Term One has come to an end at Uni, and I am exhausted.
For those who don’t know, I’m doing a full time degree at MCYM St Johns College in Nottingham, studying Youth, Communities and Theology. I also work part-time as Student Youth Worker at a Baptist Church in the West Middlands. So I travel to Nottingham every other week for lectures, I do essays and work for my portfolio during the week as well as 14 hours per week as Youth Worker. This involves session planning, meetings, mentoring, youth house group, drop in youth cafe and toddler group. I've learnt a lot since starting at MCYM...
I’ve learn academic things; I could list about 10 values and principles of youth work, referencing three different people. I can give you a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and Threats) analysis of my work places’ safeguarding policy. I could tell you a couple of things about Corinthians 12:12-23.
I’ve learnt geographical and practical things, like that Nottingham is far away, that the best time to set off is 7am, and that the best service station to stop off at is Tamworth (on the way to Nottingham) and Hopward (on the way home). I’ve not yet learnt how to pronounce one of the roads I use though: Brian Clough Way. Is it 'Clough' like through, cough, thought or cloud? You’ve got to love the English language..
I’ve learnt a lot of personal things:
I’ve learnt that I am a person who can achieve things. One of my lecturers, Dr Charlotte Naylor Davis, said, “you’ve got to remind yourself that you are a person who can achieve things” in a Biblical Studies lecture. She was talking about how, if we’re struggling to write our essay, then go on a run, bake a cake, do anything that reminds us that we are people who can achieve things. I’ve learnt this term that I cannot write an essay before 2pm. At the beginning, I’d sit starring at a blank screen all morning, getting more and more upset and frustrated that I couldn’t think of what to write. I’d take a lunch break feeling so unachieved and incapable that I’d find it so hard to start again after lunch. Once I reminded myself that I am a person who can achieve things, I began doing something else enjoyable and productive in the morning, like yoga, youth session planning, watching a sermon and taking notes, going to the library. Then I’ll have some lunch and get started on my essay or portfolio work, continuing on until 6pm, when I’ll have some dinner, and then possibly continue on, or at least write some ideas that are still flowing, for an hour after dinner. That’s just how I work. Based on the way A Level results day went, I thought I wouldn’t understand any of my lectures and that I wouldn’t be able to do work well. On the contrary, in one of my first lectures I had, a lecturer said my answer was “profound”. That was a massive confidence booster!
I’ve learnt (or been reminded) that there are many people for me. My lecturers have been so great at explaining things, encouraging me and helping me through problems, like mental health wobbles and settling at my placement. I have a colleague who has become like my work-mum and not only works with me, but encourages me, listens to me and takes me out for lunch
I’ve also learnt two areas that I need to work on:
Saying “no”. It doesn’t matter what it is, if I’m free I’ll most likely say “yes” to whatever you’ve asked me to do, which is probably why I’m so tired. I’ve learnt that I’m the kind of person that works late, that likes to get everything done well before deadlines, that fills up her days and can’t say “no”. I’m taking leave in the New Year and I can’t express how excited I am to sleep, watch Netflix, make things, bake things, go for a walk along the river, go to a garden centre.
I’ve also learnt that I’m terrible at meetings. I generally forget what was said in a meeting - I need to remember to take notes. I’ve also realised that I don’t make a lot of input. I’m quite a slow processor, so when someone chips in with an idea, I’ve heard it but I’m still thinking about exactly what they’re saying, about what I think, and then I’m crafting a response in my head that actually makes sense. By this time we’re on to the answer, or another idea. I think, as well as being slow at processing what people are saying, it’s because of a lack of confidence. I’m scared that I’ll say something stupid, or that doesn’t make sense, or I’ll give an idea that nobody likes. I was in a meeting a few weeks ago about the future of a youth group I co-lead, and on my phone I had about three or four ideas. How many did I actually share? 0.
So, all in all it’s been a good first term. I’m looking forward to starting again in January, right after I have a lovely Christmas and a long sleep.