Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Back on track!

What a difference a few days can make!  "Life" is definitely getting back on track, energy levels are increasing, and I got caught up in my courses.  Yes, this is much better than last week.  What an awful feeling that was, to want and need to do things, yet feel so incredibly tired. 

We are also s-l-o-w-l-y getting into a home routine, with the kids activities, sports, music lessons, homework, and my new 'stay at home mom' routine into just that -- a routine, not randomly happening days.  In hindsight, even under regular conditions (i.e. not mom leaving her job and starting nursing school!), it always takes us a few weeks to establish a busier routine, after a relaxing summer.  This year it was particularly different, with so many changes happening. 

In terms of school, it is such a reassuring feeling to know that I already have a classmate network established, where I can get help if needed.  Now we're talking about getting a study group going.  This is probably a good idea, given how much memorizing is required in physiology classes, and even in psychology class.  The latter class, it turns out (so far, anyways), is mostly a combination of stats class and neurophysiology.  I've studied both, so the topics aren't really 'new' to me.  I really didn't know what to expect from the psych course, but so far it is very much related to physiology....I admit I haven't yet looked at chapters in the text that we're not doing yet.  My first mid-term is next week, in psych, so hopefully that will be OK. 

I've done one physiology assignment so far (got 90% - yay!!!), and have another one due early next week.  Everything, and I mean everything tested, is multiple choice.  This is a h.u.g.e change from my previous university studies (I think a post on test taking will be in the works soon).  Even when I was writing exams in my science courses, we didn't do any multiple choice exams.  Every test was short answer, definitions, and of course, in the chemistry and calculus courses, showing the work and the calculations for the various reactions. 

What I find somewhat ironic (is that the proper use of the word?), is that I avoided taking this 'intro to psych' course when I was doing my first undergraduate degree, because we students knew that that course was marked based entirely on multiple choice tests and exams!!!  That was the main reason I didn't feel like taking it as an elective back then.  Now here I am, years later, taking the same class that is tested in the same format.  C'est la vie, life goes on, and frankly, it is an interesting course!

Back to paying some attention to my littlest one now.  She only goes to school in the afternoons, so mornings are 'our' time.  In one word, these morning together in the past few weeks have been 'amazing'.  I am so grateful to have this time with her.  :-)

Happy momma, wife and nursing student!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Am still so sick...caution...complaining/venting post...

It was a week ago last Thursday, that I sat through a full day of lectures shivering, even though I think I was wearing about 4 layers of clothing (never a good sign!!!).  A few days later, the head cold emerged.  By Wednesday (2 days ago) I was feeling better, but then yesterday it seemed to mutate into a chest cold.  I spent most of yesterday's marathon lecture day (I really don't like Thursdays) coughing (much to the 'appreciation' of my classmates, I'm sure) and it zapped me of all energy and brain power.

Today I'm a bit better, but did NOT have the energy to even think about driving to class, and then listening attentively.  OK, maybe I did think about going, but that expended and depleted my energy stores!

Luckily, very luckily, I now have friends in class, whom I can lean on for info for the missed class.For this, I am extremely grateful.  Merci, merci, merci.     :-)

I just want to feel like myself again. 

For the first week of class, I was a bundle of nerves and excitement, given that it was the actualization of so many years of thinking about doing this and wishing it.

During the second week of classes I was mostly a shivering heap, knowing full well I was in the early phase of fighting a nasty virus.

This week I am lethargic and coughing my lungs out.

Oh yes, and on top of all this, I feel that I have fallen so far from where I wanted to be in my studies.  And add to that, that my first mid-term exam is in less that two weeks...not a good feeling.

I just want to be my energetic, enthusiastic, 'normal' self again, who exercises on her treadmill most mornings, walks the dog before the kids leave for school and (mostly) meets the daily challenges head-on with energy to spare.

Here's to next week. There's always hope, that much I know!!!  Here's also to a full weekend of studying, to catch up on my studies.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2 weeks down...only 94 more to go...

On Thursday it will be two complete weeks of school.  It feels like about two months have passed, not just two weeks. 

There have been so many new experiences and changes in these past two weeks, that my head is still reeling somewhat.  I have felt such a range of emotions too, from wishing so much that I was still sitting in my safe, comfortable, familiar office, to wondering how I will ever read and learn everything I have to read and learn, and even to thinking that I'm finally, really, truly doing this!  I actually am a nursing student, I am going to finish this, and I am really going to work in a hospital or clinic as a L&D nurse. 

The amount of reading I've been doing has been a shock to the system.  I love to read, and I did read on the bus on my daily work commute, and whenever else I found some time.  Now it is a scheduled read, and not just reading for pleasure, but reading to learn and memorize.  Definitely more intense reading is going on!!!

On the positive side, one thing that I was told to expect (thanks T!), and that has indeed happened, is that all the studying I have to do does not seems like a chore that grudingly needs doing.  I am so enraptured with the medical stuff I am learning, after so many years of wanting to learn it, that I actually look forward to my studying time.  Granted, this may not last, but for the time being, I am grateful to be able to crack open my anatomy book and start learning it for real (I say 'for real', because there have been many times over the past years that I've opened a physiology or anatomy book 'for fun', to glance over and wish I had chosen to study this for a career.)  Now that time is here, and it is 'for real'.

A bit of a routine if finally developing, although I still feel far from being settled in one.  I've been taking our kids to various medical and dental appointments that I had 'saved' up for when I knew I wasn't going to be at work, to save from being absent from work too much.  Now it seems like that's what I've been doing for the past two weeks, and thankfully, the end of those is in sight.

The other thing keeping me from fully getting into a real routine just yet is that I am already fighting the first %^&* virus/cold of the school year, brought home by one of my kids.  Our oldest is 10 years old, so I thought I'd already built up a half-decent immune system from so many years of school germs coming home, but nooooo.  Dear husband and I are both battling an awful head cold, sore throat, sinus infection, absolutely no energy or appetite... Not fun at all, but I am slowly getting better.  I detest being sick and having no energy.  Yesterday, I was yearning for a 'sick day' from work.  Alas, they don't exist right now.  On the flip side, I was able to keep my youngest home from school, as she was also sick, and not feel bad for taking time off work to be home when my child is sick.

Here's to hoping everything will be back on track by next week.  Now, back to the books (actually, back to the computer, as that's where most of the studying and reading happens!)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Learning tools available online

I briefly mentioned in my last post, about the incredible number of learning tools that are available online.  These tools are specific to the textbook being used in class. 

It was somewhat frustrating to me this past week, having to spend so much time figuring out what all is 'out there' in cyberspace, that I'm supposed to be registering for, using and learning from.  It is all new to me.  My 'old' student me was just thinking I should be poring over the textbooks, memorizing as much as I can, yet there I was, spending so much time in front of the computer trying to find various items.  With spending all this time figuring out the computer part of the class, I felt like I was falling behind in my 'traditional' studying (feeling that you're falling behind in the first week of classes is not a good feeling!)

However, in the end, when all is registered for and learning tutorials completed, I am in awe of the materials available.  I have to change my approach to studying, and realize that most of my study time will be spent at the computer, rather than the textbook. 

The other 'new' to me aspect about attending university today, is the fact that the profs all post their lecture notes online, before classes.  The students print these off, and use them as the basis of their notes.  Back in my day, these notes were never available, and we were expected to just scribble frantically during each class, in a desperate attempt to get all the info down.  Now we have the luxury of being able to actually listen to the prof and write down the 'extra' tidbits of info, rather than focusing on getting the slide info written down.  This is great.

It is quite a change in approach to studying, but one that I can adapt to, and think will make for a better learning experience than I previously had when attending university the first time (so many years ago!)

Fighting my first cold of the season, as are two of my the virus cycle begins anew....


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I love A&P!!!

A&P stands for anatomy and physiology....and I simply love it.  I'm hoping my (ahem, older) brain will still be able to memorize the way it did once upon a time, as there is a ton to (re)learn.

I wrote (re)learn, because my first university degree was a science degree, specializing in biology.  More precisely, physiology and ecology (I really liked both topics, so ended up taking lots of courses in both).  So I am very happy to be able to say that almost everything I've learned thus far, and what I've seen in the physiology textbook, is not new material for me. 

The biggest difference, however, is that with this degree I am focusing on physiology of the human body and nothing else.  Whereas when I took the various other physiology courses, it was always a mix of various animals (and even plants - gasp!) that were studied.  For example, we would be studying respiration and focus on gas exchange in a lecture, but in addition to learning about gas exchange in the lung, then we also focused on gas exchange in a fish gill, and then the particulars of gas exchange in a salamander.  Interesting, but to a much lesser degree.  My previous anatomy classes were also similar -- usually 'comparative anatomy' of a variety of animals.

So here I am now, FINALLY studying the anatomy and physiology of the human body and nothing else.  What a treat, for me...frankly, that's all I ever wanted to study and learn about.

As I mentioned above, it is simply an overwhelming amount of material and details -- some details can be more easily learned given that they are part of a system and the way 'x' functions can be explained like a story.  Other areas, however, are pure memorizing.  So at times as I'm studying this topic, I oscillate between thinking, "Oh yes, I remember this!", to thinking, "How on earth am I ever going to learn all this for the exams!?!?!"

I should also mention that the learning resources available on-line to today's students are incredible.  The textbooks now come with special codes that allow the student to access on-line study materials, animated explanations, quizzes, videos, etc. etc.  I hope I have the time to take advantage of all these resources!

Yesterday evening (as I was studying after the kids were in bed), I was actually thinking about how exactly did I fill my post-kids evenings as recently as two weeks ago, before school started?  It seems that I'm still doing the same house-hold chores and work, and yet here I have all this extra time in the evening to study.

It seems to re-affirm my theory that the busier I am, the more I can get done.

Break is over now -- back to studying my beloved A&P...

Happy Future Nurse  :-)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Whew...I survived...

Well, all I can say was that the first two days were very intense.  So much "new" to take in.  New to school again after so many years, new school, new classmates, new routine, new courses, new home routine (doing more 'domestic' stuff since I'm home more now), feels like new everything.  By the end of the first couple hours at school on Thursday, I was starting to longingly think of the comfortable, known confines of my office and work think a mere week ago I was in my safe, regular, known work environment...

But somehow I made it through those first 6 hours.  The first prof started his lecture with the 'classic' line that I'd heard and read about for years in medical classes.  We were each instructed to look at the people sitting on either side of us, and then were told that one of the three of us would no longer be in the program by the end of first year.  Something else that I heard this week and that really surprised me (I had no idea!), was the nursing school admittance ratio.  Apparently nursing school is very competitive to get into, and only one person was admitted into the program, out of every 12 applicants.

Luckily for my brain, the profs shortened their lectures somewhat on the first day, and there were some brief presentations given by upper-year students about 'best practices' based on their experiences in nursing school thus far.  We were even treated to a pizza lunch.  I had forgotten to bring my water bottle, so by the end of the second lecture, I was beyond dehydrated and my brain was full of new info, that I was a bit dazed leaving the lecture hall.  I will admit that that evening, and the next couple, I was so mentally tired that I was sound-asleep by 9 pm....

I met many new classmates, and am feeling very good about the group of us 'mature' students in the class.  I had met one classmate earlier via the Internet, and so I had someone to sit with right off from the start.  That made such a difference -- it was great.  By the first break, we were able to start mingling a bit, and I figure by the end of the day I had probably chatted with about 10 classmates.  The ages certainly vary from clearly fresh out of high school, to older than myself.  There was also a much greater number of males in the class than I figured there would be.  This is good for the profession to have a better gender mix, in my opinion.

Learning at university has also changed much since my first go-round.  Everything is online now, and profs post lecture notes, various additional learning materials, even quizzes and assignments on their websites.  The learning experience is definitely much enhanced now, and I think that is great.  

On the flip side, I was a bit surprised by the degree of 'spoon feeding' that was present.  I'm not sure if it is the expectation of the new generation (based on the questions they were asking the profs and tidbits I'd heard about the reality of high school these days), or if this is the new 'norm' that has evolved at university.  I'm not complaining, it is just an observation comparing from my earlier experiences at university.  Either way, that's the way it is, and frankly, I can just take advantage of this to further my own personal academic goals and results. 

I hope to start writing more regularly again soon, as I adapt to this new lifestyle and reality.  This is going to be great...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Day of Classes! (the morning of...)

Well, here I am.  The day has finally arrived, after being just a wish, a thought, a dream for so many years.  Today will be my first day of classes.  And what a day it will be...6 hours of classes today! 

Off I must run, as I don't want to be late.  I will update the blog hopefully later today, given that my brain survives the extreme input of information it is about to receive!  I don't remember the last time I had so many hours of intense instruction.  Over the last decade (+!) I've attended various conferences, seminars and meetings, but their format, goals and concentration level on my part are quite different from instruction from a professor.

Here's to the first day of the rest of my life!

Onwards and upwards.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday's words of inspiration

OK, this one is not 'deep' or overly 'inspirational', but it certainly made me laugh.

Without "me", it is just "aweso".

I'm packing up the personal stuff in my office, handing-off various documents and files to colleagues, and starting to say my good-byes to work.

It still feels completely surreal, and I must honestly say, that even though I am very, very much looking forward to this huge change in my life, I am a little sad right now to be leaving the 'cocoon' of the known of my current job and career.  And I am blessed with amazing colleagues, whom I very much like and respect, who are fun to be around and with whom I have developed friendships over the past couple years.  I have had some fun times here.

It will certainly be with mixed-feelings that I leave the office later today.

I am very grateful and happy that I have been granted a leave of absence, and that I know I will be coming back here in May, when classes are finished for the year.