About grownupstudent

I am a postgraduate student in London, back in full-time education after a professional career.

Working girl

My plan, when I decided to go back to full-time study, was to treat it like a job. Get up at a work-kind of time, work all day, and then have the evenings and weekends to be a normal person again. I remember when I was an undergrad never getting away from the guilty feeling that there’s always something more you should be doing instead of drinking shots/watching Neighbours/sleeping/delete as appropriate (not that there isn’t always something more you could be doing, but I suppose I mean something I should be doing). So I decided that being disciplined and working for a set amount of hours each day was the way forward. Especially as Mr GUS has a proper job – then we could spend some time together when neither of us was working (except when he’s gaming, ahem).


So, that is what I have been doing. It’s not been all plain sailing, I must admit. I have noticed, that contrary to what I have always thought about myself, I work best in the morning. Who knew? And also, I cannot concentrate with too much conversation or TV in the vicinity. As an undergrad I regularly used to study in the living room with all the comings and goings of a student house in the background, not to mention the ever-present TV. And I think I managed OK. But while I can still study in that environment, I get sooooo much more done in the library or a quiet café. I can’t decide if that’s because I have lost the ability to multi-task, or if I was never really working to full capacity. I suspect it’s the latter. I could have got so much more done!

In a weird discovery, I have found that I miss having a record of exactly how much time I have spent on particular tasks, and on Uni work as a whole, so I have actually gone so far as to download time recording software so I can keep track. Old lawyer (habits) die hard, I guess. I never thought that would be something I would bring with me from my former profession.

Something which sets studying apart from working is the aspect of studying being something you do for yourself, not someone else. I know that sounds a bit obvious, but what I mean is that at work you are essentially lining someone else’s pocket, so as much as I wanted to do the best for my boss and my clients, there would come a point in the day when I just wanted to go home, and sometimes kind of ‘mail it in’ on stuff that maybe I didn’t think was as high priority as my boss did. But with studying, no one is judging me (well, not until the end of term essays…) except myself. If I need to read further on a subject because I don’t understand something, or just to further my knowledge, it’s only me that knows whether I’ve done it or not. And only me that cares. Equally it’s really only me that cares what marks I end up with on those essays. So it’s like working for myself. With a mean boss. And without a pay cheque.


Plus ça change…

So. I am a student again, ten years after I was an undergraduate. It’s kinda weird. I feel simultaneously much older than most of the other postgrads (and some of the staff!) and also a bit like a rabbit in the headlights, overwhelmed by all the changes. So what has changed since I was last a student?

– I don’t live in a flatshare.
– I do the washing up daily.
– I don’t have to buy own-brand baked beans.
– I always have paper and a pen in lectures (girl scout).

– Everything is online. I mean, the internet existed when I was an undergrad, but for most of us our university email address was the only one we had. And the concept of being able to access the University intranet remotely was just a twinkle in the eye of some IT bod. Now lecture notes and readings are available online, I can access e-journals from my sofa, amaze balls.
– The library catalogue is no longer in MS Dos (I kid you not. Press F4 to search…).
– There are coffee shops everywhere. The UK coffee shop revolution was only just starting when I was last a student. I also drink a lot more coffee now, and am at pains to remember how I ever got through lectures without it. Lucky for me then.

What hasn’t changed:
– Rushing to the library to try and get your hands on the only copy of the book on your reading list before it gets checked out by everyone on your course.
– My water bottle still leaks in my bag all over my stuff (less girl scout).
– Buying stationery still makes me feel organised.

I really do love stationery.