MONDAY 7 May 2018, was MY day!!!! Monday, I graduated! Three long, hard years of studying and it is finally here on this Monday morning. Graduation day is THE day that you can stand tall, brim with excitement, and breathe that sigh of relief as you pat yourself on the back… You made it to the finish line. This is what you have been aspiring to. I walked across a stage to be handed my “papers” literally and figuratively as I have successfully completed a Bachelors degree.
The gist of this blog post, if you don’t feel like reading is:
First Year – practise making a baby
Second Year – pregnant
Third Year – breastfeeding
My how to get a degree in 3 years or rather how NOT to do it the way that I did it…You decide whichever option suits you best. Read below, you might find something valuable…
This summary was the idea of my dear friend, Laetitia from PoppetPatch. There were some other words used, containing profanity, but for the sake of family viewing she came up with “clean” words. Thank you babe for the laughs and the pats on the back. You are my sunshine!
My 3 year degree program
My degree was set out in such a way that it accomodated the working individual. There were scheduled block weeks for each module, roughly 3-4 days of actual class, per month. The first year is probably the busiest as there are way more modules than any other year. Class attendance is compulsory and is an exam pre-requisite. In the second year, you have less modules but suddenly the workload intensifies. Also, your lectures now expect a certain calibre of work from you. In your third and final year is when you have the least number of modules BUT as in the previous year, standards are significantly higher as lecturers expect you to be on a certain academic range. You are no longer just a student. You should be knowledgeable by now and write up 7-10 page assignments! Do you know how many friggen words that is…a shit lot.
My 3-4 day block weeks is by no mean glamourous. I had to cram a semester’s work into those days. Full time students get almost 4-5 months of proper class attendance…me, I got 3-4 days for 4-5 months worth of work!!!! Exam periods were the worst as this was the time that I would function on minimal sleep and still have to get through the day.
I distinctly remember walking into my first class, feeling very nervous and anxious. Listening to people introduce themsleves. For a moment the self doubt crept in as I was sitting there, thinking what am I doing here? What am I getting myself into? The lecturer giving the class an overview of the 3 year degree program. What to expect in exams, etc. I sat there, not saying a word, but just listening. Thinking #WTAF am I going to write in a 3 hour exam when each question is worth a 100 marks! What could you possibly write that is worth 100 marks AND on top of that you need to answer 3 questions per module. 3 hours for 300 marks!
The best advice for successfully completing your degree
As I moved through the first year, the lecturers were always helpful and willing to go the extra mile. The best advice was to work on assignments as quickly as possible so that by the time you had another class to attend, you are done with the previous class work. This was everything to me as our classes would overlap with due dates for assignments. This was also NOT always doable and boy did teh wheels fall off the bus when I had to work on multiple tasks in different modules, similtaneously.
How did I get to my 2nd year?
So I made it through the first year with some valuable lessons taken from the first year. This year was by far the most challenging as we decided to help my brother-in-law rebuild his life. Dude also had an accident on the way to work on the 1st of May. This was also around the time that I found out I was pregnant! My pregnancy was not as easy as it as was with Dudie.
Pregnant whilst studying
With both pregnancies, I had the lovely all day morning sickness with the actual vomiting too. I remember walking into an exam one morning and the invigilator looked at me with such pity and she said, “my dear, don’t you want to come back for the sick exam? You don’t look well.” I said nope. I am ready for this exam. I know that food and drinks are not allowed but I haven’t eaten proper food in at least a week and I have a protein shake with me. Can I please sip on it whilst I write as I’m afraid I might pass out if I don’t drink it. I also told them that in the event of me running out of the exam venue, please follow me as I’m probably on my way to the bathroom. There might NOT be time to ask if I may go… How fun was my exams. When I had the same invigilators for my other exams, the invigilators actually kept bringing me cold bottled water during my exam, as they knew my situation already.
Pregnancy complications almost halted my studies
I was diagnosed with Pre-Eclampsia. I was hospitalised several times throughout the year. I also ended up missing one exam as I was admitted on the morning I was suppose to write an exam. I was freaking out. I messaged my course coordinator and explained that the doctor and nursing staff won’t let me leave the hospital, even though I said I’d come back straight after the exam. I was pissed and annoyed as I had prepared but now I couldn’t write the exam. I did manage to write the aegrotet exam, almost like a sick exam where your semester marks still count in this case. Did you know that if you write a supplementary exam your semester marks DO NOT count? They only use your exam mark.
So with being pregnant and going through a bit of a rough pregnancy, this was also the year that Mamma died. This threw me completely. Being pregnant and hormonal was rough but now also to deal with the grief at times felt unbearable. There were times where I just wanted to close my books, quit and crawl into my bed. Done. The end. BUT I didn’t. Something inside me was burning.
Also known as the final year. The least amount of modules, but the most intense workload ever. It was crazy juggling momlife/worklife and studies. I distinctly remember completing an assignment one night with Troll on my boob. That particular day he just wanted to be on top of me. I wrapped him up and held him close to my chest and carried on working. Next minute, my alarm goes off and it’s morning. How even? I did not sleep yet. And now I have to get ready to tackle the day ahead on NO sleep. But I did submit my assignment on time!
So as the famous quote goes… “It always seems impossible until it is done ~ Nelson Mandela”…
You can get YOUR degree in 3 years
It wasn’t easy. Tough times meant that we, as a family needed to work together, to ensure a streamlined process was followed. Routines were vital not just for me but also Dudie and Troll. There were times where Dude and I were both preparing for exams, boy was that intense. Dude and I follow two total opposite ways of studying. He needs complete silence around him whereas I need “white noise” to help me focus. I can literally study in front of the TV and it won’t bother me at all.
During these double exam periods, we would either each take a turn to get to our studies earlier. Meaning one of us would “parent” alone whilst the other would study. Our alternative was we parent together and get the kids to bed so that we both get to our studies.
Dudie, currently 8 years old, was on board most times and helped out where and when he could. He would offer to just sit with me whilst I studied. Love this child! So thoughtful. Troll, currently 1 year old, was way to young to comprehend what was happening. He was happy as long as he was fed. I did try and establish a routine with Troll as soon as possible. This was vital for my own sanity.
Amidst all the studying and class attendance, Dudie’s schooling/projects/extra murals/ sports/ etc and me making Troll home-made baby purees..Life has to go on. Life didn’t stop because I was studying. I have fallen asleep in the car, NOT whilst driving thankfully, but after the school run. I have cried in the car because I was just THAT exhausted. I have fed my kids flings and cheese toast on many occasions when I just did not have the energy to cook a meal. But I knew what needed to be done and I knew what sacrifices were needed.
Surely I have free time now after completing my degree
What free time? Life still has to happen. The only difference now is that I can also go to bed at a decent hour like everyone else. I didn’t magically have more than 24 hours in my day whilst I was studying. I studied after dark. Some nights I had to pull all nighters. Terrible for my body but it had to be done, so that I could succeed. I was still a wife/mom/employee and student. Right now I am taking a break from studying. I just needed to catch my breath and read books, other than prescibed reading material – which by the way was killing off my creativity.
The past three years have been incredibly challenging. Many sacrifices were made but in the end I kept my eyes on the goal. I stood tall and I waited for my name to be called. It is such a proud moment. I’ve cried a few times already as I have reflected on what this journey has been like, where this journey has taken me, and how this journey has changed me. This is not just my journey but also my little spirited family’s journey. They made sacrifices too so that I could reach my goal!
My proudest moment was seeing Dudie’s face as he watched his Mama walk across that stage. He shared my moment and rightfully so as he was was a critical part of my journey and my success just like Dude and Troll!
What have you done for yourself recently?
Are you a student mom or student parent?
How did you/do you cope?