It’s been four weeks since I last posted an entry to this blog. Things were manic just before Christmas with college and work, and a few other things I’d to deal with. But, hey, on the bright side of things, I’m off to a good start this year! Last year I didn’t get posting until the 3rd of January.
Happy New Year to all of you who’ve taken the time to stop by today and in the past. I hope you had a great Christmas. I’m happy to report I that had a really relaxing few days, and kick started the new year off with a beautiful walk this morning.
Ally started a Fetac Level 5 course in Portfolio today. Last year she studied Art and Design (also a Fetac Level 5 course) in the local Technical College, partly because she was quite young when sitting the Leaving Cert, and partly because she wanted to do something in Art but was unsure what area she wanted to study in. She put in a lot of hard work throughout the year, passed her exams with distinction, and, as a result of doing the course, realised her interests lay in the area of Graphic Design. To give herself the best chance of securing a college place next year, she enroled on the Portfolio course.
Ally has been on Unemployment Benefit since finishing the Art and Design course. She hadn’t any success in securing a job for the summer (despite handing out several CVs and filling in many online applications). It is incredibly difficult for a young school leaver with no work experience to find work. Only yesterday she was prevented from submitting a Primark online applicaton form because she didn’t have three valid work references entered into the work experience field. God be with the days when ‘babysitting’ counted for something.
So, obviously, she was delighted to find out she was entitled to Unemployment Benefit. It meant she had some money of her own during the summer.
She called into the Social Welfare office today to tell them she was starting college.
They signed her off Unemployment Benefit and told her she was entitled to nothing!
If she had been 78 days unemployed she would have been entitled to a Back To Education allowance. She was just 14 days short.
So, she can return to college where she will have to pay college fees, buy books and equipment, fork out for college tours and God knows what else, and have practically no money for another nine months
she can receive €100 a week for the honour of sitting at home while ‘actively seeking work’.
Ally opted to return to college and do her portfolio course, and I’m really proud of her. But I can’t understand the logic behind making her financially worse off when she’s being pro-active and trying to better herself.
It seems to me that if she had made the decision to take some time off for a year and twiddle her thumbs, she would be rewarded with fifty-two weeks Unemployment Benefit and be entitled to the Back to Education Allowance that she now can’t get. Are we daft not to take advantage of this? After all, what’s another year?
I spotted these t-shirts over on Zazzle.co.uk earlier on and I’m tempted to get one. Thursdays have to be my favourite part of the week at the moment, with video and photography classes spanning my entire college day.
I don’t particularly mind Wednesdays. Databases and ActionScript are on the agenda this year. I’m finding programming a challenge, but I suppose it would be dull if it wasn’t.
My Mondays and Tuesdays, however, are marred with excessive amounts of time given to Personal Development and Team Building classes.
I’ve always enjoyed Team Building workshops and weekends. I’ve been on plenty of them with the Civil Defence, with Irish Mensa, and with a couple of organisations that I’ve worked for over the years. I’ve built bridges out of paper, directed blindfolded team members through minefields, and used buckets, balls and rope to conduct successful rescue missions. I’ve gotten to know so many people and we’ve had FUN!!!
Our Team Building workshops in college are lacking in…..well….in team building. We’ve built no paper bridges but we’ve tiptoed through several minefields.
The exercises we’ve been given have, for the most part, involved half-hour group discussions based on moral dilemnas rather than puzzle solving.
Except for last Tuesday when we were given twenty minutes to come up with twenty-five ways we could make money out of a Hiace van.
God grant me patience! What a waste of those twenty minutes of my life. Not to mention that the type of Hiace wasn’t even specified. If it was a truck, then we’d have to rule out at least twenty of the twenty-five ideas that we came up with, from perfectly legal activities like chicken rearing, to some more rather ‘dodgy’ practices that I couldn’t possibly list here as my mother might be reading. I’m not even sure that she knows what hash is!
I want those twenty minutes back to write a blog post!!
In this Audioboo, Paul O’Mahony describes the world’s perception of those in education:
“The outside world has a perception of education….people in education are having a doss. They’re having time out from the hard job of earning their living and they’re all just taking it easy….”
I wondered who Paul was referring to. It had to be third level LECTURERS who were the culprits!!! While their students were keeping themselves busy, swotting and studying for exams, lecturers were having an easy time of it!
“…and all these students are just going out and getting drunk and having it off with each other….they don’t do anything hard when they’re at University…..they’ll all wake up after it’s all over and they get a rude awakening and face into the job market”
No way!!!!!! This was about the STUDENTS??!!!
Students are taking it easy and ‘dossing’! Does this mean that people think that I, as a mature student, am dossing twice as much by ‘taking time out of the hard job of earning my living’? I think, for those who share this opinion, I’d like to set the record straight.
Sure, there are those who start college and think they’ll sit back and do nothing and be handed their degree on a plate, but, to the best of my knowledge, they either leave after a few months, or seriously cop themselves on when repeats come around. There are others who are lucky enough to be able to put in a minimal amount of work and scrape through exams. It’s these that will find themselves waking up when they’ve gotten their degree.
As a mature student, I am certainly not having an ‘easy’ time, either financially or timewise, as a result of my decision to return to college. Tomorrow I will pay €1,500 out of my savings for the second year of my degree course. To have to pay this much money and have people think I am on the ‘doss’ upsets me. I could take my savings, spend it in on a new wardrobe in Pamela Scott’s, and have everyone tell me I look gorgeous, instead of having to suffer comments like ‘Oh, Susan, you’re letting yourself go. What’s with the roots?’, or ‘How long have you had THOSE hideous things under your eyes’?
Paul O’Mahony went on to say to Bernie Goldbach, in his Audioboo:
“….you’re actually expecting students to write creatively…..this flies entirely in the face of most of our views that students simply cut and paste things from the internet and pass them as their own and call that creative…..ducking and diving…so I am entirely encouraged that you’re expecting them to write in a creative way, provided you’re pretty tough on them and don’t let them away with writing a load of old cliches and copying other peoples’ ideas…..”
Ah here now! In what college would you get away with ‘cutting and pasting’ and passing items off as your own? Every lecturer I met last semester warned us all of the dangers of plagiarism and had the majority of us scared shi…shivering!! Do people really believe that all students are a bunch of empty headed, vacant staring, morons that can’t think for themselves, or is it really that simple to get a good grade on an assignment using the ‘copy and paste’ facility? Am I just a bit thick for believing that they, in authority, really do have ‘software that can tell where you’ve copied the stuff you’ve pasted’? Someone give me the inside story, PLEASE, because it seems I’m wasting an awful lot of hours at night trying to be original!
Finally, Paul wound up the Audioboo by saying: “I will be listening to your progress reports, as a tax payer, and I’ll be looking forward to you giving them a really good, tough, time so that they’ll become even better than they are right now”
Lord God!! A tough time? Won’t anyone think of the students? Have a heart!
Paul has listened to Bernie’s Audioboos and has admitted, in his own Audioboo, that Bernie is a very fast talker. This must give some insight into our Social Media class (almost typed callous there for a minute) on the Clonmel campus. Bernie Goldbach is the Furius Baco of lecturers, (technical problems aside). Once he begins to speak, you hold on tight and keep your eyes and ears wide open because, if you don’t, you’ll miss out on some vital thrill somewhere along the line.
All I can say is, be prepared for some excellent progress reports, Paul! At €1,500 this is the most expensive ride I’ve ever taken and I, for one, certainly don’t intend to miss out on any of the action during it, or any of the satisfaction at the end!
Someone asked me this question in a telephone conversation yesterday and caught me completely off guard….as well as ringing multiple alarm bells in several panic stations in my head!
“Holy Mother of God” I thought to myself, “I’ve never planned anything in my life, and certainly not as far ahead as four or five years!” I think the longest time I ever spent ‘planning’ anything was the two years I took to plan every miniscule detail of our wedding.
Our wedding day
I change my mind so often (or become distracted by things along the way) that plans usually end up drastically altered.
A friend of mine is a Life Coach. I happened to mention to her one day that I had this problem with ‘planning’ things.
“I seem to find myself just moving from A to B, usually reaching an unplanned B because something in A has catapulted me there.”
“But”, says she, “you’ve gotten there. You’ve gotten to B”.
That’s a fair point. But (I contemplated afterwards) ….don’t I have to get to Z at some stage?(Me being me, I can’t be happy with just ‘B’, can I?) Of course, she was gone by the time I’d thought of that, probably turned off Life Coaching for ever….or my tea, or something.
Jay plans stuff. One by one I watch him achieving all the little things he’s set out to do. I admire the way he progresses towards his goals steadily (I love him for it), whereas I’m like a child playing hopscotch – “Big hop….land on this number….another hop….land on that number….OOPS…dropped the shoe polish, I’ll just hop right back to ‘1’ to get it”……and that’s only when I can manage to hop and throw the tin of polish at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m very happy with where I am in life. I’ve a great family, two terrific daughters and a wonderful husband….oh, and a lampy dog! I really couldn’t ask for more.
Only… I always ask for more, don’t I?
Which is why I started the course with Tipperary Institute. My FOUR year plan is to get a degree in Creative Multimedia, and I’d love to do some work in video/sound and do some proper writing. But the girls will come first. They’re my priority. Ally is starting in college herself this year, and Bee is starting secondary school. So, at any stage, my plans could change again or be put on the back burner for a while. All down to money and time.
So, what are your plans? Do you plan ahead? How far? And what do you do if your plans aren’t working out?
Speaking of plans working out, I should have had the shopping done by now and I’m sitting here, drinking coffee and blogging. See what I mean?
I’m not going to write much now. I hadn’t realised it was so late. I finished college at 4 o’clock today and headed straight into work. I didn’t get out of the office until 7.30. It’s extremely busy at the moment with claims being put in for burst pipes and water damage following the cold weather. We’re still processing claims for flood damage as well. I hope the rain eases off and the river doesn’t flood again or I’ll have to move into the office altogether.
Of course, then I came home and got distracted by Twitter and Facebook and Friendfeed and Flickr and blogging…..you know how it is…..
After the stress of the last couple of months and the last two weeks in particular, I’ve decided to take a day off today.
This semester at college has almost come to a close and I have only a couple of assignments to complete before the exams begin next week. Having my time eaten up by rehearsals for The Crucible and a full day with the Civil Defence (competitions) yesterday, only added to the stress that I was already feeling, and I know that I have been unbearable to live with recently.
On Saturday night, immediately after the play finished, I ‘skipped’ the traditional last night drinks and sing-song with the rest of the cast, drove straight home, plonked myself on the couch, opened the laptop to write a piece for college that had to be in by Sunday morning, and promptly began to bawl my eyes out. Oh, I suppose I was being childish, but my head was such a jumbled mish mash of tiredness, stress and confusedness that I could no longer keep my emotions in check.
When I moved to Clonmel, originally, I knew no one, so I became involved in things in order to meet people. Now, here I was, four years later, involved in so much that I didn’t have time to socialise with the people I’d met. And, for the last couple of months, not only have I not had the time to socialise but I haven’t been spending any quality time with the girls or Jay either. Every moment of every day is spent rushing from one thing to the other and I felt on Saturday that I was going to go mad from being on overdrive all the time.
For too long I’ve felt the need to make up for time lost and opportunities missed over the years by trying to do everything and experience as much as possible. Even on holidays I allow for very little time to relax and insist on dashing around visiting every site in the Lonely Planet guide book because ” you never know, we may never get the opportunity to be here again”. By the time we get home from being on holiday we need another holiday to recover from the exhaustion.
So I’ve made the decision to take a step back from everything I’m involved in. Although I only had a small part in this Guild production the rehearsals still took up a lot of time – time that I could have used to study or finish tasks for college, or time that I could have spent with Ally and Bee. And it’s unfair of me to commit to a part if I can’t, or if I resent dedicating the time to it.
Today I’m going to use my time to get my notes together for study and catch up on paperwork (bills and stuff). I’ll take Bee to her optician’s appointment later on and we might eat out. Then I’ll have an early night tonight and be ready to start studying tomorrow. At this stage I’ll live with being able to answer enough in the exams to pass. Other things are more important in life!
That’s what was written on my grant form that was returned to me this week (although, admittedly, without all the exclamation marks after it).
I’m disappointed, but I’m not going to throw a tantrum, as much as I’d like to. I’ve paid the college fee and I’m in….that’s the important bit. I can cope with tightening the purse strings for a while (although they’re pretty damn tight as it is). I’ll wait till next year when Ally decides she’ll go to college too, and I’ll have my panic attack then when we’re trying to pull money out of turnips to get us both through the college doors. Hmmm………turnip growing……there’s an idea……
For now I’m going to go to bed and get a good night’s rest and play catch up with all my assignments over Saturday and Sunday. I’ll also be attempting to fit in a Christmas cake tomorrow.
No, I don’t mean I’ll be trying to perform an awesome stunt by squishing myself into the mixing bowl; I mean I’ll be trying to fit it into my ‘schedule’.
This is the first free weekend that I’ve had in a long time. Who knows…..with a good night’s sleep I might even throw up an ‘interesting’ blog post tomorrow for a change.