hand so I had to leave him there, (with the lovely helpful lollipop lady keeping an eye on him) and go over to the school, drop the scooter and go back and get him. Jesus, I was exhausted by the time I got to college. This afternoon, I left college 10 mins early, drove home like the clappers. I just got to the school a couple of minutes late, all of my 3 boys in the yard waiting for me with another mum minding them for me. I went home, made homemade pancakes for them as they are starving as for some reason they don’t eat there lunch. (Every day I go to Superquinn, I buy Ham and Rolls. I go home, make up these rolls put them in there lunch box. They come home from school, I open their lunch boxes, I throw the uneaten roll in the bin and then the whole process starts again!). I dropped them to Smash Hit Tennis from 4.30pm to 5.30pm.  I have no idea what I am cooking for dinner, they have karate from 6.30pm to 7.30pm and home work still has to be done!!!! Not to mention all the college work I have to do.

As you can see my life is hectic at the moment since I started college in 2009 but I wouldn’t have it any other way. College is the best thing that has happened to me in a long time and I love every moment of it. I howl most days when the stress levels and workload gets too much (my classmates will verify this, they just politely ignore me now and go for a smoke!). I am so lucky to have had this opportunity to go to college at my age and study something that I have wanted to study for a long time. These two years have changed my life for the better and I would say to anyone that has an ambition to go back to college, and do something that they have always wanted to do, ( as the slogan on my good looking swimming instructors T shirt always said )“ JUST DO IT”.

Written by: Carla Mc Elwee

Proofed by: Dara O’Conor

Uploaded by: Emma Duggan

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