Matthew Munson: Learning to be a university student

Matthew and Bryan

I’m a university student. That still feels strange to say, but it’s become a fact of life now. I’m 42, and I’ve gone back to school – that was a big hurdle to overcome, just starting the damn course.

But now I’m there and it’s a big change; there’s work at home to consider already, and ideas being shared that intrigue me, but I welcome both of those things. I like my opinions to be challenged from time to time. I might not change my view as a result of the challenge (although I might) but being challenged helps you marshal your own view and arguments.

I reflect on my early adulthood, when I last attempted university. When I was 18, I for one wasn’t mature enough to cope with the change to university. There was a big cultural shift moving from sixth form to adult studying that was too big a leap for me then. I can look back and see that now, but it took me a while to work it out. We all grow up … aha, grow up. Well, most of us do; we’ve undoubtedly all met the odd person here or there who’s not quite managed it.

That said, have I grown into a fully-rounded, absolutely perfect, divine being? Of course I haven’t – and if you ever meet anyone who says they have, tell them to have a word with themselves. Studying over the next six years, where I’ll meet new ideas and new people, my mind will broaden and my creativity will be encouraged. I might even learn the inner workings of a semi-colon, something which does – from time to time – elude me.

One thing I was pleased to see was the variety of ages in the university. There are a lot of mature students on the campus, and a couple in my class. But there’s a lot of acceptance of students as they are. I’ve not encountered any issues with my age, nor has anyone reacted to sharing their class with someone 20+ years older than them. That’s nice. It’s just a nice feeling, being in a place where you’re all on the same wavelength and just intent on learning the same things.

I do have to work as well as study, and I’m the sort of person to plan everything as much as possible. Fitting in 22 hours of work alongside my studies – two classes until Christmas, and one class in the new year, and then rinse and repeat every year – requires me to be organised, so I have planned my working calendar for the rest of the year. That also allows me to be present for my son. He is, as you might imagine, the light of my life. He’s 12 and doesn’t always need my continuous attention every second of every day, but he still deserves my time and my love, so time set aside for him is non-negotiable. It might mean that I can’t write quite as much as I would do some days, but that’s fine, because I’ll have spent time with my nearly-teenage son.

I’m glad I’ve done this – going back to education. It’s the right thing for me to do. I’ve already felt inspired with some new story ideas, and meeting fellow writers is lovely. It’s been nice to hear from my lecturers that there’s no genre off the table. I’m a science-fiction and fantasy fan, and I’ve known people to be dismissive of it. But in my lessons, there’s an acceptance of all genres, and that’s felt right. It doesn’t mean that I’ll want to write everything in those two genres, but it gives me licence to be more comfortable in myself when I write in a style that I want to write in.

I have some homework to do for my lessons (hark at me – I’ve got homework!), which hopefully won’t be too taxing, but it’s a small piece of writing that will be something of a challenge. Bryan is sat quietly not too far away, doing some Spanish revision, and it marks a nice afternoon. Exit, stage left, with 50% fewer semi colons.


  1. And I thought this site was for adult intelligent people. Big mistake with likes of Robert Edwards and Paul and their observations. I doubt you pair work either. Pair of typical Thanet windup merchants.!

    • Unfortunately not.
      Far too often, far too many people make comments that are not intended to broaden or inform a debate. Rather, their sole aim is to be as unpleasant as they possibly can.
      It seems to have been getting much worse over the past month or so, with the regular suspects trying to outdo each other in their insults, snide remarks and racist, misogynistic comments.

  2. FedupB FYI I have worked all my life, in the telecommunications industry. FedupB I expect you are still begging in the streets of Thanet!

  3. Question FedupB why don’t you use your real name? Are you trying to disguise a criminal past? Or is it just your on the side of people who refuse to get a job and contribute to society?

  4. Wrong subject, Mark. Matthew Munson is the subject here. Matthew & Son, in fact.
    We have learned that Matthew is a student at 42. I say this is not at all interesting. What say you?


    • You already know that Matthew’s column is not of interest to you, so why read and comment on it again? There are people who enjoy Matthew’s column and this site is for them as well as you.

        • Insults for the sake of it isn’t ‘free speech’ which generally applies to having something of value to say

          • I believe I make valid comments without insults. No one is immune from criticism, neither myself nor Matthew Munson.
            I and some others are amazed that Matthew Munson regularly writes about his daily life as if it is of public interest. I know of no one else who does this in a mainstream journal. Indeed, is permitted to do this kind of diary keeping in a regular column. I was the editor of a political publication but I did not write highly personal thoughts for publication nor would I permit others to do so.
            It would have been inappropriate.

          • I wrote a weekly column called Bailes Tales for Adscene/Thanet Times many years ago. Admittedly it was comedy based but it was still about family life (and it was pretty popular).

  5. Phyllis Quot, I would just like to clear up your attack points against myself. I am not a racist, I totally believe in equality and diversity, which I have demonstrated in a voluntary role across my working life. Most articles on this site I find very reasonable, plus informative, but this ongoing column I have some real genuine concerns about.

  6. I have always enjoyed reading Matthew’s column about his life, and therefore I will continue to read it. There are other columns that don’t interest me, and so I don’t waste my time reading and commenting on them. I have far better things to do with my life! Maybe everyone should only read things that they find interesting, rather than waste their time and energy on reading ones that they don’t like, or ones that they have real (unspecified) concerns about. Just a suggestion, of course.

  7. Kathy, I am one of those who does not find family life at all interesting, especially the family life of others.
    It is not a universal thing and should not pretend to be.
    Granted that some do enjoy reading about it but there is always an equal and opposite view on that. Mine is one of them.

  8. Just for everyone’s information I was a university student doing a degree at 50 and I have worked since the age of 15 until I became really very ill and at the time it was the only thing keeping me sane. Each to their own I say ….

  9. I have a picture in my head of Robert Edwards … a cantankerous and unpleasant old man who looks for ways to insult and repulse anyone for whom he takes a dislike. Victor Meldrew comes to mind although he, at least, was humorous and entertaining (and Robert is neither).
    This correspondent claims to have previously been editor of a political publication but would not have published highly personal thoughts, yet isn’t politics itself comprised of people with highly personal thoughts? I can only guess that it had been a fascinating read under his stewardship.
    Like many others, I enjoy reading Matthew’s column. He certainly gets my vote!

    • Good for you, matey. Enjoy Matthew’s column.
      I said I would not publish personal thoughts in the manner of Matthew’s column. At least, I would discourage it.
      Of course, personal thoughts come into politics but droning on about yourself to the exclusion of all else was not on the cards.

  10. It seems that everyone commenting on Mr Munson’s piece is ignoring the main point. The huge reduction in the use of the semi colon! Well done Matthew. You’ve shown admirable restraint; it must have been very difficult for you to resist. There, I’ve borrowed one of your spares now. I hope you don’t mind.
    Robert. You say that you know of no one else who writes about their daily life in a mainstream journal. Perhaps you do not read any national newspapers at the weekend? Have a look at the Times on Saturday. Robert Crampton in the Magazine section is always going on about his life in the family home. As is Tim Dowling in the Guardian. They are both very entertaining and amusing, yet make one think a little about life and how we all deal with it, and maybe not be so angry and judgemental about others.

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