I went to university this week; I actually went, and started studying. Well, it was an introduction week, where you get introduced to the course as a first-year student – which, as a part-time student, I will be for the next two years.
I felt quite nervous on the first day. I wanted to make a good impression and try to remember as much of the introduction as I possibly could. It’s not possible to remember, of course, and I have to remember that more than anything; I know where to go for information, and who to talk to, so when I realise there’s something I don’t know, I can find out.
The campus itself is huge, and it’s just plain busy. When I was 18, that was just too much for me to deal with; I didn’t like crowds very much back then. I still don’t now, but the dislike has lessened, and I can manage my nervousness a lot more. I feel more confident now as a person than when I was 18, so this feels like the right decision – to have waited and gone to university when I was older and (I hope) wiser.
Next week, we start the actual lessons, which is exciting; I want to learn as much as possible. I might have been published in the past, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have more to learn; I’ve got a lot more to absorb. I’ll be a better writer as a result of absorbing more ideas, and having my writing style challenged and questioned; why do you do this? Can you do something a different way? I like being challenged, because it makes me challenge my own views. Can I defend them – or do I really need to think again?
Learning should never stop; I couldn’t bear the thought of ever thinking that I knew everything there was possible to know about a subject. I always emphasise that point to Bryan; school is a brilliant repository for knowledge, and it is a lovely place to begin the journey of learning – but it’s nice to embrace learning as the world around us changes, whether we like it or not.
When I was at school, computers were these rarified devices that were few and far between. I remember my dad getting a laptop for the first time when I was a teenager, and it was this relatively low-powered, boxy thing – and it was such a strange thing to behold. But now, they’re everywhere; I’m writing this column on a laptop, and my mobile phone is more powerful than the computers on the manned moon missions.
I started work as technology started to come into its own; things were being digitised, and computers were getting slimmer and slimmer, and faster and faster. I embraced the opportunity to go on some courses through work, because I hadn’t used technology a huge amount at school; it just wasn’t that present back then.
I don’t pretend to be a huge technology user; I can use a mobile phone and a laptop well enough, but I’ve never been interested in coding or building PCs from the ground up. Bryan is much more of a digital native; he is growing up in that kind of world, and I see him moving around on a screen far faster than I ever could. I certainly have learnt a lot of tips and hints from him.
So yes, I am now a fully-fledged university student. It still feels a bit odd to say that; I had nearly missed out on the opportunity, but it pulled through at the last hurdle. I’m looking forward to learning a lot more during my six years over in Canterbury. Now that I’ve seen the lesson plans and the university, I’m far more hopeful that I can balance fatherhood (the most important role I’ll ever have), my job, and my studies. There might be the odd blip along the way, but that’s life – I’ll adjust to them, because blips happen. It’s how you deal with them that counts, and if I’m still learning, then I can’t wait to face the future.