Hot coffee, cool orange juice and a freshly baked baguette at the ready. Maybe its not most people’s idea of a Sunday breakfast for a student, but it is not expensive and it gives time for a moment of reflection as the clouds have began to settle after a seemly hectic two weeks since the beginning of term.
As a mature student*, there are more than a few little concerns and expectations that arrive with you: the first is that the world you are about to enter has been tailored for those whose jeans don’t quite fit. This is a undoubtedly a misconception: if anything the staff at ECS and the university as a whole react to you as they find you. Ask an adult question, get an adult response. The most refreshing aspect of this environment is the open-mindedness of the staff and willingness to be flexible that can sometimes go missing in the professional world. For the technically minded amongst you, I run a Linux laptop and have no access to windows. No problem: pages for configuring access to the university systems from using samba shares to logging in via VPN are up on the university website.
This extends to the campus environment. Any good chess player will know the value of a bolt-hole. I prefer to move out of my pad in order to work. The Hartley Library has quickly become my bolt-hole of choice for this. The red-brick exterior belies a modern interior, which includes almost as much space for study as that provided for the books. This gives rise to the possibility of punctuating the study of subjects like maths, with the odd chapter of something like the American Civil War – an old passing interest – from the shelves nearby, in order to form a break when one is needed.
Another possible misconception is that of attitude to work. The sentiment that as a mature student I would be far more focused on the work than that of my peers has been suggested more than once. Not quite true: whilst I was still researching important matters, such as the location of the nearest decent supermarket, quickest route from halls to campus etc…, the various members of my tutor group had already got stuck into reading ahead on the syllabus for each forthcoming subject. But then again, we are already award winning. All ECS Programmes feature Jumpstart, where one of the tasks involves a walk around Southampton to find various people and places, whilst getting to know the members of your tutor group. Pictures are posted to a blog in order to prove that a task has been attempted. Perhaps we surprised ourselves a little when won overall, bagging a yard of Jaffa cakes in the process, but it was a result nonetheless.
(A quick hello, as promised, to James, Ryan and Tom, who form the rest of my tutor group. The latter of whom will no doubt be keeping you current with his blog on these pages sometime soon.)
* Apparently that is what my birth certificate says: the date of birth field ends with 79. I’ll let you do the maths.