For the first time in over 20 years, I went to face to face university lectures this week. I was starting to feel like a school kid the night before school returns. Anxious if I went to the wrong room, what would my “teacher” be like and how much work would they give us?
So come Monday morning I packed my back pack with everything I “needed” and threw it over my shoulder as if ready for military combat…it had everything in it including a safe salad sandwich and banana.
The morning starts on a high the moment I see the correct room number and I take a very reserved seat two rows from the back to go unnoticed in class till I “felt my way around”.
The lecturer walks in, older and also looking frazzled trying to make sure the hot water urn and morning tea was set up for us later in the morning. I was fortunate having started the course with another student I had met on an online course so I felt like I had my “security blanket”.
So the day starts, and I pull out the notebook, the computer, the textbook, the unit outline, the pens, my glasses, water bottle and so on and so on…by this stage there was no room for me to sit! The lecturer starts quite assertively, but with a somewhat warm tone, about what is the expectation and if you miss one day you are out of the course, no excuses! She also reminded us if we were late we were out of the course…the heart starts to palpitate. Not long after this warning, several young students walk in, wit no apology for being late, and the “verbal bullets” start to fire from the lecturer about being late. She scared the “cookies out of me”. Interestingly, these “seasonal young uni students” weren’t even fazed without even an apology for being late and they calmly sat in a chair.
The morning progresses easily enough as I take volume after volume of notes trying to cram in 12 weeks of “knowledge” into 4 days, and the most important “learning” is called out…”Morning tea time!”…ohhh, how nice to let my brain pressure relax for ten minutes while I wait in a line of 80 students in a ten minute break to get a cup of tea in a styrofoam cup. What was funny was to watch the younger students grab handfuls of biscuits as if they hadn’t eaten for a month. Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t the financial struggling students I remember…they were just young! First to go was the scotch finger biscuits followed by a mass attack at the chocolate biscuits. I realised how old I was when I was happy to see a milk arrowroot biscuit!
After introducing myself to several “safe” students we walked back to our seats ready to hit the onslaught of passing of information. Our lecturer was just “volumes and volumes of historical knowledge”, with a very compassionate heart. Straight shooter but, being older, also had many life and family experiences to share with us. Page after page we wrote, chapter after chapter we read, reading after reading we downloaded and it never ended. Oh please God, surely it was lunch time cause my brain felt like a “pop corn bag in a microwave oven”.
“Ok, we will break for lunch and be back here in 40 minutes”…yes! Grabbing my now unsavoury salad sandwich, we walk out to get fresh air after being in an air-conditioned room for the last 4 1/2 hours. During this lunch break, we also had to find out how we were going to get back to our hotel room being students from out of town with no car. We asked administration, we asked the security guard, the maintenance man and noone could tell us how to get “home”…we were going to have to walk home for about 3 kilometres. Sounds ok except that my dear study partner is about to have a baby, and I have never done a course in midwifery!
We eventually start talking to a fellow mature age student who says the magic woods “I’ll take you home if you like”….oh, what relief!
We continue to embrace every minute of the lunch break out in the sunshine and walk slowly back to the lecture for an afternoon tutorial which we survived as well. You need to remember I haven’t done this in over 20 years but sitting back in my seat in the classroom and watching fresh faced students come in as if ready to participate in a fashion show…what every happened to shorts and a t’shirt when I went to uni.And to listen to the conversations of “younger students” of where they were heading after class. Late nights and who was staying at who’s place this weekend, and I was only hoping to go my “hotel home” and have a shower and watch some news..oh man, I feel like I should be polishing my walker frame already!
This pretty much continued for the week but I watched these “fresh facers” talk their way through a class as I struggled to hear what was being said. How were they going to get their , what seemed like, “5 million assignments” done when they didn’t hear a word that was said in class. At that point I wished I had a “sponge hammer” to bop them on the head so as to hear what was going on. Instead I watched them and figured I simply missed that back when I went to uni.I am sure they would get together at some point and “share notes”.
What was interesting was that many of these students were doing their “Masters” in this course…how could they be masters when they had never done a practical day of work in their field! Boy, I have missed so much in my life cause I always thought a “Master” was someone who had the knowledge AND the experience…I must have missed the “understanding bus” along time ago!
This pretty much was my outline for the week, go to uni, survive the day and write volumes of notes, and return to the hotel room to deflate my brain. Four days of this and I am exhausted! I sit now ready to start my first assignment the morning after the last lecture so as to get a “head start”…and I am struggling to start to write, where do I start?? I have learnt so much!