Twenty three years after I graduated I am officially a student again. I have my student card, I’ve ordered my NUS card and have a brand spanking new pencil case. I’ve also got a bad set of nerves as I return to education.
You see, I’ve enrolled to do an MA in Creative Writing at York St John University. This seemed like an excellent idea when I filled in the application form. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for about ten years but health problems and work pressures have always got in the way. Then when I was in Cornwall in June I decided that this was the year I was actually going to do it.
I went to meet the course tutor who reassured me that genre writing was fine and they wouldn’t try to turn me into a literary writer. So I applied and a few weeks later I got offered a place. Then the reading list arrived and the nerves kicked in. You see, there are some serious books on that list. I don’t even understand the title of the top one!
Okay, so I’ve written two novels now. But I’ve not studied writing apart from the odd evening class (and some of them were very odd, let me tell you!). I’ve got an A level in English Literature but that’s back from the time of big hair and serious shoulder pads. Could I resurrect the part of my brain that had once been able to talk about the organic timescales in Wuthering Heights?
Well, only time will tell. And in the meantime I’ve a whole lot of other things to get used to. Apparently they don’t have a library anymore. It’s a Learning Centre and has more computers than books. Not only can you talk on the lower two floors but you can take food and drink in too. (Do I sound like a grumpy old woman if I say that my first thought was ‘what is this? A holiday camp?!) There’s electronic submissions, a virtual learning environment (sorry, what?) and an online library. It makes me feel very old to find that a library is no longer a building but a collection of electronic resources.
The good news, when I went to the induction, was that I wasn’t the oldest person on the course and that most other people are also doing it part-time over two years. Quite how I’m going to fit in working, writing and the MA I’m not sure. If anyone’s got Doctor Who’s number I could really do with borrowing the Tardis for a day or two!
Until that happens you’ll find me in the Learning Centre, nervously clutching a cup of tea, and trying to remember that I’m allowed to talk. Or maybe popping off to Top Shop to enjoy my NUS discount. Now, at least that’s something which hasn’t changed!
If you’ve returned to education after a break or if you were a mature student I’d love to hear how you got on. All words of advice on navigating this brave new world will be very much appreciated.