MA Theology and Religious Studies
I was so excited when I received confirmation of my funding which has enabled me to fulfil my dream of studying a further degree 40 years after I enrolled for my original BA at Leeds. It is never too late!
Coming back to Leeds was like coming home… despite all the changes. However, in terms of learning everything is different due to the invention of computers in the intervening years. (What do you mean you won’t mark things written in longhand?) Although I have used a computer for the past twenty years I have not done much online and struggled a bit with registering, choosing modules and generally seeming to live online, but I am slowly managing to ‘get my head’ around things.
What do I wish I had known sooner? That the portal wasn’t just for registering but actually contained the whole of my life for the next year; that it had automatically set up an email address for me which those in the know were using to send me information that I was oblivious to, and that I could have got ahead of the game by spending time familiarising myself with it before arriving in Leeds rather than spending the first few weeks ‘playing catch up’
Everyone has been so helpful (and patient with my incompetencies). Even if mentally raising their hands in despair the staff, both teaching and office staff, have greeted me with a smile and an assurance that nothing is too much trouble. Because I have quite a long commute they have been particularly helpful in organising my timetable to suit British Rail or whatever it calls itself these days. My colleagues are equally lovely, helpful and supportive; I know it is a disapproved word, but everyone is just so NICE and I feel privileged to be here.
Thinking longer term, because I have been widowed myself I am interested in bereavement support. To this end my dissertation is going to look at how church communities support bereaved people. Once I have completed my study I hope to be able to use the results of my research to benefit the wider community, by setting up a much-needed bereavement support system in my own church and possibly others too.
Janice is in receipt of the Postgraduate Financial Support Package, now the Leeds Masters Scholarships Scheme for 2015 entry. To find out more about this funding, please visit here.
UPDATE: since writing her original piece back in October 2014, in April 2015 Janice has reflected back on her experiences so far
Now halfway through the 12-month course, reality has well and truly set in. I knew it would be harder than I expected, but it is harder than the hard I anticipated! However, if it didn’t require a lot of effort and discipline the end result wouldn’t be much of an achievement.
My first term was quite full with teaching and the preparation work required for lectures seminars and tutorials. That was straight-forward (not easy!), but I struggled to do general reading. After working for 37 years it felt very indolent to ‘just’ sit and read in the middle of the day and it took me a while to become comfortable with it. I am also a very slow reader – skills@library have a useful course to help with that.
When the Christmas vacation arrived the workload doubled as assignment deadlines loomed. It is a mistake to confuse the word ‘vacation’ with ‘holiday’. I cancelled plans to spend Christmas with my family and got down to some serious study. Of course everyone else was in the same boat and it was great to share mainly encouraging, (sometimes despairing), emails for mutual support. Computers aren’t all bad after all.
Now we have reached the Easter vacation and the assignment stress cycle is starting again, but we survived the first time and we’ll survive the second! I’m looking forward to getting everything else completed so I can concentrate on my dissertation without any distractions.
If I could have done anything differently I would have found a way to live in Leeds in term time as although the commute has been relatively easy – except for the morning snow prevented me getting to the station – and the train provided inescapable reading time, living at a distance meant missing out on extra-curricular events and lectures which would have been fun, as well as useful to participate in.
But I have no regrets. Enrolling on the course has been the best thing I could have done.