Sunday, 18 October 2015

Friendships made from studying a distance learning masters.


Ok, so I have finished my masters. Apart from being very happy this week what has changed? I no longer have to come home from work and study, I have my Saturday and Sunday afternoons to myself but what difference does that really make? This afternoon for the first time in 2 years I have no studying to do and I am lost, its Sunday afternoon and the routine for my family has not changed but mine has. My husband, after cooking the Sunday dinner (I know I am very lucky!) still wants to lay on the settee and snooze because that is what he always does after the trials of cooking the dinner and a long hard week. My son, the only one left at home now, still wants to go and play on his game machine and then do his homework. For them nothing has changed but it has for me. Yesterday I enjoyed finishing off my book without feeling guilty for reading something enjoyable instead of studying, but I have timed it badly and now have nothing that I want to read at home (there are several half read books by my bedside but non of them are saying you really want to read me). So what am I doing, I m in my study trying to decide what to do with my blog. There are 2 ideas; one, write about what I have learnt from studying my masters. I will do this but not yet, that would feel too much like studying still. The second is about my journey from starting my masters to who I met not the way and where I am today. That sounds more fun so here it is. 

Why did I decide to start a masters? Three years ago I knew I had the opportunity to become Head of Schools' Library Service when the current Head retired and after a conversation about what would stop me highlighted the fact that I would need a masters. Work agreed that if I wanted to do this distance learning they would pay for it and all I had to do was give my time. I had studies for my degree the same way qualifying in 2003 so knew what I was letting myself in for. The only difference this time was my four children were significantly older. My fourth was born just 5 months before I started studying last time and was only 3 when I finished. If I could do it then it was definitely going to be a lot easier this time. I also felt that it would be good for my youngest, who was then 13, to see me studying too as my third child was leaving for university that year and number four would be at home on his own. 

So after signing up, once again I found myself heading to Aberystwyth University on that long train journey, to do my first study school for my masters. I was nervous but felt strangely at home when I got off the train. I could not say that I knew Aber very well but it felt familiar and these feelings continued when I went to register and found Marianne waiting for me. Amazingly she seemed to remember me from last time and I was greeted like an old friend. I was not a newbie after all I was one of the old hands who knew what was about to come. 

What is really important about my story is that there were 150 students starting their masters on that study week but only 4 of us had signed up for the management of library and information services course. We were spilt off into separate groups in order to do the particular modules for that course. Here I met the two people that were going to get me through this course with the comradeship that can only be felt by those going through the same experience as yourself. Laetitia and Carol have become two of my best friends and I feel blessed that I started this journey with them and they were both still there at the end. This picture was taken at our second study school that we managed to all get to together.



What is great about our story is that not only did we help each other along with our course but learnt about each others lives and families enough to to a road trip to go to our second study school. Laetitia is from South Africa and wanted to see some of the country before and after the study school and asked if Carol and I would like to come along for the ride. So after spending time with these two women for only four day a year previously I found myself agreeing to spend a week with them driving through the English and Welsh countryside. If I had as much fun with them as I had had at study school we were going to have a blast. 

Coming soon, the road trip...