Making the most of having the flu

Lectures started up again on Monday. It was nice to see people (although sad to discover that two more of the cohort have left for personal reasons – two of my closer friends in the group) and get back into the swing of things. I’m learning to adjust to the newest addition to my life, which is reading glasses! I’ve got to sit right at the front, because otherwise I have to take my glasses off to see the whiteboard and put them on again to make notes. The bonus there is that I can more easily block out the frankly ridiculous amount of chatter that builds up at the back of the room over the course of the lecture.

We have several new lecturers which is brilliant as we were getting alarmingly low on staff at the end of last year – several people went off sick or on maternity leave, a few got new jobs and at least one retired. officeI’ve not met everyone yet but the ones we have already had lectures from seem like they’ll be really good. And I am excited about most of the modules we’re doing this year; it’s the “complex” year, and while I am an advocate for low-risk, natural birth I am very keen on supporting women with complex personal needs. Personally I’m especially interested in the challenges faced by women without much English, teenage mothers and families from very low incomes or chaotic backgrounds. A lot of the population around here fall into at least one of those groups so everything we’re studying this year feels extremely relevant. And my new office area in my flat will make it far easier to get my work done at home, which is good as the timetable has changed this year so I won’t be staying in the library for hours after lectures any more.

Monday was mostly launching the modules, meeting the lecturers and dipping our toes into the major module of this term. Tuesday we had a two-hour lecture in the morning followed by three hours in the afternoon, with a one hour gap for lunch. Unfortunately during that one hour gap was the Board of Studies meeting, where staff and student representatives get together to talk about how the last six months has gone and what changes will or could be made. I’m one of the student reps for my cohort; there should be six of us, but three of them seem to have vanished (and have never come to any meetings anyway). The other two hadn’t got the email inviting them, but I told them about it so they came along. Good job really – none of the other years sent anyone, so it’d have just been me and twelve lecturers.

We’d gone round the group quickly that morning and canvassed for views so we had a lot to talk about. Unfortunately it was mainly negative, but I think that’s what happens when you just ask people “any feedback?”. From just listening to people chat, though, I had gathered that most people were as excited about the curriculum this year as I am, and also liked the new lecturers, so I fed that back too. I love being part of this sort of thing, a little bit due to a basic enjoyment of feeling part of something, but also because I’m very interested in change management and representation of people’s views. It’s probably going to be something I continue throughout my career so apart from anything else this will be good on my CV!

Anyway, after that marathon day I got home on Tuesday evening feeling tired, a bit achey and with a slight sore throat. I went to bed a little later than usual as I’d got caught up in my new language software (more on that in a bit) but since Wednesday was a self-directed study day I didn’t worry too much.

On Wednesday morning I woke up with an extremely sore throat and a headache threatening. Over the course of the day both got worse and I started to snuffle as well, but I wasn’t really ill enough to cancel my nannying job at the last minute so I dragged myself out to buy supplies for dinner and pick the boys up from school. We had a low-maintenance dinner of salad wraps and doughnuts, then watched Peppa Pig (they’re a little old for Peppa Pig but we all found it completely hilarious; it is almost a parody of itself once you’re over the age of 3). By the time their mum arrived to take them home I was wiped out but dragged myself down to do laundry as I’d run out of clean clothes. It took me two hours to put the clothes through the half-hour wash cycle and then bring them back up to my flat and hang them up. After carrying the basket of wet laundry up the two flights of stairs I had to lie down for a bit. Not great. I was in bed by 7.45, and “slept” for nearly thirteen hours with a fever, a headache, pain all over and difficulty breathing.

Spending the day in bed

So no university for me today. I did try, but after having to lie down on the floor twice while trying to fix my breakfast smoothie, I decided it wouldn’t be sensible or safe to drag myself in and potentially infect everyone else. It was bad timing as we’d planned to feed back from the Board of Studies to the group over lunch today, and this afternoon there are four hours of pretty important lectures that I’m missing, but I wouldn’t be able to concentrate anyway. I’ve spent the day lying down (I’ve not had a lot of choice in the matter!) and drinking water which has helped somewhat. I’ve caught up on some TV I like to watch – Great British Bake Off, and various US crime dramas – and even done a little bit more work on my Arabic.

I really love languages. I started learning French at school when I was five, and went on to take French, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin Chinese all in the same year when I was 14 (the first three were compulsory, the latter two extra-curricular. Not surprisingly, I didn’t learn very much of any of them that year). I took French and German to A-level and after living in both countries for a short period of time I am reasonably conversationally fluent but rather rusty these days. In the hospital, I need languages like Urdu, Arabic and Polish more than I need the traditional school languages, so I’ve been trying to find a decent course to teach me those for over a year. I thought I’d found it when I was told about Busuu, which is a fantastic way to learn a language which uses the Latin alphabet but totally impossible for languages with other scripts as it doesn’t teach you how to read but does give you multiple choice quizzes entirely written in the foreign language from very early on.

So I decided to try out Mango Languages, which I’d read lots of homeschooling blogs raving about. It’s as good as they said, and even though my Busuu membership hasn’t run out yet, I decided to get Mango as well (it’s extremely good value – only a fraction more expensive than the six week Arabic course I took at the start of summer, for unlimited access to 60 different language courses) because once I’ve cracked the basic alphabet I’ll be a lot better equipped to make use of Busuu, and they seem to teach slightly different vocabulary from each other.

Mango has loads of languages so I also have the option of moving onto Urdu and Polish, as well as Norwegian (mostly for fun – I have friends in Norway and most of them speak fluent English, and there’s always someone who can translate for older family members who only speak Norwegian) and any other language I feel like. I’ve only signed up for a year’s membership so far, but I can see myself using this resource for years since I love languages and it’s a good way to keep my knowledge alive.

Now, though, my brain is feeling a bit too frazzled to do anything else, so it might be about time for a nap. I want to be better enough to go into university tomorrow, especially since this weekend I’m going to Derby Folk Festival with my dad and Gill, and would prefer to do so without the flu…

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