Saturday, 22 December 2012

End of Term review

College is over for the Christmas holidays and it seems like a good time to reflect on the first four months of my HND course at Edinburgh College.

So, how's college going? It's brilliant.

I last left full time education was in 1996 (when some of my classmates weren't even born) when I finished my honours degree in Politics. At the time I thought I'd enjoyed my time at University, but I don't think I had nearly as much fun in those five years as I've had in the last four months. (Although in those days I could tell you who was top of the hit parade and knew how to dress like a student, I can't do those things any more.)

First of all, on a basic level, I get to go somewhere warm and comfortable four days a week, where people have prepared things for me to learn, which I'm interested in. And every so often, they prepare wee hoops for me to jump through, so I can see whether I'm doing all right or not, and then they tell me whether I've done well or not. That is FUN. I don't have to be responsible for anybody else, I get to dress the way I want, and the coffee is very cheap.

The teaching quality is variable. Some of the staff on the course are great, committed and easy to understand, delivering the quality content in a professional way and willing to work with us to help us get through the course. There are other staff who I've had to learn to get along with, which has been constructive and valuable, since we all come from different backgrounds and we can't expect to hit it off with everybody straight away. And then there are others who make me wonder what quality control the college implements.

The content of the course is fine - learning to instruct clients in the gym is obviously useful;  the basis of nutrition, anatomy and physiology which we'll build on as the course goes on; health screening for future gym clients has been quite low on content but interested - and I've already passed my First Aid certificate, which is great!

As far as how I'm doing, all seems fine - I'm passing my assessments and assignments without too many difficulties, and even the practical gym instruction assessment I was so worried about went fine.

I'm unsettled by how easily I've taken to the uniform. It's not compulsory but the gym trousers and big hoodie are really very comfortable, and it's much easier to wear them than it is to lug a change of clothes around all day. I need to be careful I'm not lowering my personal standards - I got a new pair of cherry red DMs for my birthday so hopefully that'll help me keep up my sartorial qualities. 

The revelation has been the class, which has turned out to be amazing. There are about 20 of us, I'm the oldest by a decade and I'm twice the age of some of my classmates, and while I don't ever *forget* that, it's a whole lot less relevant than I expected it to be. They're a great group of people, much more tolerant of a mature student than I was as an undergraduate, and there isn't a day that goes back at college without me laughing out loud.

One of the tougher things I've come to terms with is my inner lech. Plenty of the lads in the class are in extremely fine physical condition, which, frankly, makes the days pass a bit more pleasurably. Now, in my defence, I come from a dancing background, and if a dancer looks great or does a move beautifully, I will watch her, enjoy watching, and usually tell her so. This is because she's a dancer, a performer, who expects to be watched, dances in order to be watched. It's part of who I am! However, this doesn't translate terribly well to a gym environment, particularly when the individuals are young males.

It got to the stage where, when one lad was doing chin-ups, another lad rushed over and put his hands over my eyes, saying "you're not to watch, Elspeth - it'll get you going." What a reality check - was I a cougar? The resident old lady enjoying the boys working out a *bit too much*? I took a good look at what I was doing and I summed it up as "I appreciate their bodies - but I don't want to hold them close to mine!". I appreciate the work that they've done to build muscle, get rid of any fat, and seeing a well-executed deadlift is pretty much as good as a well-executed bellydance technique. And there's no doubt I'd be the same about the girls in the class if they were buff or ripped - but the truth is that they aren't really! (Sorry girls, but I think you know it's true!)

I feel that I have a "mummy" role in the class sometimes too, especially as I bake cakes and cookies for the class to share. (I thought that a fitness class would shun such sugary treats, but I reckoned without those boys whose muscles mean they "just can't eat enough" (can you *imagine*?!), and white choc chip cookies are very popular.) Then my niece ask whether this wasn't tantamount to not only being a lech, but asking the young things if I could give them sweeties before I took them to see some puppies.

Our Christmas night out was a great night - I even ended up in a nightclub where I occasionally forgot that I was the oldest person there!
You get your photie taken in clubs nowadays. Who knew?

So the last four months of 2012 have been brilliant. I've loved college and seem to have managed to balance it without too much disruption to my family or work. I've just asked my son who says the only difference is that I take him to school less (his Daddy takes him a couple of days a week now), but that it's fine because I'll have a better job afterwards. Wise beyond his years (this is the same boy who told me that ATP was "20p short of a pound, mummy.")

Fingers crossed for more time at college like these last four months!