Elmo and the history of Maori culture.

Elmo is an American. Elmo has a very whiny voice that makes it hard to distinguish whether he identifies with a particular ethnic group. I am guessing Elmo doesn’t identify with any group, he is a furry and loving little monster who just loves everyone, no discrimination from Elmo.

The Maori are, as far as I am allowed to read, a proud and peaceful culture. A culture with strong tradition with deep roots in farming the land and hunting. Maori identify as an ethnic group and within that they identify with their different tribes across Aotearoa.

I need to keep reading about Maori tradition and culture. It is vitally important to my Maori107 course at university but Elmo is much more of a priority to Mr One. So imagine my frustration as I try and read this meaty textbook of mine that every two minutes or so the ‘Tickle Me My Name Is Elmo’ book comes at me from the right, from the left, over the top and sometimes directly to my face in a sort of aggressive tactic to make me respond.

Piss off Elmo, I’m busy.

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What does it cost to change your life?

Lots. It costs lots and lots and it costs lots of different things. So to talk about this topic I need you to think about where you are now and where you want to be.

Then I need you to think about whether you can get there from here without something changing now.

Then I need you to think about how much $$$ means to you and what it means to you.

I know I am talking about ‘you’ a lot but to be fair this blog is about actually being a bit selfish or at least what society thinks is a bit selfish. You need to work on that if you’re ever going to take the plunge, I will get back to it though. By then end of this blog (if it ever ends I will demystify why you feel like a selfish cow).

Let me sum something up for you. It may scare you but try and stay calm, remain seated.

$30k is how much I expect to owe the NZ Government after 4 years (that’s because I am still paying off my other student loan, silly me)

In four years at a basic job working around the kids and my husband I could have earned us $15500 after tax. So in four years that’s around $62k.

The cost of me driving to Christchurch is going to be around $100 a week. Let’s say roughly $3600 a year because of holidays and study breaks etc. $14400 in four years.

Childcare is the same as me working so I won’t total that up or I would have to minus it from my potential earnings and I’m not studying math so let’s not faff around here.

All up I’m actually going to cost my family nearly $50k. I am going to lose us $62k in earnings potentially so there you have it, it’s a bloody expensive adventure. So why am I doing it?

Social work is in demand. It is constantly an employable degree. I can use it past retirement age whereas I couldn’t waitress or vet nurse effectively past 60 odd. I will earn more money and I will gain more stable employment.

So if, after four years when Mr One was at school I was able to work full time I might earn just under $30k in my average job. As a social worker I could look to add at least another $15k to that total. I am being conservative, being realistic (it isn’t always highly paid work). With an extra $15k in four years I have forgotten the debt to my family and gone on to contribute and grow the coffers.

Ok go ahead, pick holes in my math but what I am trying to outline is that sometimes it is worth taking a financial risk. Especially if it’s yourself you’re backing.

What is important for me is that emotionally it costs my children less. I am home on weekends, I am home in the evenings, I may have my face in a book but I am here. They are watching me learn along with them and hopefully it will become the norm for them to study in tertiary education. I am changing our families culture, our stars, our position on the ladder. That is worth more that $100k, even $1m to me. (No I’m actually really serious, $1m doesn’t go that far in our world today).

Go and make a pro and con list. Go and ring up the Ministry of Social Development and ask if you’d get help. Fill out a form on Studylink, whatever you do, just don’t sit there and write it off that you can’t afford it until you’ve done some homework. You never know what you might find out.

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The first week.

I know the first week isn’t over! I can count. I just want to crack on with topics so I thought I would get this post out of the way.

I have decided to show you what I got up to in my first week. Here goes.

This handy lil thing has a campus map in the front which is awesome because they keep changing my lecture theatres around!

This handy lil thing has a campus map in the front which is awesome because they keep changing my lecture theatres around.

Oh I will also write, so that the pictures don’t just have to be as boring as pictures can sometimes be.

Was I nervous? Why yes I was! It all got much better after a few lectures and I realised I had the mental capacity to understand the content. It had been a real fear of mine that I had been out of the game too long.

I wore comfortable shoes. You may also note that I wore fun coloured, comfortable shoes. #tryingnottolookold #muttonaslamb

I wore comfortable shoes. You may also note that I wore fun coloured, comfortable shoes. #tryingnottolookold
#muttonaslamb

Ever the practical adult I knew that being organised was always going to be key. I took a water bottle, I wore practical shoes and I didn’t take anything that I didn’t need that day. I also guess that’s the upside to owning a car (which I did not the first time around). I can leave the just incase things in the car.

Quiet study levels in the library are going to be a god send.

Quiet study levels in the library are going to be a my salvation.

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Let’s be honest. Trying to read at home is going to mean Mr One asking for raisins, Mr Six telling me that Mr One pinched him and Miss 11 watching Big Brother or something perfectly horrible.

Snacks from cupboard at home or made (we'll get into the $ thing later) and some sunshine.

Snacks from cupboard at home or made (we’ll get into the $ thing later) and some sunshine.

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I really enjoyed the time out and I remembered all the stuff that I ignored as a young student about eating well and not fading away in the afternoon.

Wow you should see the new UCSA. I was walking when I took this shot so let's not judge people, also they sell the most horrendous $2 noodles but I got some just to show you ;-)

Wow you should see the new UCSA. I was walking when I took this shot so let’s not judge people, also they sell the most horrendous $2 noodles but I got some just to show you 😉

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So on a whole I’ve got off to a start of sorts. I am going to find it all a bit of a juggling act and I am by no means ‘sorted’ for the whole year. That’s why I am writing this blog though, I want you to know that I am not lucky that I have this opportunity, I am lucky that I am brave enough to just make this opportunity available to myself. I would have rather tried and failed than died knowing I always wanted to give it a shot.

Pen clickers beware!

I am old and cranky. I am the mother of 3.5 children who test my nerves at every opportunity. I will not tolerate your pen clicking!

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Well actually what exactly can you do in a lecture theatre of 200 people? What I wanted to do was politely say, “Excuse me Dr Maria, may I just deal with something for one moment?” Then I was going to stand up, turn around and in my best mumsie tone I was going to rip the pen clicker a new one with a tirade of my angry words. I would do that whole, “If you don’t stop that RIGHT NOW I am going to come up there and then God help you. You don’t want me to come up there! I am serious! … Don’t you do it again. I mean it!” ( I am aware I parent with empty threats and I never make any real sense when I am ranting.)

Why would you pay all that money to attend university and then click your pen through the whole lecture? Omg, how on earth did the person right next to them cope??? I would have grabbed the pen and flung it away (like I do when Mr One keeps handing his shoes to me wanting them put on, I eventually lose my cool and throw them behind the couch.)

Luckily for the other students it is my day off tomorrow. I can stay at home and celebrate my birthday 🙂 Ha! Yep I should’ve been born a bit later in the year because then I would get presents. Currently we are still settling into this one income thing and recovering from the car stealing incident. Who knows though, maybe someone will buy me a fancy pen and as long as no bastard clicks it; the day will go swimmingly.

You folks want a proper back story?

I would be telling fibs if I said that this was my first crack at study since I left university in 2001 as a rather silly 18 year old. I actually trained to be a veterinary nurse in 2009/2010. I passed but it didn’t end up going so well.

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There I am as a veterinary nursing student at CPIT. Totally out of my depth and studying something that I came up with as a New Year resolution. I now do not recommend that you change your entire life on the basis of not wanting to fail at your spur of the moment 12:01am decision (I’ve decided from now on the keep my resolutions about the usual weight loss, health kick nonsense). You should have a more solid reason to do something radical. End of story.

This post could be a bit disjointed. I am writing it on the fly so bear with.

Why did I leave university in the first place back when I was a rather silly 18 year old? Go get yourself a coffee and come back… Settled? Excellent.

Study law, they said. You’d be good at it, they said. You could argue that black was a bit green with a few pink spots here and there, they said.

That was 2000. I started an LLB in 2001. I hated it, it was shit. Ok so maybe shit was a bit harsh but let’s say that I didn’t enjoy it. Straight out of high school the law texts books are as beige as their covers and the law library frightening and I’ve never been afraid of a library in my life.

The lectures weren’t too bad. We started off with a bottle of ginger beer containing a snail and some lady drinking the ginger beer and discovering the snail. Should she have the right for a legal hissy fit? Was the company at fault? Well I think that it was abundantly clear to most that the snail should not have been in a sealed, factory processed bottle of ginger beer. Sometime after that I lost interest and started hating not just the degree but the whole university.

The arts students looked so happy getting their BA’s. The engineering students would have looked happy if it hadn’t been for their obvious hangovers. I was sat outside the law school looking terribly unhappy and out of place. Once the autumn was in full swing towards the end of the first semester I was done!

Actually when I really think about it now (of course the benefit of hindsight is great) I was just ill prepared. If I had come from a family with at least one person attending university then I might have known what to do about my unhappiness. I could have changed my degree and studied something I really liked. If I had more self-confidence and less issues I would have asked a member of the huge support network that Canterbury University has to offer.

Instead I left and got absorbed into the big wide world that is nothing like the exciting place you imagine it will be at 18. It’s a harsh old cow this world sometimes. It gave me quite a few kicks in the guts but on the plus side I did find some pretty fantastic little diamonds in the rough, 3.5 of them 😉

So on that note, that is why I am packing up my pens and trundling the 90km round trip to Canterbury University full-time at the age of almost 32. Yep, because I got wayward on my journey and I’ve only just rediscovered the original path.

This hasn’t been an easy decision to reach. For a start I decided around Christmas time 2014 that I wanted to study in the 2015 intake (it definitely was not a New Year resolution incase you’re wondering!) I had done the same thing the year previous but was talked out of it by my husband and probably rightfully so, the little Mr wasn’t even a Mr One yet.

So I decided I would study, right, BOOM got that idea locked down. The husband was on board, Mr Six and his Crohn’s disease seemed under control, Mr One was loving preschool, life and raisins, Miss 11 was being 11 and loving One Direction just as much as when she was Miss 10 and Miss almost 12 (the .5 in the equation) was seeming fairly settled in her step child- coming to our house every second weekend- routine.

I got in touch with enrolments and fast tracked my everything over the phone (ha! in all reality it was because there was an IT issue and I a bit of a user issue :-/. I was however complimented on my excellent balance in the papers I had chosen, I felt chuffed as all hell about that.

I sorted out my student loan application through the notoriously difficult StudyLink and thought that the study world was my oyster. Everything was going perfectly. I resigned my job at the cute little cafe aaaaannnnnd then some little &*)# stole our car.

Ugh. Now if you’re sitting there thinking, “well didn’t you have insurance?” then let me tell you that is what I always thought too. Until some &*)# stole my car and ALL my stuff inside it because when you’re a parent you stow everything in your bloody car. It had everything from the last power bill I pulled out of the letterbox as I drove past it to the kids car seats. It had old empty water bottles x6 or 7, milkybar wrappers and a half eaten loaf of delicious pesto bread in it! It also contained my identification.

identification is not something that you want to lose when you’re enrolling in study. In fact I had actually just taken the same identification to the University of Canterbury only to stand and laugh with the lady in enrolments because since I was born on 25 February 1983 I got married and changed my bloody last name! I had forgotten my marriage certificate. Fail.

Suddenly I was without the means to properly enrol. I was without the means to get into Christchurch from Amberley, I was about to be without the funds to make a decent crack at the start of the varsity year. I probably don’t need to explain that Mr 1 learnt some awesome new words that night, “F&$%ing car!”

It was in all seriousness one of those times when in the movies you would fall to your knees and scream, “why?” at the sky. It just seemed like I was never destined to set foot on that campus ever again.

In the morning light I reflected on how the unfortunate event might just be a test to see if, as a family, we really had the strength to handle me returning to study. My gorgeous husband stood firm and in a sentence he cleared away my fog of doubt. “Don’t you dare say this is a reason for you to not go.” Sorted.

So that is how I got from there to here. I would love to hear the stories you have behind your decision to study again or the reasons behind wanting to do your next big thing, which could be study or that dream job. You never know, when you put an idea out there for the world to hear it might just change something for you.

You should read this blog because…

I am going back to university as an adult student and maybe you want to as well because there is every possibility that you’re a stay at home parent and you’re wondering what will happen to you once that little ‘love of your life’ doesn’t need to be cared for all the time.

There is also every possibility that you’re getting out of bed every morning to go to a job that is perfectly good but just not perfect or there is every possibility that you once gave up a dream for ‘something else’.

You should read this because I am going to blog about what happens when you’ve thought all of those things above and finally got off your butt and done something about it. The fun part is, I don’t know how this will end! It could well be a complete disaster! I suppose if you come along then you will find out.

Let my ‘trying it out first’ inspire you, or let my enthusiasm remind you why you started in the first place. I’m no one in particular but I’m someone special haha. Yep, I really just said that 😉

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Tomorrow is D-day.

2015-02-22 14.17.41I am about to start juggling being a mother of three children plus one step child and studying full time to be a social worker. I suppose on the one hand I consider myself very lucky that my husband is naive and has no idea what he’s in for, therefore is backing me 100% but on the other hand I am absolutely terrified about how we will make the next four years work.

Four years! Back in 2001 when I first started at the University of Canterbury to study a law degree I could not fathom the 22 year old I would be when I finished my degree. Now at (a few days shy) of 32 I am almost certain about the 36 year old I will be when I am done. That’s because I feel quite content with my character now. My financial status fluctuates, as does my weight, I can never decide whether I am blonde or brunette but for all intents and purposes I have been the same person on the inside for a long time now. That’s a good thing! A good, good thing.

So tomorrow I start! I think I’ve got the hang of the web pages and online tools, I have myself an I.D card and a handsome 20 something student called me ma’am at orientation day… I am officially a student… again.