I am often asked why I am studying or what do I hope to do with my Arts Degree when I am finished. Sometimes I find it difficult to give a satisfactory answer because the answer isn’t always straightforward. I study because I love learning. I study to learn more about subjects that are of special interest to me, such as English Literature, History and Creative Writing. I study because I wanted a career change. I study because I want to challenge myself and try something new. I study because I believe in life long learning.
We are all life long learners. Our learning doesn’t stop the day we leave school or graduate with a degree. Every day we learn from each other – at home, at work, at school, in the community. It’s often said that we learn something new every day. It doesn’t have to be anything truly earth-shattering. It can be something very simple. And even when we make a mistake or have a disaster, we learn what not to do.
Over the past few years I have learned quite a few new things. As an online student, I have learned some new things about technology. Even though I now live in Toowoomba, and the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) is based here in Toowoomba, I still find online study to be a more flexible option for me. And I am not the only one. Many of the students at USQ are distance students from across Australia and even the world. Studying online is a popular choice for people trying to balance work, family and study.
It hasn’t always been easy to balance study with family responsibilities. I try to organise my study timetable while Dan is at Yellow Bridge and this works most of the time. It’s not that Dan is difficult to manage, it’s just that he really loves computer screens and it’s very difficult to concentrate when you have someone peering over your shoulder. There are times though, when it has been a bit of a mad scramble to get an assignment in on time and that’s when I vow to be better organised in the next semester.
Well, the first semester for 2018 is just around the corner and for the first time, we will have two uni students in the family continuing their journey of life long learning. While I will be parked in front of my computer here in Toowoomba, Bec will begin studying in Brisbane. Even though I am just over half way through my degree, we joke that she will probably graduate before me. It’s okay. It’s the journey that matters, not the speed. It will be strange not having her around so much, but it is very exciting to see the next generation of students full of enthusiasm about the learning opportunities available to them. I wonder if their enthusiasm will have dimmed when the first round of assignments are due.
A new semester is a bit like New Year. We promise to be better organised, to keep up with the readings, to start our assignments well in advance and to not be reduced to pulling all-nighters to get them in on time. Every semester we promise it will be different – and then life happens. Family crises strike. We get sick, and tired. Appointments take up space in an already crowded schedule. Perhaps this year it will be different.
So what will I be learning this semester? I’m about to get my head into Ethics and Human Rights, as well as Speculative and Science Fiction. I think Ethics will be quite challenging and require a fair bit of mental acrobatics, but at the same time I think it will be interesting to think about the difference between ethics and morality, how we determine right and wrong and how we know what we think we know. And as an avid reader, I am definitely looking forward to Speculative and Science Fiction, although I hardly need an excuse to get into some sf classics like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Dune by Frank Herbert.
I have really enjoyed my learning experience at USQ but you don’t need to go to Uni to be a life long learner. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new. Read a book. Watch a foreign movie. Make a new friend. Join a club. Accept a challenge. Embrace change. Be a life long learner.