Jun 18

Chalking This One Up to Experience

Graduation, here I come (maybe)This year I enrolled at university and I have recently completed my first subject.

I had pictured the return to studies as a fulfilling and affirming experience. With my mind challenged by erudite and intellectual discussions, I was going to take the academic world by storm and prove, if only to myself, that after 12 years as a stay-at-home mum I was still on the ball and at the top of my game.


Instead of the idyllic scenario above, I found myself slowly descending through the many levels of Hell as I tried to decipher a totally incomprehensible text book and find something that I could relate to in the lecture notes and forum discussions.

I passed my first essay (just). I rallied somewhat with assignment two – a 14 question quiz (my score was 12/14) and I’m still waiting on the results for the 2000 word final assignment which I affectionately dubbed That Stupid Essay of Which We Shall Never Speak Again.

Yep. My first semester at uni was a real eye opener.

I like to think that I’m an intelligent woman* and the fact that I found the subject I was studying so totally beyond my ability to comprehend was a great shock to me. I found myself wondering whether I had made the right decision to return to tertiary studies and seriously considered throwing in the towel (and then burning the text book).

The saddest moment by far was the point when I acknowledged that I would be happy (well, ecstatic in fact) if I could simply pass the subject. I was no longer aiming for a HD with flashing lights and sparkles. A simple pass would fill me with joy. It’s not really in my nature to aim for average, so this was a major concession. (My final essay mark is still pending, so I still have my fingers crossed for that pass).

I’ve just started my second subject. A first year Australian Studies subject at Griffith Uni which I am really enjoying. The course notes and forum discussions are interesting and I am actually interested in and learning from what I am studying. Such a pleasant change to the past 3 months.

Before moving on with my new subject, I think that I need to make a clean break with my past:

Dear Cultural Studies,

As much as social convention dictates that I tell you it wasn’t you, it was me, the fact is that the failure of our relationship was all your fault. I’ve found someone new. Someone that doesn’t delight in confusing me and making me feel intellectually inferior. I wish you well, but I have to say that if I don’t hear the word ‘discourse’ again for the rest of my life, I will die happy.

Yours sincerely,


Bring on Semester 2.

* I also believe that chocolate is a health food (it contains vegetables (cacao) and dairy so it must be good for you) and that somewhere there is a housework fairy who has my name on her ToDo list, so my opinion might not be entirely reliable.

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  1. Ronnica

    I’m sure you’re intelligent, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t take you a bit to get used to an academic setting again. I wonder what it’ll be like when I go back in a couple of years?
    .-= Ronnica´s last blog ..Searching for Lady Ignorant =-.

  2. Kylie L

    Oh, poor you! That sounds awful. As far as I’m concerned, discourse is the one you have before dat one (preferrably dessert). Hope semester 2 is much kinder to you!

  3. Becky

    You sound like every other student who really attacks a subject! I think that dissonance that you experiences is so normal. Cultural Studies was actually my English Masters degree, so I had to smile when I saw your little letter to the class. 🙂 Essays about subjects concerning cultural studies are so much better than “information” text books. In fact, I can’t remember ever having a text! I’d be curious to see how they would put that together though.

    I so wish I could go back to school again. *sigh* Am I sick that I’m jealous of your experience?!?

    It sounds like you’re doing great, so best wishes!
    .-= Becky´s last blog ..Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins =-.

  4. life in a pink fibro

    Have considered returning to uni myself. Now that I’ve read that, will strike Cultural Studies off my ToDo list. And I”m still waiting for that pesky housework fairy too.
    .-= life in a pink fibro´s last blog ..There’s a bear in there… somewhere. =-.

  5. Meredith

    So now you only have me left in your life to confuse you. At least I make you feel intellectually superior.

    I will confirm here that it was a wank of a course and a particularly incomprehensible textbook. We’ve spent too many years writing clearly and comprehensibly to put up with what Mrs McNally would have referred to as TWADDLE!
    .-= Meredith´s last blog ..I Am Woman…aren’t I? =-.

  6. Rachel


    Don’t despair! I am in my 6th year of university (third degree – yes I am insane) and I STILL have subjects that I *just* pass. Others I excel in.

    A lot of factors come into play.. the subject itself, the set texts, the lecturer’s quirky habits and expectations, who you are being marked against (bell curve?) and the university you are enrolled at.

    Cultural Studies sounds like one of the subjects designed to confuse and anger it’s students. Unfortuntately nowadays, universitys pride themselves on creating indecipherable subjects that really have no real substance and I wonder if the lecturers even understand what they are teaching exactly.

    I am sure you are a very intelligent woman and as you get into the next semester you will do much better 🙂 chin up! you made it through, that is what counts.

    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..In my mailbox (4) =-.

  7. Jules

    Do you know what I discovered? That whether you just scrape through or whether you pass with flying colours, in the end you all get that same piece of paper that says you’ve fulfilled all the degree requirements. It won’t say “Susan Wheelan, Just Managed to get her degree” for which we can be eternally thankful when we find ourselves doing those totally incomprehensible subjects which no amount of brain swatting and head hitting is going to get you an excellence grade.
    .-= Jules´s last blog ..Oops =-.

  8. annelise

    I was nodding my head and saying Yes, yes! to everything you’ve written! I too returned to study this year after twelve years. It’s hard. Really hard. I’m still waiting for my 2000-word essay to come back, I’m 97% confident I failed it so I’d be overjoyed to have just scraped through, I don’t even care about the mark, just as long as I pass. Argh.

    Hopefully, Semester Two will be better! Best of luck (to both of us…)
    .-= annelise´s last blog ..Be confident, be bold*… =-.

    1. Susan

      Amen to a happier, more successful Semester Two. I have my first essay due next Friday and I haven’t started yet as life has been chaotic. It seems crazy to think that I can fit uni studies in with everything else, but I have enjoyed this subject so far and I really want to do this, so I guess I will find a way.

      Keep solidering on (and good luck with your essay).

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