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It seems I am a glutton for punishment – I am currently completing a postgraduate university course. Fortunately for me, I am able to undertake this entirely on-line. If I had to actually go to uni I don’t think I would have enrolled. On-line study is a very Gen Y concept so… Today I went back to Uni!

First things first… What to wear?! It has been many years since I stepped foot on a Uni campus and if I remembered correctly what you wore told a lot about your social status and footing. Most of my wardrobe these days consists of running gear, work clothes, and things to wear out to dinner. Now, I had to find something casual, not over the top or trying too hard and as I had to return to my adult life later on in the day, something that could pass for both occasions.

Suitably attired, I printed a map of the local uni campus – I’ll say I was just being prepared but it was probably nerves as well. I located where the library and refectory were and planned my entry. I felt a little like a charlatan and kept waiting for someone to spring me for my uni id. Silly I know. I had to remind myself that I was a uni student – even if it was in the Internet world.

Once I got over this and started to settle in I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere and character of the campus. It was smaller than where I went to uni but the memories came flooding back. I remember feeling like your whole world was ahead of you. That time didn’t really matter because you had forever to reach your destination. There was that almost tangible belief that you could be anything you dared to dream of, and there was no reason why you wouldn’t achieve it. Strolling around, words like ‘endless potential’ and ‘the world is at your feet’ kept flowing through my mind.  Oh to go back to the time where a nine am start was far too early and if a class dared to clash with the uni-club night it was simply crossed off the list.

I lived on-campus for a year and subsequently during that time, the university was just about my entire life. It was where I ate, studied, slept, partied, and formed strong bonding friendships. Maybe that’s what came flooding back to me – how important that period in my life was.

Following a couple of young guys to the library. I could hear their easy banter and laid back to and fro-ing. How I envied them. In their world – backpacks, thongs, and boardshorts were their uniform, and unhurried feet dragged them from one class to the next.

The facilities on this campus are better than I remember. Everything is new and shiny and the library full of computer docks. I strolled past as inconspicuously as I could and the first screen I noticed was the familiar blue and white Facebook page. I recognised it instantly but quickly averted my eyes – I didn’t come here to spy on people. I couldn’t help but notice though – there were at least four screens lit up on Facebook pages. No judgement here – if I had visited last month I probably would have tried to log in to check mine! Feeling a little like an imposter I high-tailed it out of there.

I decided a coffee would make me a little less conspicuous. As I was standing in line it hit me, even though I was initially nervous about what to wear this morning I am a very different person to the one I was when I was an undergraduate. Life skills perhaps, but I think the biggest difference is confidence. I realised I have overcome the common demons of teenage years and am now much more self-assured. I wondered what it would be like if the me now, was transported back to my first year of uni. I suppose that’s why so many movies are made about going back in time – everyone wishes they had the sense they do now – back then.

I settled myself on a table and watched uni life unfold around me. I pulled out my laptop and started writing this. There are a lot of kids typing away on laptops, so I’m sure I look like I am completing an assignment or most likely they think I am Facebooking!

I am struck by the alliances around me. Little groups of like-minded people tucked here and there. It is exam time so talk revolves around who answered what, the ridiculous question that should never be on the test etc. They are interacting with each other and helping each other get through the seemingly unending maze of uni assessment. I really miss that. As much as I dreaded the hours in between lectures, those were the times when friendships were formed and we de-briefed – of course we would never have used that term. In our minds we were simply passing time – goofing off. But that, after all is part of what uni is all about isn’t it?

It has been fun to reminisce for a day. After returning, I do feel like on-line students are missing out on the interaction, and it is tempting to become part of the real uni life again. But I also know that it just would not be feasible for me to schedule or attend regular classes at the moment. To get through my course I have to slot it in where and when I can. So… I will continue to wade through solo,  and on the up side – the parking is a lot easier.

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