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First encounters

Nicola Kelly survives with the help of biscuits

So this is the easy option then. For people who can't think of anything better to do. For people out for a quick pound;6,000, no commitment attached. At university I was "the one interested in education". Here I seem to be "the one without any experience in a British classroom".

I'm organised, I told myself. I'm committed. I got through the interview. True, the maths audit left me a little queasy. Sitting with a slightly dazed expression in front of a table of maths specialists, proudly and desperately clutching my luminous green magical calculator designed especially for language students, wasn't one of my better feel-good strategies.

After the scary lecture that accompanies the start of every course I have taken, I look at the timetable and decide - new coloured pens in hand - to get organised. Stay one step ahead.I do not panic easily. I am not averse to hard work. I like the chance to take on a practical challenge.

Half an hour and a page and a half into my beautifully coloured and ncreasingly despairing list of varied required tasks, standards, assignments - not to mention the hopeful sounding expectations - and tonight I am Little Miss Can't Breathe Panic Attack Pass Me The Paper Bag.

Half a packet of bargain chocolate bourbons and I'm back on form. I develop a fab scheme of colour-coded, cross-referenced, sectioned, sub-sectioned, abbreviation-laden lists to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Map in hand I set out to implement my plan. Apparently, though, no one yet makes files to match the science orange, geography brown, and art and design in-between orange and brown of the national curriculum. The rest of the bargain bourbons down and I am now the proud owner of 18 black files and a few hundred white sticky labels. Week one and I've survived. Still keen. Still committed. I'm a little hazy on exactly how organised one person can actually be, but with my new files, handbooks, guidelines and chocolate bourbons ahoy, I'm up for the challenge.

Nicola Kelly is a PGCE student at Manchester University

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