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university

Life, University

I did it, I got my first!

July 6, 2017

Dissertation hand in

Last Friday, I got the news I’d been impatiently refreshing my emails for; I have finished my forensic science degree with a first. 

I’m not going to lie, I am pretty proud of myself. I started university about six years ago now and dropped out after a year and a half because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted. After three years out I realised I loved science and applied to go back pretty much exactly two years ago.

It was nerve-wracking taking a pay cut and starting a part-time job but that hasn’t been as hard as I feared. My part-time job introduced me to a group of people who feel like family to me now; I have made friends for life and I hate to think what my life would be like without them.

I have worked hard and I’ve had amazing support from Daz, my friends and family. University is not something you can do on your own, you need a little bit of help, whether it’s someone making dinner when you’re furiously typing away, asking a friend to quiz you for an exam, or trying to explain your ideas or thoughts to someone who doesn’t really know what you’re on about – a different perspective can so often pick up something obvious that you’ve missed. (I tell you, I could have cried when Daz pointed something really obvious out about my dissertation project that I had completely missed.)

By far, the dissertation was the biggest challenge but it taught me so much. That said, I had no idea how I’d done by the time I handed it in and was convinced that because it was a double module I’d sabotaged my shot at a first. You know what it’s like when you spend so long on something and you have no idea if it’s good or a load of rubbish anymore. I am over the moon with a first, and I had no intention of getting anything less than a first when I decided to go back.

Annoyingly, my university doesn’t do graduation until September (I have no idea why) so I won’t actually get to go to graduation. The idea of a graduation ceremony did make me feel pretty nervous but it also felt like a chance to celebrate hard work.

I guess the moral of this story is don’t let yourself hold yourself back; if you want something, go out there and get it. I think there might be a second moral which is; you don’t have to go to university right after 6th form or college, and it might not even be for you anyway – don’t listen to lecturers or teachers who tell you you have to or should go, it’s your life.

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Life, University

I finished university!

May 18, 2017

I finished university

On Tuesday, I sat my final undergraduate exam (providing I haven’t miserably failed and have to resit, of course), which means I have completed my undergraduate degree.

I remember writing a post a couple of years back about me starting back at university and I can’t believe how fast those two years have gone. I’ve worked damn hard, racked up some government funded student debt (woop!), and I have everything crossed for a first. I will be truly gutted if I get anything less than a first.

At the moment, I’m not really sure how I feel about it. I am relieved to be able to let my brain relax for a little while, for sure, but I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I think part of that is because I am refusing to get excited until I see my dissertation results, and also because I can’t go to graduation. For some reason, my university does graduation in September which is of absolutely no use to anyone who is going on to further education elsewhere. I have no idea why, most other universities manage to hold graduation in July.

It feels almost surreal to look back on where I was two years ago; I was still working in marketing and had decided I needed to be out of it by the end of the year and wanted to go back to university. I was really nervous about applying to go back to university and was worried a university wouldn’t want to accept me because I’d dropped out after a year and a half. (Jokes, they just want your money ;).) I’m so glad that I took a deep breath and went for it because I love where I am right now.

This summer is shaping up to be a hectic one, but not before a much needed getaway for Daz and I. We’re both looking forward to escaping to campfires, cooking under the stars, falling in love with and dragging ourselves up mountains.

How’s life?

Life, Scotland, University

We’re moving to Edinburgh!

April 27, 2017

View over Edinburgh from Edinburgh castle

Last week, we got the news we’d be waiting on since the start of February; the University of Edinburgh made me an offer on the best masters course I’d found.

I cannot tell you how many times I have refreshed my emails over the past two months, or how many times I’ve logged into their applicant hub hoping to see an update. The stress and hassle of my current university who don’t seem to understand what an interim transcript is and my tutor and I having to make one because they’re so useless. The anxiety Daz and I have had, stressing about how close it was getting and all the things we need to do and we still don’t have a decision. It was all lifted. I could have cried; but I didn’t because I am not human.

Well, I say the stress was lifted. It was and it was quickly replaced with a load more stress and things that need sorting.

Daz and I spent a few days in Edinburgh towards the end of last year when they had a postgraduate open day and we both fell in love with the place. I love Scotland, I love Edinburgh and the university was everything I thought it would be and more. Some of the buildings look like they’re straight out of Hogwarts; which I guess they kinda are since J. K. Rowling was living in Edinburgh when she started writing the books.

View of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle

The course is my dream course. Friends and family kept asking me if I’d applied anywhere else and I kept saying “no, because no where else does a course that is anywhere like this one. I have to get in because everything else seems pointless in comparison.” It was, of course, the most expensive course I could have applied for but the way I see it is that it would have been a waste of money doing a cheaper course because it wouldn’t get me where I want to be. The optional modules are all so exciting and I CAN DO A MODULE ON FORESTS! I cannot tell you how excited I am for that. I love forests.

Having lived in my hometown all my life, I’ve visited places and yearned to experience what it would be like to live somewhere else. Especially somewhere so fancy-looking, I mean Edinburgh has a huge castle on a hill (Ed Sheeran?) that is always in the corner of your eyes. What I also like about Edinburgh is that it isn’t so busy that it overwhelms me and stresses me out; though I’m told it will be completely different when the Fringe Festival is on.

I’m looking forward to living somewhere new but I am very comfortable where I am, as is Daz. The thing I am most nervous about is leaving my current job and finding a new one. I love the people I work with, it’s like a family. I am worried that wherever I end up working in Scotland (Hard Rock Cafe, I’m coming for you…goals) won’t feel quite the same.

Of course I will also miss my family and friends. There are plenty of ways for us to keep in touch though, and none of them appear remotely unhappy about the prospect of visiting us in Edinburgh.

It’s a really exciting next chapter that seems full of a lot of unknowns at the moment but I’m sure things will become clearer over the next few months. We’re also both seriously excited about getting to explore Scotland on our days off because it is all kinds of beautiful.

It sure is a weight off.

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Life, University

I did it; my dissertation has been handed in!

April 6, 2017

Dissertation

Any third year / former university student will know how good it feels to say “I handed my dissertation in.” To paraphrase about 80% of young adult books released a few years back, “when I handed it in, I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding in.” (Why did anyone thing that was a good phrase, seriously?!)

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the challenge; I reveled in it. I actually looked forward to writing my dissertation because if there is one thing I enjoy doing, it’s research and then writing 10,000 words about it. And also analysing where I messed up because I am always analysing where I messed up. Heck, I have had 24 years practice at consistently analysing everything I do, so I figured writing a dissertation would be pretty fun. And it was. I truly enjoyed it. I’m hoping all my hard work paid off because I honestly did my best. If there was something else I should have done I do not know what it was, so here’s hoping.

Also, if anyone wants to know anything about nitrogen and pH of gravesoil, I am a walking-talking bank of knowledge about that stuff. I want to see it come up as a question on Pointless.

Writing my dissertation has taken up the majority of my time since the end of January really so it is nice to relieve the pressure a little and not feel guilty about having a day off and doing nothing. Hopefully, I will get that duvet day I was longing for a few weeks ago, but I doubt it will happen before May.

It’s not like I have nothing to do; I’ve got a couple of presentations to do, an exam to revise for, emails to check 300 times a day hoping a university has made a decision about my masters, and just be.

This week has been pretty relaxed so far. I have done a bit of university work but there’s not rush so I’m not putting pressure on myself and that’s pretty much how I want to rest of the semester to go. I’ve done a bit of reading too (hallelujah!); I’m currently reading Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide and the Secret to Saving the World by Kevin Bales; it is pretty horrifying and eye-opening, and I will definitely be doing a review or roundup of horrible facts I have learned as a result of reading it.

How has life been for you recently?

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Life, University

University: The Home Stretch

January 17, 2017

Reading Harry Potter with coffee

Hello, from the final semester of my undergraduate degree! Oh, that feels pretty good to say / type.

Exam season is over, and I feel very unnerved because I felt my exams went well. I did actually start revising early / when I should have / not three days before like last year, and I went into the exams feeling fairly confident. I am concerned that I finished an exam that was three hours long in just over and hour, but what’s done is done.

Why is it that whenever we feel we’ve done something well, we feel so unsure of ourselves? Like we’ve done something horrendously wrong, and slipped into an alternate universe where we actually know nothing and our brain tricks us? Thanks, brain.

For some reason, my university have given us this week off lectures. Maybe it’s to give people time to recover from exam stress? So I’m enjoying a week of not having a huge amount to do. I am going to do some project work though, prepare for semester two, write my personal statement and apply for some masters courses, marathon some more Game of Thrones with Daz, and read. Oh, to be able to read without feeling guilty about it! I cannot wait.

What have you been up to lately?

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Life, University

Going back to university: ALL the enthusiasm

October 13, 2016

Third year of university

It’s here; my third year of university and right now I am filled with all the enthusiasm. (Though I have zero enthusiasm for all the COSHH forms…)

When I started back to university last year, after taking a 3 year break, my third year seemed so far away. I was so preoccupied with how much I might have forgotten during those three years, or that I might have no idea how to write a decent essay, or pass an exam, that all I could think about was completing my second year.

Second year completed with flying colours and I’m two weeks into my third year. I know this year is going to be a lot of hard work, and feels like it has been already, but the end is in sight.

Over the summer we were assigned our third year projects and I ended up with my fourth choice. I wasn’t overly impressed with it, but it wasn’t the worst project on the list. Happily, I’ve managed to change it to something that really excites me (which is half the battle, right?) so I’m now doing my final project on soil analysis of decomposing pigs trotters.

I’m sure that before I know it, the Christmas break will be here and I’ll be thinking about writing up my project, while attending postgrad open days and putting together applications.

I know this year is going to fly by and I’m really proud of myself. It’s not often anyone says they’re proud of themselves, but I’m proud of myself for having the courage to do something that seemed so scary, and give up a full-time job and return to university. I’m also proud of how hard I worked last year, and I know I could do better to be honest (damn you, Pinterest!). I’m not going to lie, I have had nightmares about sitting down in an exam room and having no clue how to answer questions already, which is probably a good push to begin revising now.

When I relaunched Girl In Awe I said that I wanted to post twice a week, and I have failed to post anything at all for the past couple of weeks. I do still want to try and maintain two posts a week but I’m not sure how realistic that is yet, so I’m just going to play it by ear and see what time I have left.

Now you know what I’ve been up to, how are things with you folks?

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Life, University

University as an adult | Year 2, Semester 1

February 22, 2016

  

Since so many of you lovely people were interested in how I’m getting on at university, I thought it would be good to reflect on completing my first semester back at university.

In case you have no idea: I began a Forensic Science degree five years ago and left university after completing a year and a half because I had no idea if it was what I actually wanted to do – instead of doing it because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. For three and a half years, I worked at a small marketing company (yep, completely different) I went back to university (a different one) to finish my degree because I missed science so much.

A few weeks ago, we switched to our semester two timetable, but I wanted to wait until I had all my exam results in to reflect on how the first semester had gone.

I’ve found it both easier than expected and harder than I expected.

The easiest part has actually been living on a part-time wage. I was very worried about this, but it just turns out that I was clearly very wasteful before. By actually monitoring what I spend money on, I’ve not had an issue with money at all. (So far.)

The hardest part has been getting back into the swing of learning, which I thought would be the easiest part. The course I’m currently on is a little different to the first one, and I’m glad because this one contains more of the things I was interested in. For example, we had about six lectures on fire investigation, which I don’t think was even timetabled on my old course. We’ve also had lectures on the more environmental side of forensic science, which is what I want to go into.

I was pretty stressed in the run up to exams, and I know that I’ll definitely do revision a little different for my May exams. That said, I did really well in my exams and got firsts in all three – so that makes me so happy.

On top of that, we had practical reports to write-up, which I was so worried about when I was writing them. They felt like huge, insurmountable tasks at the time and I was convinced that I was going to fail – to my delight, I just missed out on a first for those, which made me happy.

We’re now a few weeks into semester 2 and I’m just so happy.

My Dad tells me that he wishes I’d not left in the first place, but I’m glad that I did.

To start with, I didn’t know if university or forensic science was what I wanted the first time around. I went because that’s what everyone else was doing, it’s what I thought I should do, and I didn’t really know what to do instead. I’m glad that I did leave, because this course is much more suited to my interests in forensic science, and I think I needed the perspective and time to realise that it was what I wanted.

If you’re thinking about going back to university, don’t ever think you’re too old or it’s too late. If you don’t take the leap (and I know it’s scary), you’ll always find excuses as to why you can’t do it yet.

How’s life with you at the moment?

Life, University

University as an adult & blog update

November 13, 2015

University books and notepads

I’ve been back at university for a month now, and it simultaneously feels like it’s been more and less time than that. It’s funny how fast you slip into a routine and how easily you forget that your life was ever any different.

As you were so supportive when I said I was going back to university, I wanted to share an update, plus get this stuff out of my head. There’s also a blog update, related to being back at university too.

What’s university like as an adult?

That was the main question I had when I made the decision to go back. I’d done a year and a half at the age you’re “supposed” to go to university at, but I was really curious at how it might feel as an adult. Especially, when you’re going into the second year and people have already made friends.

I was also worried about how I would feel taking the leap from a full-time job, to a part-time job and how that would leave me financially.

Since I still live at home, and don’t have huge outgoings, financially things are pretty much the same. The only real difference is I’m much more careful and don’t waste as much money as I used to.

In terms of going back to university as a “mature” student, it doesn’t really feel any different for being an “immature” (Is that the right word? It’s definitely the opposite of mature) student.

The biggest difference I’ve noticed are the difference between the two universities I’ve been to. The one I’m at now has a lot of required / assigned reading, which I didn’t have at my first university. So in that respect, I feel like that’s a lot more support and encouragement to do your own guided learning. I think I could probably count on one hand the amount of times we had to do reading for the next class at my first university. I’m happy with that change, but boy does it take up a lot of time.

Honestly, the photo at the top of this blog post pretty much represents my life at the moment; caffeine, text books, notepads, and pens.

A month in, and I’m still trying to get to grips with how best to manage my time so that I don’t always feel like I’m chasing my own tail.

Which brings me to the blog update. You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been posting less frequently, and ultimately that’s because other things have to take priority, whether I like it or not. Which means that, realistically, I’m going to be planning to post 3 or 4 times a week now, instead of 5.

I imagine that will work out to be posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then either Tuesday or Thursday if I can fit an extra one in. How does that sound?

I feel like I’m out of the loop in the blogging world, so tell me; what’s going on with you at the moment?