Penny is 30, from Woodbridge and is in her second year of a foundation degree in Bioscience. She decided to get involved to encourage others who need a change to consider mature study.
I can’t imagine me ten years ago, away from home, committing to my studies while negotiating new surroundings and building a new social life because for me studying right now and right here near my friends and family, just fits.
With few serious commitments, uni is my priority and my life for the time being and I take it very seriously, a quality that some I’m sure find a touch irritating. I see my age and seemingly late start as an advantage that has gifted me focus, clarity and a sense of urgency.
Perhaps it is fortunate that I’ve not had the delightful experience of midweek nights out leading to painful crawls into 9 am lectures and my social life still revolves around my long-term friends from whom I receive amazing support. However, I do feel very student-like and I love flitting between the two worlds, from a wedding with friends at the weekend then lab time or study during the week, without any long commutes.
On the subject of stress, I won’t be attending any group crying sessions, but it happens on occasion and I choose to blame my keenness rather than admit to being ridiculously soft and sometimes painfully stubborn! Snacks and exercise help keep the angst at bay. The former train my bum into a rounder, squashier shape just right for hours of comfortable sitting and reading while the exercise prevents this squishiness from getting out of hand in times of sedentary exam and assignment writing.
The world of work taught me that there’s a lot of competition out there, so I know I need a high degree. To me resilience will be as important in achieving this as ability, and I find I do well when, no matter what, I just get on with it. Sometimes that means being an absent friend, studying while ill or freshly out of hospital when I just want to wallow, or missing out socially due to money and workload. However, when on insanely good days I imagine people addressing me as Dr and on more grounded days see myself working in the field glamorously taking samples of animal leavings, I know I am doing the right thing at the right time for me.