5 surprising things I’ve gained from becoming a student again

So many good things come from being a uni student- you get a student discount on public transport, you can get free Microsoft office programmes, and you (hopefully) learn new things!  I’m now in my third term of a bridging course that will see me eligible to enter a bachelor degree, I’m studying part time (25 hours a week is what they estimate) and I’ve been surprised at some of the positive things that have come about thanks to my study.  

My kids know the importance of learning

My boys are very proud of the fact I’m learning ‘just like them’.  We saw one of my lecturers a the shop one day and both boys were round eyed at seeing my teacher- it was very cute.  Most importantly, they have seen me studying and actively learning and its had a great influence on how they view going to school and doing homework.  Moo said to me a few days ago ‘I’ve got to practice my reading so I will be good at it,’ and I realised they were modelling my learning behaviour- it certainly made me feel like the hard work of studying has a silver lining for my kids!

I am more able that I thought

It’s been a constant embarrassment to me that I feel like I cannot do simple mathematics.  I certainly had an impact on my self esteem and how able I felt to do tasks in my community.  That feeling has changed since I began university.  In one math test I achieved the top score in my class, and at the end of the first term of study my grade was a high distinction- that sure made me look at myself differently! My self confidence has risen as I have achieved consistently high grades in my units and I am reevaluating how I see myself as I realise I can do this.

I’m learning new time management skills

I am a champion procrastinator (I should actually be writing an essay right now…).  Since finding myself chronically over committed I am learning new ways to manage my time.  A lot of what I am doing involves simply not jumping onto facebook and social media every other minute.  I am also learning why my Mum bulk cooked on Sundays, and I am following in her footsteps.  I will often set aside a housework day, where I spend the day in the kitchen restocking our freezer with cakes, dinners and prepped meals for me to pull out at 5.30 when I’ve been busy all day.  My Erin Condren Life Planner has also saved my sanity.  I use it to block out hours and days that I can dedicate to different areas of my life, I also use it to make a weekly and daily to-do list, which helps me work out what is critical and what can wait until later.

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My self care strategies have been honed

I have long been an advocate for looking after yourself so you can look after others, but that isn’t always easy to do, and it’s something that definitely gets pushed to the side when you are busy.  For a while in 2017 I was waking at 4.30am to study, getting the kids ready for school and either racing to uni (100km away) or looking after Charlie while trying to get stuff done, then at the end of the day trying to get even more study done.  During that time my stress levels sky rocketed and for the first time since high school I suddenly found anxiety really creeping up on me.  I quickly realised I needed to look after myself or soon I wouldn’t be doing well at all.  I have started being much more mindful of my workload and have asked for support from my husband, friends and family when I needed it.  Even taking 30 minutes to exercise, having my nails painted or taking 5 minutes to sit on my bed with a cup of tea has helped.  It’s certainly something I am getting better at doing.

I’m now able to say NO

I wish I had have learned this earlier, saying ‘no’ to things is something I struggle with.  When asked to take on another role recently I said ‘I’m sorry, I can’t’ and it was the scariest and most wonderful thing I could have done.  It’s hard for me to look at a role that needs to be filled, knowing I have the skills to do it, and not jump in.  But I know if I do that I really will not cope, I am already over committed!  So learning to say no has been quite challenging for me, as ridiculous as that is!  I’m learning that I can only do so much and that’s okay.

Learning as an adult is completely different to being a young student and I am so glad I’ve taken the leap.  I have a minimum of 4 years of study in front of me, which is incredibly scary, but I have faith in myself that I can do it, and focusing on the great things I’ve gained from being an adult student is one way I am motivating myself.

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