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The World's Oldest Fresher - An adventure in time management... Watch

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    Chapter Zero: A Prologue

    Hey TSR!

    I guess I'm a little late to the party with the Fresher blog, but I really, really wanted to get involved and whatnot, so I'm going to catch you up to now then start actually updating!

    I'm Kandiman, and this blog is called "The World's Oldest Fresher" because, well, I'm 32 years old and a Fresher. For the third time.

    As you can probably guess, this tale comes with something of a prologue but it's going to be pretty hard to tell that one in full without giving away who I am and probably picking up a stalker/getting arrested at some point!

    My first attempt at University began in 2004. I went to the University of Teesside (Yes, I know it's now "Teesside University" - I'm just that old) and it was my first time living away from family. Without wishing to delay the story of this year too much, I'm going to give you literally the bullet points:
    • Partying
    • Drinking
    • Drugs
    • Addiction
    • Girls
    • Pregnancy
    • Fatherhood
    • Dropped out

    Outstanding first effort, I think you'll agree?

    So, round two: I turned 31 and began my mid-life crisis. I'd spent years recovering from addiction, dealing with (and losing) legal battles for custody of my children, watching a whole bunch of people close to me die, getting stuck in random doomed relationships and working dead-end, dead-brained jobs. It was time to change my life. Time to unleash that potential people once pretended I'd had. I was going to go back to university, damn it!

    So, I did what any self-respecting adult with a full-time job and responsibilities does: I enrolled in the Open University to study Law. I've always wanted to be a lawyer: some say it's too many American TV shows, others because I'm good at solving puzzles and still others who claim that I'm something of an argumentative b*****d (I'm not) but either way I'd decided to pursue it and enrolled.

    And the first year came and the materials were all shiny and interactive and I could study whenever I wanted and work it around my life. Awesome! This was going to be far too simple, and in three years of hard work, I'd have a law degree and be ready for the world!

    Well, sort of. Here's the deal: I loved that I was able to prove to myself that I'm smart enough to be at uni. The first time, I somehow got an offer to study Forensics off of EE at A Level, which wouldn't happen now. This time around, I'm doing an actual university degree and I'm averaging an 85 over my 101 and 102, which is great - that's a first. I'm a smart person. Yay!

    But here's what I didn't like: I never felt like I could trust the grades. After all, I was studying in my own time. I could have the materials open whilst I wrote assessments. I had all the relevant material filtered for me and being spoonfed. Uni is supposed to be hard, right? Like, an ex-addict and general screw-up like me should not be waltzing off the street and dropping firsts like the rap singers drop spitfires (did I say that right? I'm trying to learn the slang) like I was. Clearly something was wrong. I needed to fix this. I decided something huge:

    I WAS GOING TO GO TO A REAL UNI

    So, like a good masochist, I started going to open days and working on a UCAS application. In fact, I attended exactly two open days: Oxford Brookes and Swansea, both for good reasons: They're equally good unis, but I'm from Oxford and The Girl, as she will be known for our purposes, lives in Swansea.

    Both schools impressed me a lot: Brookes' commitment to research is inspiring, as is their desire to actually take on the Oxbridge colleges in the league tables, but Swansea has some really nice third-year specialisms, like Sports and Entertainment Law, that really appealed to me. And a beach. And The Girl.

    After deciding this was definitely the way forward, I did the UCAS application: Law at Brookes, Law at Swansea, Law with American Studies at Swansea and, because I could get two freebies/safeties, Law at both UEA and London South Bank, because why the hell not?

    So, where did I end up? Tune in next time, which probably won't be all that long, for the first official episode of...

    THE WORLD'S OLDEST FRESHER!!!
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    Chapter One: Week Zero

    So… after much deliberation, I ended up choosing *drumroll please*

    Oxford Brookes!

    It was a really difficult decision and I had to consult a lot of friends and family about it right up until decision day… and everyone thought I’d pick Swansea, so there was definitely some shock!

    The truth is, I have so many brilliant friends and I’m a big family guy, so I really couldn’t face leaving anyone behind. Wales isn’t far, but it’s a million miles away when you’ve got elderly grandparents to worry about and all manner of other things going on!

    So, let’s go from decision day to the end of week one… SO MUCH HAPPENED!!! Not all of it good, in fact, very little of it good. But all important to mention, I think.

    First of all, the biggest blow of all that nearly made me change my mind about uni entirely: My uncle died. Right in front of me. At age 50. Yeah.

    I’m not going to go into the details of it too much, but he and I were always very close to the point where he was almost like a surrogate father at times, and watching him die, knowing he was dead right in front of me and having to be the one to tell the paramedics to stop… there are no words. Heartbreaking. People say I’ll get past it, but I don’t know when, because I’m still mentally F***ED from the experience.

    Luckily, my bosses gave me all of a weekend off to deal with my grief. Thanks guys, I’m glad I could rush my grieving for you!

    So, with all that in the background, I had to pack up my life. Like, literally my whole life. See, I decided to get the full uni experience and live in halls which, as a mature student, basically means two things: You have to pack up everything you own and effectively make yourself homeless. It took me six weeks to pack, and all but about eight boxes and three suitcases (I know, so much stuff!) is now living in relatives’ garages for the next three years. I’m down to basics. A lot of basics.

    Which brings me to moving day, which I was incredibly nervous for. A thing you should know about me, going forward: I’m autistic. Meeting new people is my tenth circle of hell. Living with new people is about my eighteenth. So… no drama.

    With the help of my awesome mother, I managed to move into my room in the Clive Booth Postgrad halls and, well, it’s nicer than I thought it’d be! In my head, it was going to be worse than prison (not that I’d know anything about that, obviously…) but I have a decent bed, my own bathroom and a decent amount of space. On moving day, it seemed that I only had one housemate. She was kind of quiet (still is) and keeps herself to herself. Others have joined since, but it was a weird, solitary experience that actually kinda helped me with the settling in nerves a little bit!

    Talking of settling in, Brookes has this really awesome thing where they have a Facebook group set up for each set of halls, which eventually led to a group chat and helped us all get to know each other a little before moving in. The guys seemed really cool, so we made plans for a whole bunch of us to go to the pub on the first night, which ended with us hitting the supermarket and going back for a flat party. Instant friendships were built, which is actually quite nice. The thing with being a mature fresher is that everyone I’m living with, more or less, is postgrad. So I’m literally more or less the only undergrad here (I’ve only met three others) so I have this weird conflict where I’m the second or third oldest in the block… and also the least educated. Which will probably become an issue for me at some stage…

    Anyway, let’s flashforward a little bit… Week Zero, as we all know, is also Frershers’ week. The actual main Fair takes place on Friday, with a sports Fair on Wednesday and a whole bunch of figuring out where the hell everything is and going to induction lectures in between. Confession: I knew nothing about the induction lectures, so I booked myself into work and had to cancel shifts so that I could make them. Which feels like karma to me, so happy days!

    Let’s do an induction lecture round up: Day one: orientation, with a tour led by a third year who keeps popping up in random places in the story. You’ll figure out what I mean eventually, but we’ll call her “Elle” for now, just so we can see where this goes. Trust me, she’s not The Girl, I don’t see a romantic subplot here, but you know when someone just seems to keep appearing at the randomest possible moments? Yeah…

    Day two-four were intros to Law stuff. Tort, Contract, Public, FLS… all that good stuff. Frankly, pretty dull, but that’s kind of how it goes when you’re repeating first year, right? I hope so, anyway!

    Let’s talk Fairs. First up: sports fair. Now, I used to be a decent athlete in my prime, which was about fifteen years ago! I’ve given every sport under the sun a bash at some point, but my favourites to play are definitely football, American football and climbing, all of which are on offer here at Brookes. I also signed up for Golf, Climbing, American Football, Football and Gaelic Football, with the intention of committing to whomever fits most nicely into my academic schedule. I’ll reveal that in the Week One update!

    Freshers’ Fair proper was, frankly, insane! So many people, so many societies, so many free things… Just wow. I went with my halls buddy J, and we did a circuit, signed up for everything, and I mean everything. Radio, Model UN, Public Speaking, LawSoc, Formula Brookes, musical theatre, choir, Disney, Entrepreneurship, teaching… so many societies. So many. I wish I had, like, unlimited money so I didn’t have to work or unlimited time so I could fit everything in! Narrowing this down was going to be an adventure, too!

    Oh, also, in the midst of all this, I joined the SU Welfare Team, which means I get to wear a lovely Orange T-Shirt and help out at events. My first job was giving out free goody bags to people, but I’m sure I’ll find other ways to represent across the year!

    So... yeah, that’s my whirlwind tour of week one. It’s badly written, it’s rushed as hell, but I’m catching up to now, so give me a chance and I’ll be back with Chapter Three ASAP… but for now, I have to hit the books!
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    You're not the world's oldest. The oldest was in their 90s.
 
 
 
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