At least, that seemed to be the gist of the talk we received from the Student Union rep today! In fairness, he didn’t actually put it that way. He just said that he would try to make sure that there were plenty of non-boozy activities for the mature students. It feels very odd to be classified as mature, but it’s true that I don’t drink. The two are, however, unrelated!
Anyway, I’ve almost finished Freshers’ Week – it’s quite different from my last freshers’ week, which was more like freshers’ two days before lectures started. We weren’t given any information really; we even had to track down our own timetables by figuring out how to get into the faculty website and find them. In contrast, this Freshers’ Week is extremely thorough. Extremely thorough. We spent three hours today being shown how to use the same website by four different people.
On the upside, I have found a group of friendly like-minded people to hang out with, and we’ve all turned out to be based at the same hospital for our placements, and are in the same group when the cohort is divided in half for smaller group work which is nice. One girl, who I met on the pre-course day back in July, is based at the same medical centre as me for community placements and the other two are at another placement together. Obviously once we actually start placements we’ll all be split up and working different shifts but for this period of observation and introductions it’s nice to have a friend around.
I was delighted on the first day when we all went down to the canteen together and almost the entire cohort turned out to have brought a packed lunch. I was concerned I might be the sole sad loner with her lunch box while everyone else piled their plates with hot canteen food, but I suppose we’re all living on the fairly limited NHS bursary and many of the other students have families to support. Incidentally, I’ve ordered a Thermos food flask so that I can take hot lunches with me – I’ve come home starving every day so far, and only the fact that the canteen doesn’t sell any vegan food has stopped me from buying snacks.
Probably the hunger is partly due to the energy I’m expending just getting to the campus! After four years of being able to roll out of bed ten minutes before lectures and meander across the road to the faculty, it’s been an adjustment having to get up early and cycle for 25 minutes with everything I need for the day jammed into my handbag and panniers. On Monday I got thoroughly splattered with mud as I cycled along the boggy canal towpath, so on Tuesday I attempted to get there by road. It wasn’t exactly a resounding success: although I did arrive unsplattered, I was sweaty, red and stressed by traffic and nearly ten minutes late. Fortunately the lecturer hadn’t arrived yet, but I won’t be repeating the exercise. On days when it’s too wet to cycle, I shall get the train.
I have to admit I’m finding Freshers’ Week incredibly tedious. Although I appreciate actually being given information instead of being expected to guess what we’re meant to be doing and where, I wish we were actually doing something. The only thing even approaching actual work that we’ve done so far is draw a picture of our journey to midwifery. I spent quite a long time on mine, with the result that the girls had to help me finish colouring it in at lunchtime today so that I could hand it in before we went home, but I wouldn’t exactly call it art.
We have been given some workbooks to print out and take with us on Monday, but unfortunately my printer paper has mysteriously vanished, we don’t have printer access at uni until after enrollment (which is at the end of the day on Monday) and I forgot the memory stick they were saved on when I went to the city library to try and print them. I could have downloaded them from the course website, except that we need an enrollment key to get onto that, and we will get those next week. Basically it was a ridiculous palaver, mostly of my own making, which means that I’m going to have to go to the library on Saturday and try again. It’s also expensive! The university charges 5p per page (not per sheet of paper – double-sided printing is no cheaper), and the city library charges 10p. Unfortunately even when equipped with paper, my printer isn’t really good enough for printing out anything important.
I also attempted to pay in a cheque today. I’ve been trying to pay this blinking cheque in for weeks now; every time I set off to a branch of my bank I fail utterly to find it. The one near university has mysteriously vanished; the one near the city library is on a street I couldn’t locate. I’ll have one last attempt at finding a third branch and then give up and post the thing!
In summary I’ve not done a lot this week, but it’s been fairly exhausting nonetheless! Tomorrow we are visiting our placement hospitals, which should be interesting, and then next week lectures start up properly. I’ll be glad when things get going!